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Is There Really a Need for Bankruptcy Education and Counseling?

 

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According to recent statistics, Americans filed 936,795 bankruptcies in 2014. Though these are shocking numbers, there’s no denying that it’s been a hard financial decade for many Americans; and many families are just starting to recover.

In many cases, people don’t expect to learn anything from the bankruptcy process. They think you just declare bankruptcy and some governing body says yes or no based on the information you’ve provided, and that’s it. However, not only is the bankruptcy process more complicated than this, you must also complete credit counseling and take bankruptcy education courses to help you understand how you arrived at your bankruptcy in the first place.

 

Lawmakers designed these courses to:

  1. Truly assess your financial situation,
  2. Help you make better financial choices in the future, and
  3. Help you genuinely understand credit

Though many people may feel an aversion to finance, most Americans would benefit from a required financial education course in high school and/or college; before entering the working world. Bankruptcy courses provide the much needed guidance that most Americans would likely admit to never getting otherwise.

What to Expect

If you are considering bankruptcy, the first step would be to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. While an attorney is not required to file for bankruptcy, most experts recommend working with one (even for simple Chapter 7 bankruptcies), just to ensure that all of the necessary legal paperwork is completed in a timely matter and to guide you through the process.

Within 180 days of filing, you have to complete a Credit Counseling Course. This course is really a review of your finances. An expert will help you go through your finances and expense to debt ratio, to decide if you have any other alternatives to bankruptcy, like debt consolidation. Even if your credit counselor recommends a repayment program, you don’t have to follow his/her advice. You do, however, have to present a Certificate of Completion to the judge, or else your case can be dismissed.

Before your case closes, you have to take a Debtor Education Course. You need to show the judge a Certificate of Completion for this course as well. If you’ve filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have to complete the course before making your last plan payment. If you’ve filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have to complete the course within 60 days of your 341 Hearing. This course helps you:

  • Learn to use credit wisely in the future,
  • Manage and budget money,
  • Make sound financial decisions, and
  • Truly enjoy your bankruptcy as a relief from financial distress, (by not creating more financial distress)

Contact us to learn more about our affordable, convenient and government approved bankruptcy courses! 

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Four Things You Can Do To Raise Your FICO Score

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Have you just exited bankruptcy and want to prepare for some big life changes such as buying a house or new car? You’ll want to first improve your FICO score. FICO is the score used by lenders to help them determine if you’re a good credit risk. While standards vary by lender, a FICO score above 640 should get you a pretty decent loan. But a little improvement never hurt anything. Below are a few things you should do to improve your FICO score:

1. Use your credit cards. It’s understandable that you want to be frugal after bankruptcy, but having an inactive credit card on your credit report can actually bring down your FICO score. To avoid problems, try to use your card at least once every few months, but pay it off immediately.

2. Get more credit. If you have a short credit history with very little credit line variety, make sure you get at least one type of various credit lines. For example, having both a credit card and installment loan is a good way to improve your FICO score and show lenders that you can manage different types of debt.

3. Don’t keep your credit cards at the limit. If you’re keeping a balance on your credit card try to keep it at no more than 50% of your available credit. Lenders will shy away from anyone who is maxing out their credit line. That screams credit risk.

4. Don’t become a credit hound. While exiting bankruptcy is an exciting time to rebuild your finances, chasing after too many credit lines can drag down your FICO score. Choose a small number of credit applications to fill out so that you don’t appear desperate for credit.

If you want to make the most of your post-bankruptcy life, create a strategy to improve your FICO score.

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Bankruptcy Attorneys: We want your feedback! FREE eBook Available!

Here at Affordable Bankruptcy Courses, we are working on delivering the best level of customer service to each and every one of you bankruptcy attorneys. When considering filing, the last thing your clients want is added stress to an already stressful ordeal. So when taking the Credit Counseling and Debtor Education courses required to begin the process of discharging their debts, they want the best. So do you; you want for the best for your clients.

So how can we be the best? Let us know. We want your feedback. And to each and every one of you leaving feedback in the comment section below, we will send you a FREE, exclusive Affordable Bankruptcy Courses eBook – full of valuable, informative content to help you and your clients through your bankruptcy.

Think bankruptcy courses, think Affordable.

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Cycle Your Clients Through Bankruptcy

bankruptcy-cycleAs a competent and experienced attorney in the industry, you know all too well that bankruptcy is an interesting concept – lasting an indeterminate amount of time based on each individual case and their variants. Sometimes it sneaks up on people without them realizing it; other times they feel themselves standing frozen in its headlights as it moves towards them in slow motion, clear for all to see. Yet despite these differences, every bankruptcy filer experiences the same emotions: fear, panic, stress, anger, sadness, and then…relief.

Yes, the cycle of bankruptcy is all too common. To the bankruptcy attorneys out there, paying particular attention to this could put you one step ahead of your competitors. Being aware of the emotions your clients are experiencing enables you to most effectively cater to their needs. This makes happy customers, which means a good reputation for your bankruptcy law firm, leading to a successful business = smiles all round!

So, let’s get cycling!

Step 1: Fear“What am I going to do? I can’t file for bankruptcy; everyone will think I am a failure and it’s going to be so stressful, it’s going to be on my record forever and stop me from ever moving forward. Everyone will look at me differently.” The regular readers of this blog will know our sentiments on this: a bankruptcy is not a failure! It also does not define your successes in the future. Many rich and famous celebrities have even filed for bankruptcy, and went on to experience great success after their filing. Remind them that bankruptcy is not the end; it is the beginning of their new stress-free financial future.

Step 2: Panic“I am struggling; I have NO choice but to file. This is really happening to me! What am I going to do?!” We wrote several posts on authors to inspire your clients through bankruptcy, featuring Roald Dahl, George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway, A. A. Milne, Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickinson, Jane Austen and Stephen King. These posts were written with your clients in mind, to ease the panic involved in the bankruptcy process and the discharging of their debts. Advise them to take a look, and see if they are put at easy by any of the sentiments mentioned in our writing.

Step 3: Stress“How am I going to get through this? There is so much to think about and prepare, I don’t know how I can manage all of this on my own.” Now is a great time to let your clients know that they can do this. Inform them that they have already taken the most important step in the right direction, and that their bravery has not gone unnoticed. Remind them that they are not alone, and you are there to help guide them through every step of the bankruptcy process.

Step 4: Anger– “I can’t believe I got myself into this mess, I’m so angry at myself.” Dear bankruptcy filer…despite feeling overwhelmed at this point, all is not lost. Remind them that, and emphasize that they should never regret anything they once did, because it felt right at the time. Concentrating on their regrets and being angry with themselves is only wasted energy, and they need to be made aware of this. It is time to look forward and think about the changes they want to make, going forward.

Step 5: Sadness“I’ve never felt so low; this is really bringing me down.” It can be tempting for clients to partake in a moment of self-pity after being bitten by the bankruptcy bug; and it is up to you to help pull them out of it. Remind them of the importance of taking care of themselves, and to not let their emotions take over at this point.

Step 6: Relief“It’s over. I did it. Thank goodness.” Prepare for tears of relief, and congratulate them on their strength. Perhaps recommend they send a letter to their former self – such a method of self-recognition is great for stress relief, and is a reminder of how strong they proved themselves to be, in proactively trying to right their financial wrongs during such a difficult time. And as the whole process is over, perhaps offer them some advice on budgeting and how to repair and rebuild after filing.

Of course, taking individual differences into account, there will be many cases where your clients experience these emotions in different orders, often repeatedly and for varying durations of time. But so long as you are equipped with the knowledge of the how’s and why’s when dealing with them, you are still giving yourself the best possible chance to succeed. Remember our blog post on the superheroes of bankruptcy? That’s you! You can further enhance your superhuman powers by giving your clients a head-start in the race against bankruptcy – refer them to an EOUST-approved provider of Credit Counseling and Debtor Education, to enable them to get on the right path to discharging their debts.

That way, they can get through their financial distress with minimal upset – and you can hang your bankruptcy attorney superhero cape up at night with satisfaction, knowing you did the best job you possibly could in helping your clients through an incredibly trying time in their lives.

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Notes For Bankruptcy Attorneys: What Did Disney Do Right?

disney-bankruptcyIn an industry as busy as bankruptcy, it is easy to look at other attorneys and wonder the reasons behind their success. You are doing everything right, have put it into practice and are not seeing the results you want? Why?

When writing this post, we thought it would be best to use a highly successful brand to illustrate our points. We chose Disney – a fitting choice, given that Walt Disney himself actually filed for bankruptcy in 1923 before becoming a household name. And because, let’s face it, have you ever seen an unhappy face in a Disney theme park?

The answer to the above question is, of course, “No! I have never seen an unhappy face in a Disney theme park!” They make people happy. Same goes for a Disney store. Or when you are sitting watching a Disney film. They have this magical way of mesmerizing each and every viewer, regardless of age.Despite having some tragic storylines (we warn you – be equipped with tissues when you sit down to watch Bambi or Fox & The Hound), the happy-go-lucky attitude injected into each and every Disney masterpiece has yet to be matched.

This leads onto our next point.Despite having hundreds of thousands of products; that is not all Disney created. He created an amazing, memorable experience. Now this may seem a little unusual when thinking of how to implement this into the running of a bankruptcy law firm, but just think. People rarely remember what was said and what was done, but they never forget how something made them feel.Putting more emphasis on making the client’s experience as stress-free as possible, will more likely help them to remember their time with you in a good light. What could you do to make their bankruptcy filing easier? How about directing them to an EOUST-approved, affordable and convenient Credit Counseling and Debtor Education provider?

Disney films offer an escape from reality. As already mentioned, Disney does not just cater to children. Both adults and children can enjoy the same film for varying reasons, and draw differing conclusions from them. It successfully caters to adults, and not just because their quirky cartoons are so endearing. Disney movies offer an escape from the harsh reality of day to day life. They allow adults to enjoy the silliness of animation while receiving the meaningful messages embedded intricately within each storyline.

So can you offer your clients that same escape from reality, when they come to visit you? Can you make the smile, and help them to forget their financial woes for just a few hours? Anything of this nature can be a true blessing during such a difficult time, and one they will not likely forget. Go the extra mile with your clients, and your efforts will be rewarded.

Walt Disney’s legacy continues, even after his death. His parks are still ranked number one in the US. Isn’t that incredible? Imagine that, stamping your name on something indefinitely. You too can achieve such success with your bankruptcy practice by making the same crucial, strategic decision that Disney made: focus entirely on your consumers. 🙂 Of course you may already be thinking along these lines, in which case, you are on the right path to success!

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Bankruptcy, Spending & Cheeseburgers: Always in Moderation!

bankruptcy-attorneyCalling all bankruptcy attorneys!

If you had to think of a successful, famous fast food chain, what would immediately spring to mind? Burger King, KFC, Wendy’s, Denny’s, McDonalds? The one we hear most commonly is the latter. Now the world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, they have branches in 119 countries across the world, serving 68 million customers a day. That is more than the entire population of California and Texas combined! They have become the go-to place for the consumers in their target market – have you wondered how you can become the McDonalds of Bankruptcy Attorneys? Through their strategic decision making, they have secured themselves a very enviable position in the fast food industry.

But how? Fast food is so bad for you!

True. There is a reason we nickname it ‘junk food’. But what about what is good for you? The occasional indulgence is fine, but remember: everything in moderation. Is any fast food restaurant a place you can visit regularly in good conscience? Probably not. There was even an infamous documentary titled Supersize Me about a man testing the effects of McDonald’s food on your health if you consume it for every meal, for 30 days. A little extreme, but the results were mind-blowing.

Put yourself in your client’s shoes for a moment. By no means are we suggesting you boycott McDonalds, because we believe in living a life of balance. We are encouraging you to think of spending money as a ‘metaphorical cheeseburger’. Do it in moderation! Sometimes you might want extra fries, other times you may be content with a smaller portion. The point we are trying to make, is even if during the moment of making purchase after purchase you feel a buzz of excitement, remember the feeling you get after you have overindulged: guilt, frustration, panic. It is the same when you overeat on fast food…trust us, we have all been there!

How do you feel every time you enter a chain of McDonalds? Do you feel respected, like your needs were catered to? They have made radical changes to their marketing campaigns to focus on the needs and wants of their more health conscious consumers, yet there is still the odd high profile case of certain individuals suing McDonalds. Of course some of these stories are ridiculous (did you hear about the man who sued $1.5 million due to experiencing ‘mental anguish’ after only being given one napkin?) but the bottom line is: consumers are the core of your business; the reason for why it is profitable and even in business in the first place. Remember their preferences, needs, wants and desires – and cater to them. This is what McDonalds have successfully mastered. They know that everyone is different, and provide something for everyone – all dietary preferences are catered for. Even vegans and vegetarians can eat there. They also know that some people prefer ‘no frills service, so don’t bombard them with extras they have not asked for.

And this is exactly what we offer! Affordable Bankruptcy Courses gives you exactly that. If you are looking to send your clients to take convenient, affordable, EOUST-approved Credit Counseling and Debtor Education, then look no further. Think Affordable Bankruptcy Courses. Let us be the relish on your clients’ cheeseburgers 😉

Cheesy, but isn’t that how you like your burgers?

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Bankruptcy Attorneys: What Tools Are You Using to Market Your Law Firm?

bankruptcy-attorney-marketingWhen marketing our affordable and convenient online bankruptcy courses, we use a variety of online platforms to reach as many people as we can. The Affordable Bankruptcy Courses products are there to serve a purpose – to help those who are struggling financially – so it is important to us that we reach the largest number of people we can fitting these criteria. And to do this, we rely heavily on online tools and networks. To name a few:

Our blog – Have we mentioned how much we love blogging? Enough said.

Facebook – Still in its infancy, we are working on improving our page. But this is a great tool available to us, given that there are 1.23 billion active monthly users. That makes for a lot of potential consumers hidden in the pages of this social network alone!

Twitter – A great way for us to stay in touch with bankruptcy filers and attorneys alike, and to learn about trends and developments in the bankruptcy industry today. 46% of twitter users check their page on a daily basis, so it is important to share valuable, unique content as regularly as you can.

Email Marketing We make use of several email marketing platforms – MailChimp and Constant Contact to name a couple – for all our B2B and B2C email content. This includes newsletters, promotional content and specific reminders. These programs provide useful feedback in the form of email statistics (want to see who opens your emails, and who ignores them?) and reviews of our current campaigns to determine their overall effectiveness.

Paid advertising – They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but not as far as marketing is concerned! You need to be present and stand out from your competitors. We are always striving to improve our Google search ranking, and besides posting regular and relevant content, the best way to achieve this is through implementing ads to come up when consumers type particular phrases and keywords into the Google search engine. You can choose text ads, display ads, and – just so they don’t forget you – you can even have your ads  follow potential consumers around on certain sites after they visit you, for a specific amount of time.

These are just a few ways through which we communicate with our target market, but already you can see the benefits of implementing such techniques. If not…

Why should I use online marketing channels; are they even effective?

In short, YES! We cannot speak highly enough of the online marketing capabilities available to your bankruptcy practice. For example, in implementing social media, there is an abundance of benefits available to you.Not only are you able to digitally showcase your brand and increase exposure and awareness of your bankruptcy law firm, but you are giving yourself the opportunity to boost your traffic and search engine ranking, and enhance the general trustworthiness of your brand. Wow!

Why is this?

When a consumer is able to interact with their brand online either by a tweet, Facebook message, or by reading their blog, the brand has become more personal to them. A relationship is formed. And as we know, relationships are built solidly on trust. And which do you think is most likely to result in a sale; the time a consumer finds you accidentally, or when they spend time on your social media sites and respond to your blog content? Interacting with potential consumers is a sure fire way to gain intrigue. 81% of U.S. consumers trust the advice and information they find in online blogs, and 61% have gone as far as making a purchase as a result of it. By blogging every day, you can increase your traffic fivefold. In short, it is a very influential tool!

Not convinced? Give it a go and let us know how it works for your bankruptcy law firm. Social networking is free, so there will be no expense spared. And for those of you already actively marketing online, what have been your successes with digital marketing platforms? Let us know in the comments section below!

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