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September 2012 Archives

Cut Your Grocery Budget

It never fails, groceries is the budget breaker when you first start doing a new budget. You always underestimate your spending on food. Here are some tips to help cut that grocery budget:

  • Look for items that are on sale or clearance. You can always freeze items that are close to expiring and eat them another day.

  • Shop at budget stores 

  • Clip coupons

  • Always eat before going shopping

  • Buy in bulk

  • Plan meals in advance

  • Think frozen, canned, or dried

  • Go generic (but watch that it really is the cheaper)

Drowning in debt? Call 254-633-2876 or email me at [email protected] to talk to experienced staff. Let my family help yours.

Former Olympic Gold Medalist Files for Bankruptcy

Rulon Gardner is filing for bankruptcy protection. His accomplishments include an Olympic gold medal in wrestling, being a contestant on The Biggest Loser (although he left the season early), and owning a health club in Logan, Utah. All of which just goes to show you that anyone can need to file for bankruptcy due to debt problems. In Gardner's case, he defaulted on a 2007 loan that he took out for an investment opportunity. The loan totaled approximately three million dollars. Gardner is disputing the debt claiming he was a victim of a fraudulent real estate deal. Although most individuals who file for bankruptcy are able to keep their assets, Gardner's assets are being auctioned off on October 27, 2012 to help pay back some of his debts. What a debtor is entitled to keep is determined by state law, but, even here in Texas where we have liberal laws to protect assets in a bankruptcy, Garner does have some extremely valuable assets for auction. He has autographed sports memorabilia including Steve Young collectibles, Nolan Ryan, and other baseball figures. Also for auction are some of his Harley motorcycles including one which is signed by Willy G who is the senior vice president of Harley Davidson. Are you struggling to pay your bills? Call 254-633-2876 today or email me at [email protected] for a FREE, no-obligation consultation to explore your options. Let my family help yours.

Foreclosed Homes Falling into Disrepair--One City Sues

As foreclosures continue to remain high, you have to wonder what is happening to the foreclosed homes after the foreclosure sale? Roughly 620,000 foreclosed homes in the United States are owned by lenders, according to Realty Trac. Approximately a fourth of those homes have been waiting for a new buyer for two years or more and around a tenth for three years or more. The longer these foreclosed homes remain vacant and waiting on buyers the greater risk the homes will fall into disrepair and hurt the property values of the surrounding neighborhoods. The City of Los Angeles has had enough. This summer LA sued U.S. Bank, the country's fifth-largest commercial bank, for failing to maintain more than 170 foreclosed properties. Last year LA filed a similar suit against Deutsche Bank. LA states that the bank owned foreclosed homes are neglected and communities are suffering as a result. Both banks have attempted to defend themselves by arguing that LA has sued the wrong parties in the lawsuits. In a foreclosure proceeding, there may be up to three different banks involved--the owner of the mortgage note, the servicer, and the trustee. U.S. Bank and Deutsche Bank both claim to be trustees and that the servicers of the notes are responsible for maintaining the properties. However, LA city attorneys counter that the trustee is responsible for ensuring the servicers maintain the foreclosed properties and set in when the foreclosed properties are not being maintained. Unfortunately this problem is not limited to LA. The National Fair Housing Alliance, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, filed complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development against U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo for failure to maintain foreclosed properties in Atlanta, Miami, Oakland, California, Washington, D.C., and other cities across the United States. The organization inspected 218 foreclosed properties owned by Wells Fargo and 177 foreclosed properties owned by U.S. Banks and found on average half have serious deficiencies with the average rising significantly in minorities communities. Are you facing foreclosure? You have options! Call 254-633-2876 today or email us at [email protected] for a FREE, no-obligation consultation with experienced staff. Let my family help yours.   Photo Credit: Jay Santiago

Common Budgeting Mistakes

It is the awful "B" word again--Budgeting. Most of us don't even want to do a budget. It is frustrating, boring, and makes you feel controlled. Even if you have tried a budget you make have failed to stick to it, so why bother. If you have tried to budget and failed or you are new to budgeting, here are some common budgeting mistakes to avoid.

Cheap Exercise

We all know we should exercise more, but joining a gym or buying a treadmill is expensive. Here are some ideas to exercise without breaking your budget. 

  • Tape daily workouts that are on TV. You will get a variety of workouts and you can do them at your convenience.

  • Look for exercise equipment at garage sales or run an ad in your local paper asking to purchase the used equipment you are looking for.

  • Rent exercise videos from your local library.

  • Ride your bike outdoors or take a walk.

  • Clean your house or plant a garden.

  • Find a free app with exercise programs

The bottom line is to have fun doing something active every day.

Bankruptcy Myth: Bankruptcy is for People who are Flat Broke

Bankruptcy is actually about regaining control over your life and assets.  As a Waco bankruptcy lawyer, I file bankruptcy for individuals and families who have paid for houses, vehicles, retirement accounts, and other items they want to protect.  Some have had rental properties and stores as a source of income.  The thing that is common among my clients is that they are overwhelmed by bills and they can no longer manage.  Maybe they were self-employed and, in today's economy, business dried up.  Others lost a job or took a pay decrease.  Some are victims of divorce.  Many have large medical bills or have been living on credit cards hoping that their situation will get better soon.  I always tell potential clients that bankruptcy is about giving you control back over your life. 

Top 10 Reasons People Don't Make and Stick to a Budget

  • It is easier to ignore your spending than try to manage it.
  • You disagree with your spouse on spending habits.
  • You have tried in the past and can't stick to a budget.
  • You're afraid.
  • You don't want to be controlled.
  • It takes too much time and energy.
  • You owe so much money that you don't know where to start.
  • It is depressing.
  • You don't know how to create one.
  • You have plenty of money left over at the end of the month, so you don't need one.
Are you considering bankruptcy? Call 254-633-2876 or email us at [email protected] for a FREE, no-obligation consultation discuss your options with experienced staff. Let my family help yours!

Beware of a New Visa and Mastercard Scam

Here is a new scam Royal Bank has reported regarding your Visa and Mastercard. The trick to this scam is that the caller appears to know all the information except one piece of information that you provide. They don't ask your card number because they already have it. The scam works like this: Person calling says - 'This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460, Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona ?' When you say 'No', the caller continues with, 'Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?' You say 'yes'. The caller continues - 'I will be starting a Fraud Investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800-VISA) and ask for Security. You will need to refer to this Control Number. The caller then gives you a 6 digit number. 'Do you need me to read it again?' Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works - The caller then says, 'I need to verify you are in possession of your card'. He'll ask you to 'turn your card over and look for some numbers'. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the last 3 are the Security Numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the last 3 numbers to him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, 'That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?' After you say no, the caller then thanks you and states, 'Don't hesitate to call back if you do', and hangs up. You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the card number. If you receive this type of call, you need to not give any information to the caller. Instead call the number of your credit card and report the situation. Are you overwhelmed by credit card debt? Call us today at 254-633-2876 or email us at [email protected] for a FREE, no-obligation consultation. Let my family help yours!

Payday Loan Use on the Rise

As the economy continues to falter, news sources are reporting that more and more families are using payday loans to survive. I consider bankruptcy attorneys in the trenches of the economy and quite frankly, as a bankruptcy attorney, I could have told you that payday loan use is on the rise. When I first started practicing bankruptcy law in Waco, Texas, I rarely saw potential clients complaining about payday loans. Over the past few months it has been a regular phenomenon. And payday loans, with their high interest rates and automatic drafts from your bank account, will break you. You end up in a terrible cycle. The cycle goes like this. The majority of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck without any real savings. They have an emergency and the credit cards are maxed. So, they get a payday loan. They plan to pay it back the first time it comes up for renewal. Howev You don't have to continue in this cycle. Explore your options with experienced, compassionate staff. Call 254-633-2876 or email me at [email protected] today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Let my family help yours!er, statistics show that approximately 1/5 of the loans are paid back in the first month. So, you renew it or take out another payday loan to pay it back. Meanwhile, the payday loans are taking their payments directly out of your bank account. You don't have enough money to pay for rent, car payments, and other bills. I see potential clients on a regular basis who are about to lose their homes because they don't have enough money to pay the mortgage after the payday loans are done with their bank drafts. Photo Credit: rinkjustice

Foreclosure Firm Fights Back Against Bankruptcy Attorney who Questioned Foreclosure Billing Practices as Too High

In Long Island a foreclosure firm, Rosicki Rosicki & Associates is fighting with bankruptcy attorney, Peter Grubea reports an ABA Journal article. In March, Grubea attacked the Rosicki firm on his website for having “unfairly high” charges and asked clients to seek him out for potential claims for money damages. Grubea has also attacked the Rosicki firm in bankruptcy court for “systematic overbilling of New York homeowners”.

UPDATE: Bank of America is suing a Nashville Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee over Mortgage Payments

Here is an update on my previous blog about how Bank of America is suing a Nashville Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee over mortgage payments. For background: in that blog, I discussed how which “Show me the Note” defense against foreclosure rarely works in Texas, a Nashville Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee, Henry “Hank” Hildebrand uses it regularly to not pay mortgages in the Tennessee Bankruptcies he oversees. Bank of America was fed up with Hank's argument and sued him.

Are Credit Card Companies Filing Erroneous Lawsuits Against Consumers?

As the economy continues to struggle, credit card companies are suing more consumers over delinquent balances. In the past few years, I have noticed an increase in the number of lawsuits filed and a decrease in the amount owed on the credit card here in my Waco bankruptcy practice. Lawsuits are starting to be filed over unpaid balances of less than $2,000.00. A recent article reports that many of these lawsuits rely on erroneous documents. The article quotes Noach Dear, a civil court judge in Brooklyn, as saying "I would say that roughly 99 percent of the credit card lawsuits are flawed and can't prove the person owes the debt." However, even with all of the problems, it doesn't appear that these lawsuits are going to stop soon. Have you been sued by a credit card? Call 254-633-2876 or email us at [email protected] today for a FREE, no-obligation consultation to explore your options with experienced staff. Let my family help yours.

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