Coronavirus, Debt Relief

Mortgage Debt Reaches Record High of $10 Trillion

The American housing market is booming, even though various aspects of the nation’s economy are struggling due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  During the last quarter of 2020, the nation’s mortgage debt load reached a record high of $10 trillion, according to figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Low interest rates for home mortgages is a big catalyst for this boom in the housing market.  

Consumers are taking advantage of record low interest rates when making home purchases. At the start of November 2020, mortgage rates reached a 12th record low in 2020.  As a result, mortgage debt jumped by $85 billion between July and September 2020, reaching a high of $9.86 trillion.  

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Credit Card Debt

How the Pandemic is Changing Americans’ Credit Card Habits

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way of life for consumers in both good and bad ways. One change has to do with the way Americans utilize their credit cards post-pandemic. 

A recent study conducted by Money and Morning Consult surveyed how American consumers have been using their credit cards during this crisis. What the study found was Americans are continuing to use their cards. However, the way by which they are using their cards has changed.  

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Financial Advice

When You Should Use Your Emergency Fund

Financial experts recommend that consumers put away a little money every paycheck towards an “emergency fund.”  This money is meant to cover the ‘unexpected expense,’ whether that be a car repair, medical bill, or essential home repair. With the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and many people losing their jobs, it may be time to utilize your emergency fund.

Financial Hardship

One of the most common circumstances where a person would utilize their emergency fund is in response to financial hardship. The stimulus funds offered by the CARES Act helped for a short period of time, and many landlords, mortgage holders, credit card companies and other creditors have been willing to work with individuals who are struggling to pay their bills as a result of this crisis. However, even with that help, a person may still need to take some money from their emergency savings to pay for bills that need paid. Once your income returns, then begin replenishing the money taken from savings.

Bankruptcy Law, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Debt Relief

A Tidal Wave of Bankruptcies Expected in the Coming Months

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues, many small businesses are filing for bankruptcy to help reorganize their debt and keep creditors at bay. The types of companies being affected include small mom and pop shops, as well as larger corporations.  Hertz and J. Crew, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the number of businesses following suit are expected to rise.

According to Edward I. Altman, the man responsible for creating the Z score, a figure that is used to predict business failures, the year 2020 is expected to set a record for ‘mega bankruptcies,’ meaning businesses with $1 billion or more in debt will be filing for bankruptcy protection. The effects of this could be devastating to the U.S. economy.

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Debt Relief

How to Avoid a Big Tax Hit on Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits

Man fills in Unemployment benefits application form.

A record 33 million American workers are currently collecting unemployment benefits amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. And with these benefits come the inevitable tax repercussions. Here are some ways to lessen the impact.

Unemployment benefits received through the state, as well as the $600 coming from the CARES Act, provided by the federal government through July 31, are all considered taxable income. While Social Security and Medicare costs do not come out of unemployment benefits immediately like they do with normal paychecks, the recipient will be taxed by both the state and federal government. This can result in the person winding up paying in the long run when it comes to tax season if he or she has not paid enough tax throughout the year. However, this little “surprise” can be avoided by taking a few extra steps when receiving unemployment benefits.

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Now Carrying Credit Card Debt Amid Pandemic

Credit card debt has dramatically increased since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to recent data from CreditCards.com. Their data reports that 120 million U.S. consumers, or 47 percent of all consumers, had credit card debt as of April 2020, which is a 43 percent increase from March.

Millennials were hit the hardest with 34 percent of them reporting that they used credit regularly. Experian, one of the three main credit reporting agencies, reported in March that U.S. consumer debt reached a staggering $14.1 trillion with credit cards making up $829 billion of this debt. This level is the highest seen since the Great Recession.

Bankruptcy Law, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Debt Relief

How Has the Coronavirus Affected Bankruptcy Filings?

Even though unemployment filings have skyrocketed, and countless businesses have been struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, bankruptcy courts have not been flooded with new cases- yet.

When compared to bankruptcy filings in April 2019, there were 47 percent fewer consumer bankruptcy filings in April 2020, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI).

Bankruptcy Law

New Bankruptcy Law Takes Effect Benefiting Small Businesses

For the most part, business bankruptcy, also known as Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, has not been a viable option for most struggling small businesses. The process can be long and complicated, and the costs associated with filing under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code have kept most small businesses out of this option, leaving them to either pursue a personal bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 or to close their doors completely. However, the Small Business Reorganization Act (SBRA), which officially took effect two months ago, has taken away some of these barriers, opening the possibilities for Chapter 11 filings for small businesses.

Originally, the SBRA applied only to businesses or sole proprietors with less than $2.7 million in debt. However, when the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis hit in March, Congress temporarily increased this debt cap to $7.5 million in debt, opening the doors to many more businesses to take advantage of the SBRA.

Bankruptcy Law, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Debt Relief

Coronavirus and the Changes it has had to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code

The coronavirus pandemic has affected our country in so many ways. It has also affected the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, specifically through the recently passed $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

Within the CARES Act were revisions to parts of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, meant to help small businesses and consumers during this difficult time. The CARES Act amended the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (SBRA), which temporarily increased the debt threshold for filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy relief. The debt threshold increased from $2,725,625 to $7,500,000. After one year, the threshold will go back down to the original amount.

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

How to Manage Credit Card Debt After Losing a Job

Many South Floridians are finding themselves out of work due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This loss of income can be devastating and make it difficult to continue paying monthly expenses, including credit card debt.

Before the crisis hit, credit card debt had reached an all-time high after the Federal Reserve reported that the fourth-quarter of 2019 credit card debt increased by $46 billion to $930 billion nationwide. It is expected that balances will only increase as Americans find themselves shut in with limited income being earned. Additionally, serious delinquencies were on the rise at the end of 2019, and these numbers are also expected to trend upward, specifically for consumers between the ages of 18 and 29.