Debt Relief Through the Bankruptcy?
The Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act was passed in early 2005 with the intention of reforming American bankruptcy law as we know it. The existing laws, according to Congress and the credit card companies, allowed too many debtors who might be capable of repaying at least some of their debts to have them wiped away by the courts. The new law was intended, rightly or wrongly, to eliminate the "bankruptcy of convenience" that allowed many consumers to run up huge debts without repaying them. Under the new law, filing is much more difficult, time consuming and expensive; so much so that it has discouraged many would-be filers from seeking debt relief through the courts.
Given that debt relief through the bankruptcy courts is now so much more difficult, it makes sense that consumers with mounting bills might want to seek alternatives. In order to do that, debtors need to find some other way to manage their increasing debt. Below are a few tips that might help consumers avoid filing for bankruptcy.
Negotiate with your creditors - It is generally a good idea to talk to your creditors as soon as you have a problem. If you are missing payments, call them and explain why. Creditors want to get paid, but they also understand that everyone has financial problems from time to time. They may be able to work out a repayment arrangement with you that you can afford. You will receive much more cooperation from your lenders if you are honest and explain your problem than to simply stop paying without explanation.
Seek credit counseling - Credit counseling sessions are mandatory for filing for bankruptcy, but many people with little or no formal financial training could benefit from meeting with a counselor and explaining their financial problems. The agency can offer help with money management and repayment plans. They may even be able to negotiate some better terms with your creditors if you haven’t already done so yourself. Many agencies are nonprofit, so you will generally find their services to be quite affordable.
Get a debt consolidation loan - A consolidation loan is one that combines several debts, often at high interest rates, into one loan at a lower rate. A home equity loan is ideal for this, and thanks to rising real estate prices, many people now have a reasonable amount of equity in their property. As a bonus, the interest on a home equity loan is tax deductible. Other credit cards with low-interest introductory rates are also good for debt consolidation.
Sell your house - If you do have a lot of equity in your property, it may become necessary to sell your house to pay your bills. This is a drastic step, as you will have to find another place to live, but if the alternative is losing your home to foreclosure, it may be the only sensible choice.
Bankruptcy shouldn’t be taken lightly. Having your debts removed by the courts will leave a mark on your credit report for up to ten years and will make it more difficult and expensive to borrow money or obtain credit in the future. Smart consumers know that avoiding bankruptcy, if at all possible, is a smart financial move.
Bankruptcy and Students
Young people in their early twenties, ,of which many are students are becoming a fast-growing number of bankruptcy filers. Bankruptcy and students seems to be becoming a problem, and according to recent surveys, it is believed that teenagers younger than nineteen years of age own at least one credit card of their own. Also, it is reported that two thirds of undergraduate students have a minimum of one open credit card account, and it is believed that the average student graduates owes three to four thousand dollars in credit card debt along with other debts.
With more college students being marketed credit cards, it has even made some states enact legislation that limits solicitation to college students and recent bankruptcy reform procedures are also concerned with addressing the problem of bankruptcy and students. The reason behind bankruptcy and students becoming a big problem could lie in the fact that college students are learning to live alone and manage their own money for the first time, and thus find it hard to keep track of their credit card purchases.
According to experts, people tend to shop more with credit cards than when spending cash. When interest, late charges, increase in minimum payments are factored in, it makes for difficulty in managing finances and thus leads to bankruptcy and students becoming a growing malpractice.
Bankruptcy and students loans that are not repaid can often make a student feel as if he or she has just graduated from the school of hard knocks. Bankruptcy is not the escape route that students may be thinking of taking in order to avoid paying back government backed student loans as well as school loans backed by non-profit agencies. These loans are not discharged in a bankruptcy and have to be paid back after bankruptcy, though if a student can prove (very difficult actually) that the loan constitutes a considerable hardship, it can be got rid off without repayment.
Student loans, under normal circumstances, cannot be discharged under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. By using loopholes in government legislation, bankruptcy seems to offer an escape route to avoid paying off student loans, and the number of students that used bankruptcy to avoid paying off their debts increased dramatically over the recent past few years.
The bottom line is that it is the bankruptcy judge that has the final say, and for the lucky student, the odd bankruptcy judge may allow him or her to discharge the loan by filing for bankruptcy. Lenders too, cannot send their bills to a student who is in bankruptcy and need to wait till the case is decided. Often, it is better for the student to deal directly with the lender and find a mutually agreeable way of settling the debt, rather than going in for bankruptcy to avoid repayment.