Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

How Much of Your Monthly Income Should go Towards Paying Down Debt?

Consumer debt. It seems to be an inevitable part of life for many Americans. In fact, most American consumers carry some level of debt. Getting out of it, however, is not so easy, which is why so many Americans use at least some portion of their income to pay towards their debt. Determining how much is appropriate can be complicated, depending on the consumer’s individual circumstances.

Generally speaking, it is important to pay more than the monthly minimum payment. A good rule of thumb is to follow the 50/30/20 rule. What this budgeting rule entails is the consumer spends 50 percent of monthly after-tax income or net income towards essential living expenses, such as mortgage payments, utility bills, food, and transportation costs. After that 50 percent is paid, the consumer allots the next 30 percent to his or her “wants,” meaning eating out, going on vacation, and other non-essential expenses. The remaining 20 percent is left for paying off debt or saving for the future.

Not all debt is lumped into that 20 percent. Since a home and a car is considered a “need” instead of a “want,” mortgages and car payments are lumped into the “need” category or the initial 50 percent.

For mortgage debt, financial experts recommend that the consumer’s mortgage payments should be no more than 28 percent of his or her monthly income.  This amount allows the consumer enough room in their budget to allocate to other expenses or debts.

Financial experts also recommend that consumers put their credit card debts in the “needs” category of spending. Since credit card debt carries higher interest rates, making it significantly harder to pay off over time, which is why it is important that it be paid off as quickly as possible.

If the consumer is not able to pay off the credit card balance in full, it is advisable to put no more than 10 percent of the consumer’s income each month towards paying off credit card debt. However, putting any more than 10 percent of monthly income towards credit card debt can put him or her in a difficult financial position to pay the remainder of his or her other necessary expenses.

It is important that debt does not take up more than 36 percent of the consumer’s income. The consumer’s debt-to-income ratio is important which compares how much the consumer owns versus how much he or she owes.  Debt-to-income ratio is important when it comes to being approved for financing in the future. The higher the ratio, the harder it can be to obtain financing.

While these rules apply in many situations, every consumer’s individual circumstance is unique. These guidelines are meant to help consumers get on the right track. If the amount of debt the consumer is struggling with becomes to be too much, a consumer bankruptcy case may be the best option for him or her. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will be able to meet with the consumer and determine what would be the best course of action to help that person.

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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. Visit www.miamibankruptcy.com to learn more.

Credit Card Debt, Debt Collection, Debt Relief

How Much Debt is Too Much? Here are the Warning Signs.

For many people the word ‘debt’ is a four letter word. A word that resonates a certain fear and anxiety, oftentimes associated with credit card bills and collection calls. However, taking on certain kinds of debt can serve as a means to an end. For example, borrowing money to go to college and earn a degree, starting a business, or purchasing a home or car.

Determining how much debt is too much debt can be tricky. If you have a good job, are in good health, and keep track of your finances, and interest rates, debt can be managed effectively. If used wisely, and for things that grow in value, like a home or education, it can be useful.

Debt Relief

What is Debt Relief and When Should I Seek It?

Debt can seem like an insurmountable burden, impossible to escape once a consumer has gotten too far in. Different options are available for dealing with credit card debt, student loan debt, and other consumer debts.  

Many times, consumers find themselves overwhelmed with several different types of debt in differing amounts.

Debt Collection, Debt Relief

Understanding Zombie Debt and the Statute of Limitations

Consumer debts have what is called a statute of limitations. This is the amount of time the creditor can use the court to force a consumer to pay a debt. After the statute of limitations has expired on a debt, it is no longer legally enforceable. Occasionally, however, a consumer may be contacted regarding an old debt by a collector who hopes the consumer will ‘restart the statute of limitations.’

Zombie debt is debt that the consumer thinks is “dead,” meaning it is past the statute of limitations that the debt collector is now trying to bring back to life. While the debt collector cannot take the consumer to court to collect on the debt, there are no laws saying they cannot continue to contact the consumer to collect what is owed. Many times, debt collection agencies will purchase expired debt to turn a profit. Since the cost to buy expired debt is exceptionally low, even if they collect on a handful of accounts, they are still earning a profit.

Consumer Bankruptcy, Debt Relief

Defaulting on Debt v. Filing Bankruptcy

It can be tempting to want to walk away from debt in lieu of filing for bankruptcy. But doing so will not provide the consumer with the clean slate that a bankruptcy discharge offers. It is often better to face these debts in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case instead of choosing to default on them.

Whenever a consumer fails to make payments on a loan or financial obligation, this failure to pay is otherwise known as a default. Lenders all have their own requirements on what exactly qualifies as a “default,” including how many payments have been missed before the account is officially considered in default.

Debt Relief, Tax Debt

Three Cost-Effective Ways to Pay Off Tax Debt

With tax season coming to an end, many consumers are wondering how they are going to pay their outstanding tax bill. When it comes to tax debt, it is best to pay it off as quickly as possible and in one lump sum payment. However, payment in full is not always possible. Fortunately, there are options available for those struggling with tax debt. 

The official tax filing deadline was May 17, and all outstanding 2020 tax bills were technically due at that time. If a taxpayer was not able to pay the bill by this date, interest and penalties will begin accruing on the outstanding amount owed.   The penalty for not paying tax bills in full is 0.5 percent of the unpaid amount monthly until the full amount is paid. On top of interest, penalties will add up to 25 percent of the total amount owed. Because of these penalties, the quicker the tax bill can be paid, the better.  

Debt Collection, Debt Relief

Predatory Debt Collectors Barred from PPP Loans Under New Bill

New legislation introduced this week will effectively bar all predatory debt collectors from receiving money from funds received under the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  

The measure has been introduced by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and Marie Newman (D-Ill.). In announcing the proposed legislation, the lawmakers pointed to an analysis conducted by the Washington Post in January 2021. The Post reported several incidents where debt collection companies had harassed consumers for payment on debts after they had received their own financial assistance from federal PPP loans. It was their hope that this legislation will curb these practices and will effectively block predatory debt collection firms from receiving PPP money themselves.  

Debt Relief

Credit Counseling vs. Bankruptcy- Which one is right for you?

When it comes to dealing with debt, you have options.  Debt relief can ease the burden of overwhelming debt, but it’s not right for everyone. Given a person’s financial and personal circumstances, certain considerations should be kept in mind when making the determination between credit counseling and bankruptcy.

If the consumer has a steady income and can pay back his or her debt within a few months to a year, credit counseling may be the wise choice for him or her. However, if the person has an overwhelming amount of debt in comparison to his or her income, filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the better option.  

Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

The Best Way to Conquer Credit Card Debt

Many consumers find themselves still struggling with large amounts of credit card debt. Much of this credit card debt is carried over from previous years. Certain steps can be taken to tackle credit card debt and either pay it off in full or reduce the amount owed to a more reasonable number.   

The first step is to push the pause button on spending and inventory the situation. The consumer’s debt cannot be conquered until the spending stops. It is important to review what has been purchased the past few months, determining how much has been spent and what is owed. It also helps to write down what the interest rate is for each card, noting the balance owed and the minimum monthly payment. Taking this first step will allow the consumer to be able to put together a budget and a plan to pay off the debt over time.  

Once the consumer has a chance to review his or her debt situation, the next step is to select a strategy to pay down the debt. Two of the most common methods include the snowball method and the avalanche method.  

With the snowball method, the consumer arranges his or her credit card balances from smallest to largest balances. The consumer focuses his or her attention on the card with the smallest balance first, paying down as much as possible on that card while continuing to make the minimum monthly payments on the other cards. Once the first card is paid in full, the consumer focuses on the card with the next smallest balance until all cards are paid off in full. The snowball method requires a great deal of patience and discipline, but it can be an effective way to pay down debt. However, this method does involve paying more in interest over time since credit cards with higher balances tend to have higher interest rates. 

The avalanche method works similarly to the snowball method, but the consumer focuses on the credit card with the highest interest rate first. This method allows the consumer to get out of debt quicker than the snowball method since it focuses on the larger balances with the higher interest rates first, but it can be hard to stay motivated with this method since seeing the results of the consumer’s efforts can be harder to immediately see. 

Another method to pay down credit card debt involves consolidating the debt through a personal loan or balance transfer.  Many credit card companies offer balance transfers, allowing the consumer to transfer multiple credit card balances to one card with a zero or low introductory interest rates. It is important that the consumer pay the balance down before that promotional period expires, however. Otherwise, the interest rate can skyrocket at the end of the promotional period, leaving the consumer in a worse position than before. A personal loan can also be used to pay off all the consumer’s credit card balances. This method allows the consumer to focus his or her attention on one, fixed monthly payment over time in lieu of multiple credit card payments.      

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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.   

Debt Relief, student loan debt, Student Loans

White House Considering Executive Action to Cancel Portion of Nation’s Federal Student Loan Debt

The Biden administration is considering issuing an executive order that would effectively cancel some portion of the $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt held by 43 million Americans. This statement comes as no surprise as student loan forgiveness and student loan reform were consistently topics of discussion during the 2020 Presidential campaign.  

The statement came last Thursday from White House press secretary Jen Psaki. She indicated the administration was looking into whether President Biden had the executive authority to cancel a portion of the nation’s outstanding student loan debt. However, they also indicated that they would welcome any legislation brought forth by Congress to do the same.