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

How Credit Card Debt Affects Your Health

Credit card debt can cause a lot of damage, and not just to your credit score. Credit card debt can cause stress and wreak havoc on relationships. It can also lead to depression, anxiety, and other health problems. Once you are in debt, reaching your financial goals becomes much harder. Spending money paying debt leaves you with less money for retirement savings, purchasing a home, and achieving other financial milestones.

According to a recent study, carrying significant debt can lead to more than just a bad day. Researchers followed a group of baby boomers, starting when they were between the ages of 28 and 40 and then checking in with them again in their 50’s and older. The group was then separated into subgroups based on how much unsecured debt they had. According to the data, the more unsecured debt a person had, the higher level of physical pain he or she lived with when compared to individuals in the other groups.

This study is not the first one conducted on the effects of debt on consumers’ overall health. This research, however, does show that a link exists between physical pain and how much debt a person is carrying.

The study evaluated the financial and health situations of 7,850 people within the Baby Boomer generation, originally starting with their responses the 1979 National Longitudinal Study of Youth. The researchers found that individuals who consistently carried high debt levels had a 76 percent greater chance of reporting daily chronic pain in their lives as compared to consumers who reportedly had very little to no debt.

Even individuals who had taken steps to reduce their overall debt load reported higher levels of physical pain with a 50 percent higher chance of individuals within this group feeling chronic pain.

Several different factors can play into why debt has such a negative impact on a person’s health. If a person has a significant amount of debt, he or she likely has fewer resources to use towards other areas of his or her life that would help prevent any medical issue, including adequate healthcare and preventive medicine.

Additionally, debt can lead to extra stress on that person, which can result in higher blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and other serious health issues.

It is for this reason that experts recommend consumers rid themselves of their debt load as much as possible, whether this be through payment plans with the creditors, debt consolidation or filing for bankruptcy.

When it comes to filing bankruptcy, secured debt is handled differently than unsecured debt. If you are filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, unsecured debt normally ends up being discharged at the end of the case, while secured debt can stay with the asset. If you are struggling to pay unsecured debt, such as credit cards or medical bills, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case may be a viable option for dealing with the debt. If you are struggling to pay for both secured and unsecured debt, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case may be a good option to allow you to continue paying on your mortgage and stay in your home while discharging unsecured debt at the end of the payment period. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can evaluate your financial situation, after looking at the different types of debt you are carrying to determine which plan is best for you.

Please click here to read more.

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.

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.

Credit Card Debt

Three Credit Card Mistakes To Avoid

A credit card can be a useful tool when it comes to improving a consumer’s credit score or financing large purchases. However, when credit card spending gets out of hand, it can be easy for that balance to grow out of control. The following tips can be helpful for consumers using credit cards to pay for daily expenses.

Avoid Maxing Out Credit Cards

Most credit cards come with a maximum spending limit, and while it can be tempting to rely on that figure when making credit card purchases, it is important that consumers avoid reaching that maximum amount. One reason for avoiding this is a maxed-out credit card can reflect negatively on a consumer’s credit score. If a consumer uses more than 30 percent of his or her available credit, his or her credit score will be reduced. This reduction occurs because credit utilization ratios are considered by credit reporting agencies when calculating a person’s credit score. Many credit cards also tack on fees to the person’s balance if he or she goes over the card’s limit.

Consumer Bankruptcy

Post-COVID Debt Continues to Grow as Bankruptcy Filings Fall in 2021

Financial analysts had predicted a bankruptcy surge following the COVID-19 pandemic. Courts were closed for the majority of 2020, but as they began to reopen, it was believed that a massive wave of bankruptcy filings would follow. Oddly enough, that surge never came, and the number of consumer bankruptcy filings continue to drop.

According to figures from the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), 181,000 bankruptcy cases were filed in the U.S. by May 2021, which is 29 percent lower than the number of cases filed by that time in 2020. As many people were forced out of jobs or laid off with businesses temporarily or even permanently closing, consumers are continuing to rely on credit cards to cover expenses.

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.

student loan debt, Student Loans

Former ITT Tech Students Receive Debt Relief from Biden Administration

The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday that 18,000 former ITT Technical Institute students who were found to be defrauded by the shuttered for-profit university will have their federal student loans cancelled in full. This move is a step in the right direction. The for-profit school closed permanently in 2016, leaving tens of thousands of students with massive student loan debt, and no degree.  

More than 30,000 former students petitioned the Department of Education to cancel their debt under the “borrower defense to repayment law.” However, even after being defrauded by ITT Tech, their claims were denied by officials under the Trump administration.  

Credit Card Debt

Credit Card Debt Drops a Staggering $56.5 Billion in First Quarter of 2021

Credit card balances saw a record reduction during the first quarter of 2021, after a previous record-setting reduction year was seen in 2020.  According to a study published by the personal-finance website WalletHub, American consumers paid off $56.5 billion in credit card debt during the first quarter of 2021. 

WalletHub reported that American consumers paid off $82.1 billion in credit card debt in 2020, which is a significant accomplishment considering the challenges many people faced last year. However, this decrease in credit card balances does not necessarily mean that the credit card debt crisis has been solved. There is still a collectively $900 billion in outstanding credit card debt. The average household carries a balance of $7,519, and these figures are expected to rise. In fact, WalletHub is projecting consumers will add $60 billion to the nation’s total credit card balances.  

The quarter one decrease in credit card debt was 51 percent larger than the average credit balance paydown since the Great Recession.   

Certain U.S. cities did better than others in paying down credit card balances. Pembroke Pines, Florida, ranked number five on WalletHub’s list with an average household credit card debt of $16,549 and a total credit card debt of $948,650,144. Pembroke Pines citizens paid a total of $64,124,649 of this credit card debt with an average household balance paydown of $1,119.  

Fort Lauderdale came in 24th on the list of cities that did well in paying down their credit card balances. The average Fort Lauderdale household carried $14,400 in credit card debt with a total debt in the amount of $1,073,761,245. Of this amount, Fort Lauderdale residents paid down $72,581,618.  

Financial analysts believe that this data shows that U.S. consumers are in good financial shape in 2021. However, they do anticipate a $60 billion national increase by the end of the fourth quarter of 2021, considering the fact that COVID stimulus packages and additional unemployment benefits will phase out this year.  

As bankruptcy attorneys, we see credit card debt as one of the most common problems facing those with serious financial challenges.  It is not surprising with the high interest rates, unreasonable fees, harassing debt collection calls, penalties and never-ending minimum payments that do not even make a dent in your actual debt.

Filing for bankruptcy is a viable option for those struggling with insurmountable credit card debt. 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.   

 

Credit Card Debt

Which Debts Should You Pay First After Paying Off Your Credit Cards?

Credit card debt is not the only type of consumer debt people struggle with. Once this debt is paid off in full, it helps to have a plan on which debts to tackle next.

According to data from the Federal Reserve and TransUnion, American consumers paid off a total of $82.9 billion in credit card debt in 2020. Credit card balances continued to drop by $49 billion in the first quarter of 2021, which is the second-largest quarterly balance decline seen since 1999. Despite this fact, more than 20 million American consumers have their student loan debts in forbearance.  

For the most part, financial advisors recommend that consumers pay down any debts they have that carry the highest interest rates, which is why credit cards are usually the first focus. With stimulus programs still in place, providing extra income to consumers temporarily, many financial advisors argue a different theory should be followed. 

Instead of focusing on the debt with the highest interest rate, consumers should look at all their debts and consider other options, such as refinancing other debt sources to lower their interest rates or modify payments. Refinancing could be a possibility for unsecured personal loans, as well as for mortgage debt.  With lower interest rates, consumers are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to save money and lower monthly payments, making it easier to pay off debts in full. 

Once credit card debt is paid off, many financial advisors recommend that consumers focus next on paying off their car loans. A car loses its value significantly as soon as it is driven, which is why so many consumers find themselves owing more on the car loan than the vehicle is worth. The interest rates of car loans tend to be moderate to high, although not always as high as credit card debt, depending on the consumer. Many times, it is advisable to either sell the car and use the proceeds to pay off what is owed on the loan or to refinance the loan.   

Once personal loans, credit card debt, and car loans are paid off by the consumer, it may then be advisable to pay off outstanding federal student loans. Since payments and interest is paused on federal student loans until September 30, 2021. During this time, any payment will go towards principal and not interest rate. Paying down this debt will only help improve the consumer’s credit score. 

Please click here to read more.  

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.   

Medical Debt

COVID-19 Pandemic Leads to Medical Debt Crisis

Medical debt is a financial stressor for many Americans, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now with the pandemic well into its second year, countless Americans are becoming overwhelmed with medical bills with no end in sight. 

Scientists are studying the long-term effects of COVID-19 on those who contract the virus. Many of them have suffered through several hospital stays, multiple treatments, and several referrals to various specialists. Each of these events, of course, comes with its own set of medical bills. 

According to Credit Karma, medical debt spiked 6.5 percent since the pandemic first hit at the start of 2020, increasing by approximately $2.8 billion. The number of individuals with past due medical debt increased by nine percent during this time, jumping from 19.6 million to 21.4 million.   

Another medical debt survey conducted by Lending Tree found that 60 percent of Americans polled carried some level of medical debt. Fifty-three percent (53%) of them saying that this debt was more than $5,000. Of those surveyed, 72 percent surveyed said that their medical debt has kept them from purchasing a home or having a child in the near future.    

Many consumers have felt forced to rely on credit to pay off their outstanding medical debts caused by a COVID diagnosis. However, paying these debts via credit card only delays payment of what is owed.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit consumers and businesses hard. According to a study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, the Employee Benefit Research Institute, and the W.E. Upton Institute, 7.7 million American workers lost their employee-sponsored health insurance benefits by June 2020, affecting not just the 7.7 million workers but also their 6.9 million dependents. Due to the loss of this insurance coverage, overall cost of medical care has skyrocketed. On top of losing that health insurance coverage, many Americans also lost their job and thus their income source, making paying these high costs nearly impossible.  

Congress passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to offset these high medical costs. The bill’s protections provide a short-term solution for those struggling with medical debt. Democratic lawmakers are pushing heavily towards expanding health care and addressing the costs of medical treatment. Some of these efforts have been to reduce the negative effects medical debt has on a person’s credit score. 

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Those who have experienced illness or injury and found themselves overwhelmed with medical debt should contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney. In bankruptcy, medical bills are considered general unsecured debts just like credit cards. This means that medical bills do not receive priority treatment and can easily be discharged in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws were created to help people resolve overwhelming debt and gain a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy attorney 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, P.A. 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, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.