Category: ‘Credit Card Debt’

More Older Americans Filing for Bankruptcy

August 6, 2018 Posted by kingcade

A greater number of Americans who are 65 years of age and older are filing for bankruptcy. The reasons for this increase in bankruptcy filings are numerous, including the loss of pensions, high medical expenses, and lack of savings. Regardless of the reasons, research is consistently showing that individuals at retirement age of 65 years old or older are three times more likely to file for bankruptcy than this age group in previous years.

One reason for this trend is the instability behind the government safety net that was once there for retirees as they left the work force. Social security was always considered a given, something that would support the retiree throughout their remaining years.  Retirees are now having to wait longer to receive their full social security benefits, causing them to struggle to make ends meet until that time.

The pension plans they always considered were a given are now replaced with 401(k) plans, which require self-contribution for them to be successful. Many of these individuals are paying out-of-pocket for medical expenses, and many are being forced into early retirement before they are financially ready to live without a reliable, steady income.

According to Consumer Reports, from February 2013 to November 2016, bankruptcy statistics showed that there were 3.6 bankruptcy filings for every 1,000 individuals between the ages of 65 to 74 years old. This number shows a significant increase from the 1.2 bankruptcy filings for every 1,000 individuals in the same age category in 1991.

Looking at all bankruptcy filings made currently, 12.2 percent of those who filed are older than 65 years old. In 1991, only 2.1 percent of all filings were from individuals older than 65. The problem is the generation following this age group is also filing for bankruptcy in greater numbers. The best explanation for why this is occurring are structural shifts for these generations.

Of the reasons given for why they are filing for personal bankruptcy, these filers are reporting medical debt as a leading cause. The recession of 2008 has also been a leading cause for why these aging filers are facing such difficult financial circumstances. The recession wiped out a great deal of their investments, leaving everyone, including this demographic, leaving them with little money to retire with and a small amount of liquid assets with which to pay medical bills. Lastly, many wives in this generation are outliving their husbands, those in the family who were the main breadwinners and the individuals handling the family finances. Once the husband dies, the surviving spouses may not know how to handle the finances, resulting in decisions that could later lead to bankruptcy court. The notion may seem dated, but in this generation, it is an all-too-common occurrence.

For many, bankruptcy offers a fresh start providing the relief needed from collection proceedings and harassment from debt collectors.  But what are the signs that it’s time to file for bankruptcy? Debt collectors can be anything but subtle in their efforts to receive payment on a debt, and this added stress can be too much for an older individual. Filing for bankruptcy puts these efforts to a halt and at the very least gives the individual a chance to breathe and to receive relief from this type of communication. If you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida, you can use Florida bankruptcy exemptions to protect your property, social security and retirement savings.  In addition, residents are provided unlimited exemptions for homestead, annuities, and the cash surrender value of a life insurance policy.

Click here to read more on this topic.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

The Dangers of Subprime Credit Cards

August 1, 2018 Posted by kingcade

When someone has less than perfect credit and is looking to improve his or her credit score, it can be tempting to look to a subprime credit card. In fact, many consumers looking to start from scratch in rebuilding a low FICO score choose subprime credit cards as their preferred method of rebuilding credit. These credit cards, while they work for some, come with their own set of hidden dangers that should be understood before signing on the dotted line.

A subprime credit card is a credit card issued to individuals who carry a lower, substandard credit score or who have a very limited credit history. Normally, these cards have a higher interest rate than other types of credit cards granted to prime borrowers. In addition to the higher rates, these cards also come with extra fees, as well as lower credit limits.

It is estimated that approximately 40 percent of millennials have what is known as subprime credit, according to credit reporting agency, TransUnion. Of the over 16 million Americans who have credit scores lower than 600 have at least one credit card. Many of them have more than one card, each card holding a significant balance.

Many people are under the misconception that to rebuild credit, an individual needs to get a card and maintain a balance, while paying the minimum payments. When the advertisements pop up on these individual’s computer screens, promising a way to build credit through a subprime credit card, it can be very tempting to click on the ad and sign up right then. However, many of these individuals do not understand what the cons are to sign up for a subprime credit card, and they do not do their homework in researching the negative aspects before signing up for the card.

Hidden credit card fees are oftentimes where people get hit the hardest. Fees can even get as high as being 25 percent of what the available credit balance is on the very first day the card is used. At that rate, it can be nearly impossible for the consumer to catch up.

Subprime credit cards also tend to carry nonrefundable yearly costs. Of the unsecured subprime credit cards surveyed, all nine of them had some type of nonrefundable annual cost. On average, this cost is just a little over $150 on the first year the card is used. The annual percentage rate (APR) for these cards can range as high as 30 percent, which keeps the balance high, no matter how hard the cardholder tries at paying down the balance.

TransUnion reported that the average American who has a low credit score carries 2.5 credit cards. Of these individuals who were surveyed, approximately $300 of their income annually goes towards paying the high credit card fees that went along with those cards, not including the monthly interest that they pay on the balance held on each card.

Occasionally, a subprime credit card will have an annual fee that must be paid from the start. These credit card annual fees will appear on the card statements and can take up 25 percent of the cardholder’s credit line. Ideally, the credit utilization ration will be 10 percent, but for individuals with subprime credit, this number is impracticable.

It is for this reason that many credit advisors recommend that a secured credit card be used by someone just coming out of a bankruptcy or in a bad financial situation to rebuild credit. Unlike a subprime card, a secured card holds lower fees and less risk. Many secured cards offer a graduation program, meaning if the cardholder can establish a good payment history, eventually that person will move up to an unsecured credit card with a good rate. Examples of secured credit card programs include the Capital One Secured Mastercard and the Discover it Secured Card. Secured cards often require the cardholder pay an initial deposit through a connected bank account, or, if someone does not have a bank account, programs exist that allow for a secured card to be issued through an approval process and low annual fee.

It is important that the credit card not carry too high of a balance, and that the cardholder pay the minimum balance every month on time. Only use the card for small, manageable purchases, and keep an eye on the cardholder’s FICO score to monitor any changes in a positive or negative direction.

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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

 

 

How Debt Can Sabotage Your Retirement Plans

July 25, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Getting out of debt can be tough at any age, but for those nearing retirement age the challenge can be particularly daunting.

According to an Experian study published in 2017, Baby Boomers hold on average approximately $188,828 in mortgage debt and over $27,000 in other debt. Consumers who are considered Generation X who are now entering their 50s hold even more debt, with $231,774 in mortgage debt and $30,334 in other debt.

While it is normally agreed that younger individuals are more likely to carry debt because they are just starting their lives and have a longer period to pay off the debt, the survey showed that only 18 percent of households with workers 50 years or older did not have any debt. The most common types of debt include: credit cards, mortgages and car loans.

People who carry debt tend to have less discretionary income to save for the future, especially when it comes to retirement. However, with pensions being eliminated and the uncertainty of Social Security benefits, the need to save for retirement is more important now than ever. It is a given that workers need to contribute towards their 401(k) accounts, which many do. However, more workers are also borrowing from their 401(k) accounts- and paying the price for it.

In fact, approximately one in six workers over the age of 50 have taken a loan from their 401(k) to pay off some other type of debt, an unplanned major expense, medical bills or other financial issue. In the past, emergency savings accounts were meant to help people through these types of financial issues, but currently, for workers who are over 50 years old have only an average of $10,000 in their savings accounts.

The problem with borrowing from a 401(k) is it can be risky for the borrower. Many times, if the person cannot repay the loan from the 401(k) within a set period for any reason, he or she will end up owing the IRS a great deal of money, which can include a 10 percent early withdrawal tax penalty.

Prior to the 2017 tax law, a person who borrowed from his or her 401(k) had 60 days after leaving a job to repay the loan, or a penalty would be assessed. However, for loans taken from a 401(k) after the start of 2018, and the person leaves a job, the borrower can put the money back into the plan, into an IRA or a new 401(k) plan up until October of the following tax year to avoid the penalty.

How are retirement accounts treated in bankruptcy?  Individual retirement accounts like 401(k)’s and IRA’s are protected in bankruptcy, along with social security and pensions worth up to $1.245 million are all exempt from creditors during bankruptcy. This means that retirement income and savings are out of reach and protected under federal law.  That is why you should never pull from retirement accounts to pay off debt like credit cards or medical bills you cannot afford to pay.

Some people think that filing for bankruptcy means they will lose everything.  That is one of the biggest bankruptcy myths out there.  To the contrary, you will likely get to keep a lot of your possessions including homes, cars and other assets.  A vast majority of Chapter 7 cases are “no-asset” cases, which means the debtor is not required to give up any of their possessions.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

More Millennials Carry Credit Card Debt than Student Loan Debt

July 23, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Student loan debt has said to have been the biggest financial burden the Millennial generation will face, but more and more individuals in this generation say they are in fact, struggling with credit card debt. In fact, credit card debt – as opposed to student loan debt – is the most prevalent type of debt among the group.  According to a recent NBC News/GenForward survey, 46 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 34 carry credit card debt. Approximately 36 percent of them carry student loan debt. The survey reported that around three out of four Millennials carried some type of debt. More than 75 percent of those surveyed said they carried at least one type of debt, including credit cards, student loans and car loans. Only one in five Millennials reported having a mortgage debt.

One-fourth of these Millennials who carry credit card debt have balances of more than $30,000. One-fourth say that their balances are below $10,000. Around 11 percent of those in this age group surveyed have over $100,000 in debt with 22 percent of them being debt free.

The survey found that Millennials with college degrees were more likely to have credit card debt with 56 percent reported graduating with credit card debt. Forty percent who held credit card debt did not have a college degree.

When it comes to having a personal savings, 62 percent of Millennials owed more in debt than they had in a savings account. Only less than one-fourth had more in their savings account than owed in debt. Approximately one in three Millennials have less than $1,000 in savings. One-fourth of Millennials have no savings at all.

Entering the workforce with such a large amount of debt pushes young individuals to hold off on saving for the future, which leaves many of them unprepared in the event of an emergency. It also puts them at a slower start in preparing for retirement.

When asked if they would have trouble paying on an unexpected financial expense of $1,000 or more, two-thirds of them stated they would have a hard time meeting that obligation. Out of the group surveyed, those who were African-American or Latino would have the hardest time paying these obligations, although the difficulty was not exclusive to just these two groups.

If the Millennials were parents, around 48 percent of them reported that they would have a great deal of trouble in the event a financial crisis; for example, a job loss or medical emergency. Of the Millennials who did not have children, 39 percent of them reported this fact.

Credit card debt and student loan debt have caused a number of Millennials to postpone major life events like starting a family, purchasing a home and saving for retirement.

Click here to read more on this story.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

 

 

Tips for Eliminating Credit Card Debt

July 16, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Credit card debt is a problem for many people today. While having a credit card is not necessarily a bad thing, if you are unable to pay off the entire balance each month, the interest, fees and finance charges can accumulate quickly.  This can eventually cause your credit card balance to spiral out of control. It helps to know what steps to take to eliminate credit card debt before it becomes too big of a problem.

  1. Use all your resources.

One tip that helps in attacking credit card debt is to maximize all the resources available to you. It can take a lot of time and dedication, but it does get the job done. To be successful with the method of throwing all your resources at your debt, you need to do the following:

  • Rely on cash-only to pay for expenses. Make sure these expenses are essential in nature and not frivolous, causing you to waste more money rather than make progress.
  • Put together a list of all credit card debt, detailing the interest rate for each card and the minimum payment on each card.
  • Use the debt avalanche method to attack the debt. What this entails is the person chooses the card with the highest interest rate, and he or she uses all extra money that he or she has available at paying off that card. After that card is paid off, the money that was used to pay that card goes to the next one, and so on. The idea is the money that goes towards the card snowballs in size, helping to pay each one down quicker than the person would be able to do with just meeting monthly minimum payments.
  • Find extra money to pay towards credit cards by creating a realistic budget and sticking to it.
  1. Consider a Balance-Transfer Credit Card.

If the person has a good credit rating, it is possible that he or she could open a new credit card with a lower interest rate for the sole purpose of transferring the balance from a current card with a higher interest rate. Many cards offer promotions for zero-percent annual percentage rates (APRs) with no balance transfer fees during that limited time period. This idea may seem like a bad one since it encourages the person to rely on a credit card to pay off another credit card. However, it can be a good idea if the person has good credit and is dedicated to paying off the balance on the new card, once the old balance is transferred. It is also important that the card holder take advantage of the introductory period to make sure the interest rate stays low while the amount is paid off. Once the period is over, the interest rate could jump up, thus bringing the cardholder to square one.

  1. Credit Consolidation Loan

Another method that is possible to pay off credit card debt is through a credit card consolidation loan. These loans are also referred to as debt consolidation or personal loans. Many of them are unsecured, meaning the person does not need to have assets or collateral to cover the obligation. The interest rates on these loans are usually lower than what the credit card interest rates would be, which makes it a little easier for the borrower to pay back the loan and make progress rather than pay the minimum payment owed on the credit card. Another benefit is the loan allows the person to only make one monthly payment rather than several different minimum payments on various credit cards. It is possible the borrower will need a cosigner, depending on his or her credit score, to back up the loan.

  1. Debt Management Plan

Another option that is available to individuals struggling to pay off credit card debt is a debt management plan. Debt management plans line the debtor up with a credit counselor who works with that person to create a budget and a plan to pay back the debt. The counselor will also speak with the person’s creditors on behalf of that individual and can often negotiate down the debt amount or terms of repayment. It is important to find a quality company when choosing a debt management company. Do research before jumping into the first choice and ensure that the company is legitimate and not a scam. An average debt management plan can take anywhere from four to five years for a person to successfully clear his or her debt.

  1. File for Bankruptcy

If none of these options work or if the debt is simply too much, bankruptcy may be the best option. Chapter 7 is the fastest form of consumer bankruptcy and forgives most unsecured debts like credit card debt, medical bills and personal loans.  There are certain qualifications a consumer must meet in regards to income, assets and expenses to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is determined by the bankruptcy means test.

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2018/06/26/credit-card-debt-5-cost-effective-ways-you-can-erase/714014002/