How to Pay for Bankruptcy?

How to Pay for Bankruptcy | Waukesha, WIFiling for bankruptcy can be expensive. Hiring an attorney and paying court filing fees can cost you anywhere from hundreds to several thousand dollars. When you’re in tough financial shape, this added cost can seem stressful…and even impossible.

Don’t fear: you have options. Here is a breakdown of what bankruptcy costs and how to afford it.

The Cost of Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy comes with two types of expenses: court filing fees and attorney fees.

An attorney is critical to filing for bankruptcy, as they help file your petition, represent you in court, and take over communication with your creditors.

The two types of bankruptcy are Chapter 7, in which most or all of your debts are forgiven, and Chapter 13, in which your debts are reorganized into a repayment plan.

Here is an estimated breakdown of what you can expect to pay*:

  Chapter 7 Chapter 13
Court Filing Fees $335 $310
Attorney Fees $1,000 – $1,500 /
$200 down
$1,500 – $6,000
Total $835 – $1,835 $1,810 – $6,310

*Please note, attorney fees vary greatly based on location and complexity of your case.

When filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will review your attorney fees to find out if they’re reasonable.

(At Burr Law office, we offer monthly payment plans starting with as little as $100 down.)

Your Bankruptcy Payment Options

If you are filing Chapter 7, you may be required to pay your attorney fees before they file your case. The reasoning behind this is: if you are granted Chapter 7, all unsecured debts are wiped out, including any outstanding attorney fees.

If you cannot afford these costs, you have three options:

  • Raise the money.
  • Establish a payment plan.
  • Find a pro-bono attorney, or one who will take your case without charging a fee.
  1. Raising the money. Use these steps to minimize your expenses and save enough to cover your costs:
    1. Stop payment on credit cards. If you’re planning to file for bankruptcy, continuing to pay your credit cards is not useful. Save that money and put it toward your bankruptcy costs.
    2. Secure additional income. Sell big-ticket items, like furniture or electronics, or find part-time employment.
    3. Ask family or friends for help.
    4. As a last resort, you can borrow against your 401(k) or IRA. However, doing so may deplete the money you will need in retirement.
  1. Using a payment plan. The right attorney may agree to payment in installments. Ask the lawyer you are considering about their payment plan policy during your initial meeting. Please note: most attorneys will require payment upfront before filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

Your attorney may also work with the court to allow you to pay your court filing fee in installments.

  1. Finding a pro-bono attorney. If your household income is less than 150% of the federal poverty line for your family size, you may qualify for free legal assistance. You have several options for finding a pro bono attorney:
    1. Reach out to your local bankruptcy court to request information on local free legal aid resources and free legal clinics. These organizations may be able to connect you with free legal assistance, but be aware: legal aid organizations are often extremely busy and understaffed.
    2. Research The American Bankruptcy Institute’s bankruptcy attorney directory for more pro bono resources in your area.
    3. Contact your state’s bar association to inquire about free legal aid. Some attorneys are required to take on 10%-15% of their caseloads as pro bono work.
    4. Consider hiring a petition preparer instead of a lawyer. If you’re in a rush to file your bankruptcy, a petition preparer will help you fill out paperwork for an hourly fee. Though they can’t give you legal advice like an attorney would, a petition preparer is a good solution if you are looking to quickly trigger the automatic stay that halts collection efforts.
    5. Finally, we strongly advise against filing on your own without the help of an attorney or petition preparer. Bankruptcy filing is an extremely complicated process and it is easy to make mistakes, which could lead the court to throw out your case.

When making decisions about bankruptcy, you may feel that the deck is stacked against you. But remember: you have options. And if you’re in the Milwaukee area, the experts at Burr Law Office are here to help. We have earned a reputation as experienced advocates, and can help you reclaim your life and get a fresh start. Give us a call today!

 

I’m Married and I’m Broke. Should I File for Bankruptcy?

Joint or Separate BankruptcySummary: If you are married and considering bankruptcy, this guide will help you decide between a joint or separate filing.

Making the decision to file for bankruptcy can be both difficult and confusing. Each situation is unique; there is no standard solution for handling delicate financial matters like bankruptcy.

For married couples, the decision to file jointly or for one spouse to file separately depends on many factors. Here are some points to consider as you choose the best solution for yourself and your partner:


When Joint Filing is Your Best Option

Under certain circumstances, a married couple should file jointly. With a joint filing, the property of both spouses is included in the bankruptcy estate, and all debts of both spouses are part of the filing. Filing jointly also allows you to complete one set of forms, incur only one filing fee, and pay one lawyer, if applicable.

In the following situations, you may consider filing jointly:

  • Both you and your spouse are experiencing debt trouble.
  • Both you and your spouse reside in a community property state (Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin), and incurred most debts and acquired most property during your marriage. In these states, everything earned and all property bought during the marriage is community property, and all debts acquired during marriage are community debts. In this instance, joint filing allows both parties to release their separate debts and participate in decisions that will affect jointly held property.
  • The exemption laws of your state allow partners to double their exemptions. If this allows you to keep property you might otherwise lose, filing jointly may be a good option.

When You Should File Separately

In a separate filing, your share of the marital property and all separate property are part of the bankruptcy estate. If you or your spouse has substantial separate property to protect, you might consider filing separately.

You may consider a separate filing if:

  • One partner carries all or most of the debt, you don’t own any substantial property together and you married recently. In this instance, a separate filing will allow the partner who isn’t having debt trouble keep a good credit rating and maintain their separate property.
  • You and your spouse own property together as tenants by the entirety and, if one spouse files separately, your state excludes this property from the bankruptcy estate. In this case, filing separately may allow you to keep your home.

A separate filing may be unavoidable in certain situations. If one partner was discharged in a Chapter 7 case within the past eight years or a Chapter 13 case within six years, that spouse will not be able to file another Chapter 7 case. Additionally, if one spouse does not want to cooperate with a joint filing, you may also have to file separately.

In the complicated world of bankruptcy, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. It is always best to consult a qualified bankruptcy attorney who can examine your unique situation and explain your options. At Burr Law Office LLC, expert Milwaukee bankruptcy attorneys, we can help you make the best decision. If you are married and considering bankruptcy, call us today!

How Will Bankruptcy Change Your Life? 7 Ways…

Filing for bankruptcy is a major decision. The circumstances that lead to the decision are usually not very pleasant either. Whether it’s the loss of a job, a major medical procedure, or simply overspending, overwhelming debt can be a major stressor on you and your family. And once you’ve filed for bankruptcy, your life will change. Here are seven ways that bankruptcy will change your life, and what you can expect.

Waukesha bankruptcy attorneyWhile the final outcome of filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is intended to be positive, there are negatives that come with it. If you decide to file, here’s the bad news that you can expect:

The Bad

  1. Credit Score
    According to Experian, one of the major crediting companies in the U.S., filing for bankruptcy drops credit scores by an average of 80 points. However, it could be much more depending on your specific situation. This reduction in credit rating leads to less trust from future creditors, which ultimately leads to you paying higher interest rates and fees. The bankruptcy will also remain on your credit report for 7-10 years. However, all is not lost. With a newfound emphasis on paying your bills on time, you may be able to establish a more favorable credit rating in as little as two years.
  2. Credit Cards
    Milwaukee bankruptcy no credit cardsYou may be wondering, how or why you’d get a credit card after bankruptcy. As for how, once you file for bankruptcy there’s a good chance you’ll receive new offers for credit cards. While it may seem odd that credit card companies offer credit to people who’ve previously filed for bankruptcy, there are actually creditors who target this high-risk pool. Why? Because they charge higher interest rates and fees, and with these higher fees it’s profitable for them.While the higher rates can seem overwhelming, the opportunity to reestablish your credit rating is actually a plus. If you’re able to consistently pay off your credit card bill each month, it can help improve your credit rating. However, the last thing you want to do is get caught up in more debt. But if you have the money and commitment to paying your bills in full each month, this can be a good option.
  3. Housing
    Once again, we’re going back to your credit rating… Once you’ve filed for bankruptcy, and your credit rating has taken a hit, it can be difficult to find housing. Simply put, you’re seen as a higher risk. So whether you’re trying to rent a new apartment, or buy a new home, expect that you’ll pay higher fees. That may be in the way of a higher interest rate for a new home loan, or a larger deposit for a rental. Yes this is annoying, but it’s important to understand that creditors are merely trying to protect themselves against potentially not being paid.
  4. Employment
    It’s true that it is illegal for employers to ask you about your credit during an interview. However, employers can legally run a background and credit check on you. This may not be an issue in some industries, but in others, such as the financial services industry, it’s common practice. If you are subject to a credit check, and you sign a release letting a prospective employer review your credit, your prior bankruptcy and lower credit score may make it difficult to land the position. Right or wrong, some employers view low credit as a sign that you’re not very responsible.

This may all sound overwhelming. But now that we’ve got the negatives out of the way, let’s look at how bankruptcy can have a positive impact on you and your family.


The Good

  1. Debt eliminated and stress reduced
    No longer having to carry burdensome debt is a huge relief. Over the years we’ve had clients tell us that after their debt was eliminated, they slept better, were less anxious, were happier, and their family life improved. And despite some the aforementioned downsides of bankruptcy, life following bankruptcy was significantly better.With both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your unsecured debt will be discharged. This includes credit cards, car payments, and medical bills. (However, it does not include some debt, such as alimony, child support, and student loans.)
  2. No more collection calls or lawsuits
    Milwaukee bankruptcy don'tsConstant calls from collection agencies can be extremely stressful. If you’ve ever received these calls, you may have noticed that the collection agents can be very harsh, and even threatening. And the longer you owe creditors, the longer the calls go on for.However, the good news is that once you file for bankruptcy, creditors are no longer legally allowed to make such calls. In addition, creditors are no longer able to sue you, or repossess your possessions.
  3. No one has to know
    Many of our clients come to us with lots of embarrassment about their financial situations. And yes, in some instances, this may be justified. We won’t sugarcoat it. But in many cases, especially in cases involving medical bills and job loss, there’s no reason to be embarrassed. Life happens. Still, most of our clients are concerned about privacy. They don’t want people they know to find out about their bankruptcy.The good news is that your finances are your business. Your family, friends, and co-workers don’t need to find out. You can keep it private. The only time your bankruptcy filing would come out would be if you file for a new loan or credit line.

So there you have it, the good and the bad of filing for bankruptcy. Just remember, bankruptcy isn’t forever. After 7-10 years it’s wiped from your record. If you pay your bills on time following your bankruptcy, you’ll be well on your way to reestablishing your credit.  And in the meantime, you’ll get a fresh start financially and, in all likelihood, be much happier once you file bankruptcy, stop the credit harassment, and have a clean slate for you and your family.

And of course, if you live in the Milwaukee / Waukesha area, and need someone to talk to regarding your financial situation, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Happy Holidays from Burr Law Office LLC

As a Milwaukee bankruptcy law office, we spend most of the year crunching numbers, defending and protecting our clients’ financial futures, and otherwise just “getting down to business.” We love what we do and are passionate about it too, but we, of all people, can certainly understand the hectic pace of life and the stress that accompanies everyday life financial matters. Even we need to remind ourselves once in a while that there are other things in life.

This time of year, we find it helpful to stop and reflect on the year past and the year to come. Since we live, eat, and breathe finances the rest of the year, it’s good for us to remember that there is so much more to life than just the stress of financial decisions. To be sure, if you’re facing financial hardship, it can certainly seem like that cloud of hardship hangs over your entire life, and we realize that feeling can be overwhelming.

But at this time of year, it’s great to pause and take note of everything else important in life. It’s a time of year to be together with friends and family, a time to share stories and laugh and turn your thoughts to those who are near and dear in your life.

When you are facing a difficult financial situation, it can be all too easy to let those concerns and worries occupy and control your thoughts. Maybe the issues seem to loom even larger at this time of year as you worry about buying presents, entertaining, traveling, or just taking care of some of the extra expense that comes along with the holiday season.

One of our favorite holidays at Burr Law Office LLC is New Year’s Day. A new year represents a fresh start – a clean slate. It’s a time to nip those bad habits in the bud, recommit to relationships with friends and family, or make a resolution to live a little healthier lifestyle. In a lot of ways, it’s representative of what we help our clients do with their financial situations – get a fresh start and have hope for a prosperous financial future.

So at this time of year, we encourage you to not let your financial hardships get in the way of what’s really important in life and what we celebrate this time of year. Even though your financial issues may be looming large in your mind, make sure to take the time to appreciate friends and family, and take the opportunity to take a step back from the stress you deal with the rest of the year.

And, if it helps you rest a little easier or put your mind at ease, make a plan to give Burr Law Office LLC a call after the holidays or in the new year. As expert bankruptcy attorneys in Milwaukee, it’s our job and our passion to help the good people of southeastern Wisconsin protect their financial futures. We’ve seen just about every financial situation, and we are always ready to give you expert advice and use the laws that exist to their full potential to put you in the best position for success possible.

So from all of us at Burr Law Office LLC, we sincerely wish you a healthy, happy, and safe holiday season. If getting a handle on your less-than-ideal financial situation is in your plans for the new year, we’ll be here ready and waiting to help, and you can contact us anytime to get more information.

“Cheat” Season in America is Officially Here

With Thanksgiving Day quickly approaching, many Wisconsinites consider the “holiday season” to be officially underway. There are so many great traditions that come along with the holidays, and each group of family or friends has their own unique twist on tradition. And whether you really get into the holiday spirit or not, most of us would admit that there is a different feeling in the air around the holidays. It’s a time to be with friends and family, give and receive gifts, eat delicious food, and maybe take some time off of work or go on a winter vacation. For those reasons and others, it’s been called “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Today we are going to discuss an American phenomenon that happens during the holiday season—“cheating.” No, we aren’t talking about cheating on a test or cheating at a game of cards; we are talking about the idea of letting ourselves bend some of our own rules during this holiday season.

Perhaps you or someone you know has been on a diet that has a “cheat day” or “cheat week” built in. The idea is that the dieter is allowed to divert from the strict regimen of his or her diet every once in a while. The thinking is that a little built-in break will make someone more likely to continue the long-term process by not getting too overwhelmed by the constraints of the diet. Sure, a “cheat day” might be a temporary setback in the progress of the diet, but it allows for the long-term goal to be accomplished. It’s like strategically losing a battle in order to win the war.

So it comes as no surprise that, during this time of delicious food and drink, people allow themselves to “cheat.” For some, maybe it’s just suspending the entire diet for a whole month and a half and allowing themselves to indulge in all of their favorite things. For others not specifically on a diet, it might mean they just don’t watch what they eat as much as they usually do. While we’re not qualified nor is it our place to comment on whether or not this is a good idea, I think we can all agree that it is a phenomenon this time of year in southeastern Wisconsin and all over America.

Where does this tie into debt and bankruptcy you may ask? There is another way people let themselves “cheat” during the holiday season that has nothing do with physical health or gaining or losing weight. People tend to let themselves “cheat” financially during this time of year. To be fair, there are expenses that come along with the holiday season that aren’t normally part of a regular budget. Gift giving, entertaining, and traveling tend to be at the top of the list, and these are all good things that would be a shame to miss out on because of a penny-pinching mindset. Unfortunately financial “cheating” can get out of control quickly. For many Americans, rather than making a careful plan about how to pay for some of the extra expenses the holiday season brings with it, they just tell themselves that, for a month and a half, it’s ok to ignore budgets and financial restrictions altogether. Retailers know this and are especially good at cashing in!

For Americans with a lot of disposable income, they may be able to absorb the blow of “cheat season” pretty easily. But most Americans don’t have a lot of disposable income, and “cheating” can have some consequences. Psychologists have actually calculated the most common day—Jan. 24th—that the holiday credit card bills come due, and they have labeled it “the most depressing day in America.” People may have had fun racking up the credit card bill over the holidays, allowing themselves and their family every little indulgence of the season, but didn’t give much thought to having to pay for it a month later.

Like with “cheating” on a diet, we’re also not here to comment on how little or much financial flexibility anyone should allow him or herself during the holiday season. But we’ve found that simply being aware of the phenomenon is half the battle. Understand that you will be tempted to “cheat” quite often this holiday season and make sure you have a plan. If you will allow yourself some flexibility, do it consciously and with a plan. If you need to pick and choose what’s most important to you, think about it ahead of time so that you can do it with purpose.

Finally, if you are feeling the financial burden from “cheat seasons” past or from any other financial setback, please make an appointment to speak with one of our expert Milwaukee bankruptcy attorneys. Whether you need to find out about the bankruptcy process or just have some questions about what your best options are, we are here to help!

The Road to Financial Recovery After Filing for Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 | Milwaukee Bankruptcy AttorneyAs experts in bankruptcy law in Wisconsin, we’ve seen a whole range of financial situations that cause individuals and families to file for bankruptcy. It’s certainly true that no two cases are exactly alike; however, there are very often common contributing factors involved in many of the bankruptcies we see.

As a premiere bankruptcy law firm in Milwaukee, we understand—perhaps more than anyone—the importance of bankruptcy law for protecting the lives and futures of families all over southeastern Wisconsin. Bankruptcy law exists so that people can have a fresh start and get back on the right track with their finances.

As we have mentioned many times in the past, we certainly understand there are many different unique situations that may lead a person or family to decide to file for bankruptcy, and it’s not our intention to paint with a broad brush. But in this post, we would like to talk a bit about some common tips for helping people get back on track after completing the bankruptcy process. While these tips aren’t applicable in all situations, we do find that following these few suggestions can be positive steps for many of our clients.

#1. Start Rebuilding Your Credit

If credit cards put you in a financial hard spot in the past, it’s likely you may be a bit wary of opening another account after a bankruptcy—not to mention the fact that you’ll also likely have a hard time being approved. But what many people don’t realize is that using credit cards is not the only way to build or re-build credit. If you are a renter, you can ask your landlord to report your on-time rent payment history to the credit bureaus. If you have a post-paid cell phone plan, paying your bill on time will also build your credit. And most people have utility bills as well. Pay them on time and in full and you’ll be on your way to building credit—all without having to do any borrowing.

#2. Start a Savings Account

This may seem counter-intuitive, especially if you are working hard just to make ends meet. You might think there is never any money left over for savings, but you may be surprised at how you can push yourself to get creative and make sure you have some money—even if it’s just a very little bit at first—to put away for savings. Research shows that having a savings account acts as a great “safety net” and can often prevent people from turning to things like payday loans or high-interest credit cards for emergencies.

#3. Reduce Your Bills

You might be saying to yourself, “I can’t reduce my bills—they are what they are.” While there are many bills you simply can’t avoid paying, it’s worthwhile to take a good, hard look at what you are paying out every month. Is there anything you can cut out and won’t miss all that much? And for bills that are a “must,” like utilities, find ways to try to decrease them by trying to conserve energy or running the heat just a bit lower. Make a point of using free wifi when available and reduce your cell phone data plan by a few dollars a month. Get creative!

#4. Set a Budget

Studies show many Americans don’t do any kind of household budgeting. Without a budget, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to keep track of how your money is coming and going. You can’t get control of your money if you don’t know anything about it. Start small if the process seems intimidating. Set a budget for one category, such as food/grocery and see how you do with it. As you get comfortable with tracking your money, start tracking more and more of it until you know how just about all of it is being spent or managed. You’ll be surprised at how much you may be spending on things you don’t think twice about, and you also might be surprised that some items that you assumed were costing you a lot aren’t actually costing you as much as you assumed. Get educated about your money and start making it work for you.

While the above tips certainly won’t apply to everyone, give some of the suggestions a try if you think they may be applicable to you. If you’re facing financial hardship and need information about your options under the bankruptcy law, contact Burr Law Office LLC today and let us work with you to find a solution that truly protects you and your future.

The Truth About Bankruptcy

I’m sure there aren’t too many people in the Milwaukee area who would be surprised to hear that the vast majority of people in southeastern Wisconsin, and America in general, have faced financial hardship at one point or another throughout their lives. There are a whole host of reasons people face these hardships, and there is a huge variance in how long these hardships last. For some people, their hardships may only be temporary and for a very specific and limited cause, and it’s very easy for them to see “the light at the end of the tunnel.” For others, it may seem the financial hard times will never end…and they just can’t imagine getting to a better place in terms of their finances.

It’s also true that sometimes it’s a matter of perspective. I think we have all heard of an actor or athlete who made millions of dollars and ended up broke only a few years later. They may consider “financial hardship” as being no longer able to afford any sports car they desire. Conversely, someone used to living on a much smaller salary may only consider themselves to be facing “financial crisis” when they no longer have the bare minimum to pay their bills and feed their family. Needless to say “financial hardship” can sometimes be just as much a matter of external situations, perspective, and duration as it is about simple dollars-and-cents math.

Today’s post is titled “The Truth About Bankruptcy” for good reason. We want to take a look at some of the nuances of bankruptcy as well as some of the positives and negatives of using bankruptcy law to address a financial hardship. At Burr Law Office LLC, we’re committed to, first and foremost, doing what is in your best interest. While bankruptcy can be a great tool for some situations, we also want to work with you so that you will fully understand how it will affect you – and how you can best protect your future and your family’s future in your unique situation.

First of all, it’s important to understand that bankruptcy will affect your credit history. Depending on which type of bankruptcy you file, it may be either seven or ten years. While this may affect your ability to make some major life purchasing decisions, it may also not hinder certain other decisions (ones you may have assumed it would). When we work with you, we want you to have a complete understanding of the process and what it will mean for you going forward. Depending on upcoming purchases or life situations, alternative solutions may be considered. These considerations may also determine which type of bankruptcy to file.

Second, it’s also important to understand that bankruptcy can be a great tool to help you protect you and your family’s future. While the idea of having a bankruptcy on your credit history may sound unappealing, there are many cases where getting out of debt and starting over with a clean slate is definitely the best option. There are countless stories of people who have used bankruptcy to start over and have ended up coming out of the entire process in a much better situation. For some, they have even used the process and the experience to teach themselves about managing money and become very savvy – and even wealthy – as a result.

At Burr Law Office LLC, our bankruptcy attorneys always want to be upfront and honest when we deal with our clients. We’ll always tell you the truth about bankruptcy, and that means sometimes there will be difficult decisions to make. No matter what we do, we’ll always look out for your best interests and work to protect your financial future. For us, that means we will tell you what to expect when filing for bankruptcy, even if it may be something unpleasant. On the other hand, we’ll also be honest with you about letting you know when filing truly is your best option – and the best thing you can do to protect your future.

If you’re facing financial difficulty and need to know what your options are, call Burr Law office and set up an appointment with one of our skilled Milwaukee bankruptcy attorneys today. We’ll provide you with real, honest, no-nonsense information about your options. Our commitment to all of our clients is to always look out for their best interest. When you meet with us, you’ll understand why thousands of clients have trusted us to protect their financial future.

The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics are Over, So Why Are Some Athletes Filing for Bankruptcy?

The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics are now, just recently, over. Many predicted the summer games would be surrounded by controversy, scandal, crime, and a myriad of other problems. Though we don’t have all the facts from the recently concluded games, it’s probably safe to say things went better than most of the critics and media expected. Certainly, there were hiccups and small, unforeseen issues that came up; however, most of the events went off without a hitch. And that’s good news for fans of the games, and for the country of Brazil too.

There were plenty of great storylines from the Olympic games, too – whether it was the first-ever appearance of the refugee team comprised of people who fled their war-torn countries, or a “rags to riches” story about an athlete that grew up in poverty in the American south.

Once the Olympics are over, though, most of us just forget about most of the athletes and many of the sports. How many people regularly follow competitive diving? What about professional table tennis? Except for the participants in main-stream sports like soccer and basketball, these athletes only get their “fifteen minutes of fame” for two weeks every four years.

So what happens to these champions after the games are over and they go home? As a law firm that specializes in bankruptcy in southeastern Wisconsin, we’d like to take a brief look at the financial implications being “the greatest in the world” bring with it.

For hyper-focused athletes, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to find out training is their job – they eat, sleep, and breathe their sport. In the case of basketball stars and soccer players, that is usually ok from a financial standpoint. They can join a professional league and be paid to play their sport and to train. But what if your sport is judo or canoeing? Athletes must spend their time training, sometimes at great expense, but with little chance to cash in on their status as “greatest in the world.”

It’s true that winning a gold medal brings along with it prize money. Some countries reward their athletes quite handsomely for winning the top prize in their respective sports. Taiwan, for example, pays almost one million dollars for a gold medal at the Olympics. Most countries, however, pay much less. The U.S. Olympic Committee, for example, pays $25,000 in prize money for an Olympic gold.* Certainly, this isn’t chump change. However, if this is really your only chance to make money on your sport, you can see how a mere $25,000 every four years won’t go very far. Because this is considered “prize” money, Uncle Sam takes his fair share too, leaving a U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning athlete with more like $15,000 for his or her efforts.

So…it’s not hard to see that, for some athletes, their passion and dedication to their respective sports can leave them in a tough financial position. It’s not surprising then that many athletes in some of the lesser-known sports find themselves filing for bankruptcy. While we all like the “feel good” stories that air during the Olympics, the coverage doesn’t always emphasize just how tough on family life or financial life being an elite athlete can be.

It’s good for us all to remember even the “greatest athletes in the world” also face financial hardships. When dealing with financial issues, it’s important to understand people in many different walks of life face these issues, for many different reasons. The reasons for bankruptcy are as diverse as the people filing.

If you’re facing financial hardship and need advice about the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your future, contact the Milwaukee Bankruptcy attorneys at Burr Law Office LLC. We are always here to help and want to help put you in the best position possible to succeed in your finances.

*For more information on prize money by country, see this article. http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/19/sport/olympic-rewards-by-country/

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Small Expenses That Have a Big Impact

It would be an understatement to say that there are many approaches to managing money. In fact, it seems that no two people manage money exactly the same way. Some people live fugally out of necessity, and some live frugally by choice. Others work hard at saving. And still, some seem to spend lavishly but never seem to run out of money. If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that a one-size-fits-all approach to managing money simply isn’t effective – everyone’s situation and everyone’s priorities are different.

But there is one phenomenon when it comes to money that we think is probably more common than not. Though it takes many different forms, most people in Milwaukee, southern Wisconsin, and America in general would probably admit they struggle with those little expenses that seem insignificant at the time but slowly add up to cost quite a bit of money. The biggest problem with these sneaky expenses is that most of us probably don’t think about them very often and before we know it, the money is spent.

As with just about everything in life, you can’t fix a problem if you don’t identify it first. And certainly not every one of these little expenditures is a “problem” – we’re not suggesting that. The key is to be aware of where your money is going and, most importantly, realizing that you are spending it. That being said, take a minute to think about your “small expenses” and whether or not they are adding up to make a big financial impact. That $3 cup of coffee a few times a week may seem insignificant, but it’s a big expense over time. Take this as an example:

One financial planner tells the story of a married couple of young, successful professionals. When they came to him for advice, they explained that, even though they were each making six-figure salaries, had no kids, and weren’t living in an extravagant house, they just never seemed to have any extra money around for retirement or savings or any special projects. After taking them through an exercise where he asked them to think about their “typical day,” he realized they were each making three stops per day for premium coffee—before work, during lunch, and after work. When he did some math, he showed them that they were spending almost $20,000 a year on coffee!

While a story that extreme probably isn’t very common, the phenomenon is all too common. Many of us probably couldn’t spend $20,000 a year on coffee and not notice it, but we probably could do without an extra trip to the vending machine each day, one fewer pair of shoes each month, or packing a lunch from home a couple times a week instead of going out every day. We’d like to encourage you to think if there is anything in your life that you wouldn’t miss terribly, and then calculate how much you spend on it in a week…or a month…or a year. You may be surprised.

Finally, we aren’t suggesting that anyone go without simple joys in life. Sometimes the expense is worth it. We are only suggesting that sometimes money can slip through all of our fingers without any of us ever really noticing it. The key is being in control and acknowledging the small expenses in your life so they don’t add up on you unknowingly. Perhaps the money you save will allow you to take an extra couple days of vacation or buy a car a couple model years newer.

As Milwaukee bankruptcy attorneys, we at Burr Law Office LLC certainly are not suggesting that small lifestyle changes will turn your finances around immediately. Financial planning, which includes considering bankruptcy, requires consideration of many different factors. At Burr Law Office LLC, we’re always ready to help you evaluate your situation and present you with options that you have under the law to protect your own financial well-being, your future, and the future of your family.

If you are facing tough financial decisions, please schedule a consultation with one of our Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyers today and see how we can help you. We are committed to helping good people make the best out of their tough situations, and we are experts at doing it.

It’s the Economy!

how the economy affects debt professionals and finances in MilwaukeeWhen working for the Bill Clinton campaign in 1992, political strategist James Carville came up with three key campaign talking points to keep staffers on message and hung them up for everyone to see in Clinton’s Little Rock, Arkansas campaign headquarters. They were:

  1. Change vs. more of the same
  2. The economy, stupid
  3. Don’t forget health care

Though these talking points were really only ever intended for campaign staffers and other insiders, they kind of leaked their way outside and became key themes the public started to associate with the Clinton campaign. Number two especially resonated with people, and soon Clinton supporters all over were saying, “It’s the economy, stupid!” The Clinton campaign and his supporters truly understood how important the issue of having a robust economy was to the majority of Americans. They decided if they could make the best case about ultimately taking care of the pocketbooks of the people of the U.S., they could win the election. In short, they understood money has the power to motivate people.

Even though quite a bit of time has passed since 1992, poll after poll still shows voters most often say the economy is the number one factor they consider when casting their votes. Needless to say, there are many different opinions about how to go about creating a strong economy, and it’s certainly not our place here to weigh in on policy, but since 2016 is a presidential election year, we know the state of the economy will certainly be discussed more and more as November approaches. In all reality, the candidate who convinces the American public he or she will do the best job handling the economy may very well be the winner of the White House and become our next president.

So now that we’ve established “It’s the economy” people care about, what do you think? When people stop and think about it, the state of the economy really does often times have a huge, direct impact on the lives of many Americans. For example, a poor economy may mean the loss of a job. The loss of a job has a huge, immediate effect on a family. Or maybe it’s not the loss of a job altogether, but it’s a stagnate salary or wages while cost of living prices continue to climb.

Conversely, when the economy is strong and people are making more money, they’re often spending more, saving more, and are better able to pay their bills. Perhaps the need to finance items or borrow on credit cards isn’t as strong as it is in times of financial hardship. To be sure, every person and every family is different; however, I think it is safe to say most Americans prefer the economy be strong and that all working Americans are able to make ends meet.

When we discuss bankruptcy and indebtedness, it’s important to remember the economy can often have a huge impact on the trends we see in our office as Milwaukee bankruptcy attorneys at Burr Law Office LLC. From this standpoint, we understand why so many people see the economy as the number one issue. No one likes going through financial hardships, and, when a weak economy makes getting out of a financial hole even harder, it’s no wonder people want to see it given top (or near top) priority by our elected officials.

Needless to say, there are a variety of different political issues that good-intentioned citizens can debate and disagree about. And, for some voters, there may be issues that are more important to them than the economy. But when we look at the profound impact the American economy has in the lives of individuals and families, it is quite easy to understand why this one issue seems to be pretty high on the priority list for most American voters.

So whether the economy is struggling or humming along, we understand that sometimes people need the help of experts and the help of bankruptcy laws to help them out during a troubling financial situation. At Burr Law Office LLC, we always work with the best interests of our Milwaukee area clients in mind, and we work to protect the future and the financial well being of you and your family. In all types of economic climates, we’re here to serve you. Give us a call today and find out how we can help you.