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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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9 Things You Need to Know About the Debtor Education Course

debtor education course questionsDuring bankruptcy, you may be experiencing a range of emotions—everything from fear to confusion. Not to fret. We’ve compiled a list of the 9 most commonly asked questions (and what you need to know) when it comes to getting your debts discharged through bankruptcy.

One of the final steps during the bankruptcy process is completing the Debtor Education Course. What’s that? Keep reading…

In compliance with the Bankruptcy Code, all bankruptcy petitioners are required to complete a Debtor Education Course, after filing for bankruptcy but before discharge. The bankruptcy petitioner is also required to have already completed Credit Counseling, which must be done prior to filing for bankruptcy.

1. Who needs to take a Debtor Education Course?

If you are filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, completion of the Debtor Education Course is required by law.

2. I already completed the Credit Counseling. Why do I need to take the Debtor Education Course, too?

The Credit Counseling assesses your current financial situation to help determine if bankruptcy is the best option. On the other hand, the Debtor Education Course helps prepare you for the future with financial planning and budgeting tips to help you better manage your finances.

3. Is the Debtor Education Course the same as Financial Management?

Yes. Although it is most commonly referred to as Debtor Education, you may also hear Financial Management Course, Pre-Discharge Bankruptcy Course, Post-Filing Course, or some other variation. They are all the same and must be completed after filing for bankruptcy but before debts can be discharged.

4. Is there a time requirement?

Yes, a minimum of 2 hours must be spent within the course as required by law.

5. Who offers the Debtor Education Course?

This course can be completed online or by phone with an EOUST-approved provider.

6. When do I need to complete this course?

For a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must complete the course within 60 days of your meeting of creditors (also known as a 341 meeting). For a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must complete it before making your final payment or before filing a motion requesting a discharge based on hardship.

7. Can I take the Debtor Education Course when I take the Credit Counseling?

No. These cannot be completed at the same time. As required by law, you must complete the Credit Counseling before filing and the Debtor Education after filing—refer to the next question for exactly when.

8. Can my spouse and I take the course together?

Yes. You can both take the course together and separate certificates of completion will be issued for both of you. Some providers offer the courses at no additional charge for joint filers.

9. How do I get the certificates of completion?

The provider will email your bankruptcy certificate(s) to you and/or your attorney.

Feel a little better now? The good news is that if you’re reading this, chances are bankruptcy is almost behind you. Don’t delay your fresh start and register for the Debtor Education Course now for only $19. Put your bankruptcy in the past and get ready for a clean slate when it comes to your financial future!

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As Easy As ABC…Affordable Bankruptcy Courses!

It has been a long week, and what better way to wind down than with a light-hearted anagram?

Approved provider of Credit Counseling
Financial freedom 
Fresh start for your finances
Offering you… 
Relief from debt
Debtor Education Course – found here
An opportunity for you to have your debts discharged
Bankruptcy courses – both pre and post filing
Learn new skills – budgeting, financial rebuilding
EOUST-approved

Think bankruptcy courses, think Affordable. Thank you to all our dedicated readers who have been reading our posts thus far.

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The Bankruptcy Video Game: Would You Buy It?

bankruptcy-gameAre you, or have you ever been, an avid video gamer? Could you easily watch the hours fly by as you engage with quirky characters from virtual realms, defending fictitious countries against demons and dragons? I always remember such a sense of satisfaction whenever your weapon of choice would completely destroy the enemy. Bankruptcy demons, watch out.

One of the main purposes of a video game – despite being a fantastic way to procrastinate during exam season – is the offering of an escape from reality. It allows us to forget our stresses and strains for a short time – or a long one, depending on how soon those impending exams are. As your typical ‘angry-at-the-world’ teenager, I also took great comfort in the fact that putting my metaphorical gaming hat on and disappearing into an interactive dimension made it a lot easier to block out the people around me.

Regardless of who you are, people’s unwarranted contributions and opinions can still grate. No matter what you are struggling with, people will claim to understand your situation even better than you do yourself. In going through bankruptcy, there will be an abundance of people offering their points of view on the subject, and more often than not it will be from those who have never truly contemplated the true stresses and strains associated with such a financial struggle.

For example.

“It could be worse.”

Don’t you just hate that expression? It is almost as bad as, “We’ve all been there” – but not quite. There you are, allowing yourself a short amount of time to wallow in some self pity, and someone comes along and takes your right to complain straight out of your hands. “It could be worse,” they say, “Imagine if X, Y, Z…” They then proceed to rattle off a list of – admittedly awful – circumstances that could worsen your predicament quite significantly. But sometimes during periods of struggle and distress, all we need is an empathetic ear.

We want to complain that we are struggling. We want to dwell on the fact that the process of having our debts discharged is a tedious and laborious one. It is stressful. Not the end of the world, admittedly, but stressful nonetheless.

In short, we want a pick-me-up. It is nice to be reminded that in filing for bankruptcy, you are not defining who you are as a human being. It does not constitute your character or genetic makeup. It is not a determinant of your future successes. Consider it one of life’s inconveniences that you are currently suffering through, and so long as you are being proactive in rectifying the financial wrongs, you are allowed to let yourself experience whatever emotions come to hand.

At Affordable Bankruptcy Courses, we are experienced in the bankruptcy arena and the wide emotional spectrum that comes with it. Fear, anger, sadness…we’ve seen it all. We offer people their much-needed escape from reality during this time, in helping them towards the discharging of their debts. There are no demons and dragons in our world, just the Credit Counseling and Debtor Education needed to get you on the road to financial success.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you are welcome to play our video gameentirely metaphorical, but unbeatable in terms of the rewards you reap from playing. That way you can proactively tackle your financial struggles while always looking forward. And if you feel like taking a moment to yourself, that is entirely warranted. Allow it.

In short: even though it is never a good thing to dwell in negativity, sometimes we just need to let it out of our system. And that is ok, so long as it is sporadic. After a short amount of wallowing, it is time to pick yourself up and remind yourself of the positives.

Like ice cream. No matter how bad things get, Ben & Jerry will always be there for you.

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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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Authors To Inspire You Through Bankruptcy: Jane Austen

jane-austenArguably one of the most widely read writers in English literature, Jane Austen has become almost iconic for her works of romantic fiction. She is the genius behind ‘Sense & Sensibility’,‘Pride & Prejudice’ and ‘Emma’, and, even to this day, her novels are a key component of English literature syllabuses across the world – and now too, on the Affordable Bankruptcy Courses blog ;).

Have you read Pride & Prejudice? If not, then we would definitely recommend it. It is a classic; a love story centered on societal differences and how true love always prevails. In her novel, Austen teaches us the valuable difference between vanity and pride – “Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us” – and the importance of knowing this distinction. During a time as difficult as filing for bankruptcy, there is no scope to waste energy worrying how others perceive us, even though the temptation to do so may be overwhelming. At the end of the day, as long as you survive the experience and recover from it – keeping your pride– then what does it matter what other people think? Use bankruptcy as your opportunity for growth. If the opinions of others really are important to you, then twist things around. Show people how you can bounce back when life throws obstacles your way.

 Austen wisely wrote, “Angry people are not always wise.” In saying this, she means that a decision made in the heat of anger is rarely the right one. Do not act rashly, in the heat of the moment. Perhaps it was impulsive purchasing behavior that caused your financial struggles in the first place – or perhaps not? Either way, you are bound to feel anger and frustration as you come to terms with filing for bankruptcy, but acting based on these emotions is never a good idea. Make sensible, rational decisions when you are feeling calm. Take the first steps and sign up for the Credit Counseling and Debtor Education required for filing, and watch your life change for the better.

“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control.” When you are experiencing a moment of sadness, losing that bright, happy spark that all your friends and family know and love you for – stop. All is not lost. You may have ‘lost’ this particular battle with your money, but you have not lost the financial war. You still have many other endearing qualities, and self-control can be one of them. Use this experience to bounce back. Get yourself on your feet and start saving, budgeting, and rebuilding for your future.

In doing this, you are proving to yourself just how strong and resilient you can be when times are tough. “Till this moment I never knew myself.” What have you learned from the bankruptcy process? Has it shown you a side of yourself that you never previously knew existed? Sometimes it takes a life-changing experience such as bankruptcy, to teach you more about yourself, your strengths and your capabilities. And that notion alone may be that small – but bright – light at the end of your financial tunnel. Head towards it, and change your life for the better.

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If Bankruptcy Were An Object, What Would It Be?

if-bankruptcy-were-an-objectThis is an interesting concept. If you could see bankruptcy, pick it up and hold it in your hands; smell it, hear the sounds it makes…would it be as intimidating as it stands currently? And what would it be?

We are guessing it wouldn’t be an object of affection, to which you whisper terms of endearment and harbor fond feelings for. Would it be a person; perhaps the dreaded taxman or the boogeyman that used to haunt your childhood dreams? Perhaps it compares to your intense fear of flying, spiders or sharks? Would it be a target for frustration, through which you use the old ‘pinning up the face of your enemies on a dartboard’ concept to vent your anger and frustrations?

It could be deemed some – if not all – of these, but would that be entirely fair?

As we have mentioned before on the Affordable Bankruptcy Courses blog, bankruptcy is not the cause of your financial distress, it is there as a result of it. It is a form of debt relief – there as a life raft when you feel like you are drowning in debt. Taking this into consideration, it doesn’t make sense that we attach these negative connotations to bankruptcy. By no means are we saying that is it an easy process to be taken lightly; we are just encouraging you to imagine the relief you will experienceafter you have completed filing!

Similar to that feeling you get after finishing – and acing – an exam. Or when your personal trainer stops your workout and announces, “Great job! You are done for the day!” Or that feeling you get when you wake in the morning and realize it is a Saturday. That forbidden treat you allow yourself after a strict week of dieting. These are all – incredibly important 😉 – real life situations, initiating positive emotional responses. Although not easy at first, thinking of bankruptcy in this way can really ease your stresses during this difficult time. What positive feeling(s) can you get from bankruptcy; what positive associations can you make?

Relief, a clean slate, debt relief, fresh start, financial freedom, learning about new concepts such as money management and budgeting through your Debtor Education course… this is only a start. Feel free to add your contributions in the comments section below!

The point we are trying to make is; if you could hold bankruptcy in your hands; physically see and feel it…would you perceive it any differently? Think of something that stresses you out. You mull it over, and by overanalyzing the situation, the stress amplifies in your brain. The beast becomes bigger, nastier and scarier. By personifying it, that is, to “attribute human nature or character to an inanimate object,” you are starting to face up to the issue, and this is a way of conquering it. In going one step further and reconfiguring your perception and approach to bankruptcy, you are able to turn your situation around. Only you can get yourself through the dark tunnel of debt relief and out to the bright light on the other side, and bankruptcy is a great option available to help you achieve this.

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