“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!

Important Factors in Making a Decision about Bankruptcy

For most people, the decision of whether or not to file for bankruptcy is not one to be taken lightly. After all, there are implications that go along with the decision. Today we’d like to take a look at a few things you should think about and discuss if you find yourself making the decision of whether to file for bankruptcy.

First of all, it’s important to reiterate that everyone’s situation is unique, and there are no “one-size-fits-all” approaches to handling financial matters. Similarly, not everyone is in the same place in life either, and all those factors need to be taken into account when making a big financial decision such as whether or not to file for bankruptcy. Because of the case-by-case nature of bankruptcy, it’s always best to consult a qualified bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options and to explain your specific situation. These attorneys are trained and are experienced and will be able to give you advice based on the information you have given them.

That being said, there are a few things most people can think about when deciding whether or not to file for bankruptcy – these are very common considerations which are likely to apply to many people, despite their different places in life and different situations.

First of all, if you do decide filing for bankruptcy is your best option, you’ll have to determine which type of personal bankruptcy to file. This decision is best made in consultation with your attorney, as each type makes sense in certain situations. Chapter 13 bankruptcy creates a repayment plan in which the filer uses a payment plan to pay off his or her debt in three to five years. This is often chosen if there was a temporary event that caused someone to get behind financially, such as a loss of a job, that has since been rectified. Chapter 13 allows you to keep your assets while requiring you to repay your missed payments via your payment plan.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes away all debt, and this option is often chosen when debt is extremely high or when there is simply not enough income to come up with a payment plan. There are laws requiring being qualified for chapter 7, so this is not always an option for everyone.

Another thing to consider is whether you’ve had a major life event lately. Maybe, completely out of your control, a major medical event, divorce, or loss of a job might have increased your debt significantly or reduced your income significantly. A qualified attorney can help you evaluate your situation and help you decide what your options are.

There is then the matter of considering how bankruptcy will affect your credit. Typically, a bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for about ten years. But, depending on what your current financial situation is, a bankruptcy can actually help improve your credit score in as little as a year or two. If you’ve missed payments and have bill collectors or other agencies reporting your missed payments, getting on a chapter 13 payment plan together and starting to rectify the debts and missed payments can actually help you to boost your credit score. If, however, you have plans to buy a house in the next few years, or if you know you will need an auto loan or need to take out a line of credit, you may want to re-consider bankruptcy unless it is absolutely necessary. It might be very hard to make any of these things happen with a recent bankruptcy on your credit report.

If you have any joint accounts, another thing to consider is how bankruptcy will affect these. While bankruptcy will dissolve your financial obligations, if you have a spouse or someone else on a joint account, that co-signer will now become solely responsible for the debt. This is common after a divorce. One way to avoid this from happening is to pay off the debt before filing or by placing the debt into only one person’s name.

Finally, it is important to know that filing for bankruptcy is a matter of public record. Anyone who is interested can look into this information. Many times, people don’t realize this or bother to look; however, you should be aware that it will be a matter of public record and available for anyone who would want to look into it. Depending on your public profile, this piece of information might help you make your decision.

At Burr Law Office LLC, as expert Milwaukee bankruptcy attorneys, we want to help you make the right decision for your unique situation by taking all the factors into account. If you are considering bankruptcy as an option, talk to us and get the benefit of our expertise and experience. Call (262) 827-0375 today!

The Role of Emotions in the Bankruptcy Process

If you’re facing a difficult financial situation in your personal life, chances are your emotions may be running high. If you have a spouse or family, you might be feeling stressed out even talking about finances with them. Or perhaps you’re having feelings of guilt regarding your situation. We’ve written previously about guilt and bankruptcy, and why there is no need for it in the bankruptcy process, and it’s not our intention to cover that in this article again; however, we do recognize that the emotional component does play into your overall view of debt and bankruptcy – and how you go about trying to make a decision regarding the best way to help your situation.

First, and most importantly, we need to acknowledge that everyone handles challenges in life differently. Some people are able to handle adversity with an almost stoic attitude. For others, they may make it intensely personal and let it control their thoughts and actions. We certainly don’t intend to suggest that one approach is better than the other, but it is important to look at the roles, both good and bad, emotions can play in handling debt and bankruptcy. Understanding yourself and how you deal with adversity can be very helpful in evaluating financial situations both at the present time and moving forward.

First of all, let’s take a look at some cases in which too many emotions can be a negative in dealing with debt, bankruptcy, or other financial challenges. When dealing with finances, it’s all about numbers. Numbers are inhuman. They can’t be empathetic or take into account an individual’s situation. Numbers are numbers and they are what they are. Sometimes, people may try to convince themselves that they can get out of debt themselves if they just work hard enough or are disciplined enough about it. Other times, people may feel defeated and simply decide on complete inaction when dealing with their finances. In both cases, it can be extremely helpful to meet with a professional bankruptcy attorney who can help you objectively look at the situation. At Burr Law Office LLC, we’ve seen thousands of cases in and around Milwaukee and we will be able to give the right advice based on our experience and our ability to evaluate the numbers. In a sense, it’s our job to look at the raw numbers so that we can help you make the decision that will best protect you and your future.

Just as your emotions surrounding debt and financial issues can sometimes muddy the waters while you try to look for the best solution, they can be a good thing too. Even while working with professional bankruptcy attorneys like those at Burr Law Office LLC, your individual emotions and insights provide invaluable information to us. We need to know what is most important to you as we work to protect your future and the future of your family. If there was a situation that you want to share with us that will help us understand your unique circumstances it will give us good insight into how we should structure things or if there are certain, specific things we can do that will be to your advantage.

Finally, it can’t be stressed enough that it’s OK and normal for emotions to run high during difficult financial times. After all, even though money itself is inhuman, it affects so many things in our lives from where we live, how we live, how we provide for our families, and so much more. It is inevitable that these issues will tug at our emotions and cause stress. The biggest thing to remember, though, is to use emotional responses appropriately and not let them interfere with what’s ultimately in your best interest.

At Burr Law, we want to work with you to get you the best results possible for you, your future, and the future of your family. As experienced professionals, we will help you use the emotions surrounding your bankruptcy to your best advantage when appropriate and also help you focus on the objective data and raw numbers when that is appropriate. In all things, we work for you as your advocates, and with our talented and experienced team, we can provide you unparalleled insight.

So, if you are going through a financially difficult time and need to talk to seriously about your best options, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. You can always be sure we’ll give you the sound financial advice that you need.

Guilt & Bankruptcy

If you were to ask the average American who has never been through the bankruptcy process what he or she thinks about the cause of bankruptcy, I would venture to guess that the responses would vary but have a similar theme: it’s a math problem—there’s not enough money for debts and obligations.

While it’s true that, on the surface, there is a “math” problem involved in most cases on bankruptcy, that kind of response doesn’t really get at the heart of the matter. The reasons individuals file for bankruptcy are as unique as the people filing, and they go much deeper than being just a matter of “math.”

Unfortunately, because of the lack of understanding around the diverse causes of bankruptcy, some people have attached a negative stigma to the entire subject of bankruptcy. This negative stigma can leave people feeling guilty about their bankruptcy or even guilty about learning more about the prospect of bankruptcy.

Today I’d like to take a look at a few common myths regarding bankruptcy and why there is no place for guilt in the bankruptcy process. We’ll first look at why there is usually no reason to feel guilty, but we’ll also discuss why guilt can actually cause more problems than it needs to.

Myth: Bankruptcy is the result of irresponsible spending or poor money management.
Reality: While it wouldn’t be accurate to say that irresponsible spending is never the cause of bankruptcy, it’s simply not very often the case. Many people assume that credit card debt is always irresponsible debt. While, it’s true that credit card debt is a part of many bankruptcy cases, the reasons the debt was incurred are often very legitimate. Perhaps someone lost their job and just used a credit card to “get by” during a period of unemployment. They used the card to buy groceries, gas, or even pay for healthcare expenses. Many people truly believe that their situation is very temporary and will turn around quickly. If it doesn’t, they can find themselves having accumulated quite a bit of debt in a short period of time. When you add the interest charges, late fees, and other penalties that are often associated with credit cards, the debt snowballs and becomes unmanageable.

Myth: Bankruptcy is very uncommon and I must have really screwed up to find myself filing for bankruptcy.
Reality: Simply put, many people just plain don’t like to talk about their personal financial situation—especially if they feel it is less than ideal. If you feel you never hear of anyone else that you know who has filed for bankruptcy, your perception simply does not reflect the reality, and the statistics bear this out. Multiple millions of Americans file for bankruptcy every single year for a whole host of reasons.

Myth: Bankruptcy doesn’t happen to anyone who’s educated or wealthy—only poor and uneducated Americans need to rely on the bankruptcy laws.
Reality: Simply put, the statistics don’t support this assertion either. Poor, wealthy, uneducated, and educated alike all file for bankruptcy. Being wealthy, well-connected, or educated does not have a strong correlation to filing for bankruptcy. You should never consider yourself part of a certain “type” of people that file for bankruptcy. There’s no such thing as a typical “type.”

Finally, there’s one more reason guilt has no place in the bankruptcy process. Oftentimes, because people feel guilty about filing for bankruptcy, they put it off until it’s truly the last resort. In many cases, bankruptcy can be far more effective and beneficial earlier in the process than people realize, but because they feel guilty about it, they don’t seek help and wait until they feel they have no other options. The bankruptcy laws in the U.S. were written to protect you and your future, and when they are applicable, you should take full advantage for the sake of you and your family’s financial future.

If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, remember that guilt has no place in the process. As stated previously, the causes of bankruptcy are extremely diverse and most times very legitimate. Please also realize that feeling guilty may prevent you from making a solid, objective decision about what’s best for your future.

At Burr Law Office, we specialize in helping people protect their financial future and well-being. If you are feeling guilty or embarrassed about your financial situation, don’t be. We truly understand that everyone has a unique situation, and in everything we do, our one goal is to help you position yourself for your best outcome.

Dealing with Emotions in Bankruptcy

Making the decision to file for bankruptcy is not an easy one. There are a lot of emotions involved and it will likely cause a great amount of stress on all parties involved. Knowing how to cope with these emotions will make the bankruptcy process much easier. Here are a few tips from the Waukesha bankruptcy experts at Burr Law Office to consider.

Acceptance

The first and one of the most important ways to cope is acceptance. Negative feelings like regret and resentment are natural in these types of situations. Accepting these feelings will not mean you’re settling. On the contrary, it means you’re strong enough to work through a tough situation.

Garner Support

Having a strong support system, whether family members or close friends, will help make the process much easier. Having someone around to help you stay on track with payments is great, and surrounding yourself with people who understand your situation and are willing to help is extremely helpful.

Talk it Out

Different people cope with stress in different ways. Generally, having someone to talk to about your reservations or concerns will help make the process easier. Again, this could be a family member, close friend, or even your attorney. No matter the person, make sure it’s someone you can trust.

If you’ve found yourself in financial troubles and are considering Waukesha bankruptcy, contact Burr Law Office. Attorney Michael Burr has over 20 years of experience and strives to work one-on-one with each of his clients. If you’re looking for someone who cares, Burr Law Office is your solution.