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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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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 Rebirth of Detroit? Facts & Figures From The Largest Municipal Bankruptcy In US History

detroit-bankruptcyOn July 18, 2013, US history was made. Detroit, the largest city in the State of Michigan, filed for bankruptcy after failing to maintain control on its estimated $18-20 billion of crippling debt. This figure made the now infamous Detroit bankruptcy the largest municipal filing in U.S. history. Additionally, no other U.S city with a population even half as large as Detroit’s 714,000 has ever had to file – the closest was the 2012 bankruptcy filing of Stockton, California, boasting a population of little over 290,000.

It is hard to believe that over a year has passed since that announcement was made. Time flies.

Towards the end, things were getting rough in Detroit – with a reported 5,000 cases of arson and over 80,000 homes destroyed. Morale was low among the residents, and with unemployment up over 18%, revenue down 40%, and three times the number of retirees claiming benefits over the number of employed workers, how could you blame them? The facts and figures surrounding the Detroit bankruptcy filing really are quite alarming.

A year may have passed since the city filed, but Detroit was experiencing a decline in the years leading up to its end. For example, it had 11,000-12,000 fires every year in the decade prior to bankruptcy. Industry was also on the decline – in the last 60 years alone, the number of manufacturing jobs in Detroit dropped from 296,000 to just 27,000, – that is a 91% decline. The city’s state of affairs became a sorry sight at the end, particularly when comparing it to what it once was: a thriving US community with the highest per-capita income in 1960. But nowadays, things are very different. Today there are around 78,000 abandoned homes in Detroit, many of which can be bought for less than $500. That’s less than what you would pay for a new computer.

However, this is not expected to last. It is hoped that by September 2014, Detroit will be out of the bankruptcy court. Plans are in motion to form an optimistic future for the city and its residents: natives are being recruited back into the city, as well as $816 million being used to limit pension cutes and protect the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) from a fire sale. Since the filing in 2013, 50,000 streetlights have been replaced, homicides are down 18%, trash collection has become privatized and robberies are down 25%.All of these initiatives are steps in the right direction, towards the rebirth of Detroit as the thriving economy it once was.

This just goes to show that no matter how drastic your financial situation is, or how publicized it becomes, the situation is not permanent. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you need to know that there is always a way back to full recovery, and you can always get back on the road towards a fresher financial future. There are many EOUST-approved providers of the required Credit Counseling and Debtor Education, to help you on your way to having your debts discharged. No matter what your situation, by being proactive about your financial future, you too can start fresh with a tighter grip on your finances and a spring in your step!

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A Cartoon Bankruptcy?

bankruptcy-cartoonJust because animated characters are confined to the limitations of the television screen, it doesn’t make their presence any less real. As one of the hundreds of millions of avid television viewers becoming interested – and then consequentially hooked – on the cartoons gracing our screens on a daily basis, I can honestly say I find a lot of the characters around today very relatable.

Take Homer Simpson. He is far from the brightest crayon in the box, but his core values remain constant. His heart is in the right place. Similar to that of Peter Griffin from Family Guy, his focus is on protecting his nearest and dearest, despite actually being the person putting them in situations of torment through his acts of buffoonery (anyone remember the time he barricaded his family in a bedroom upon believing Lisa’s dream about the boogeyman was real…?) Yet, we love him anyway.

And how about Felix the Cat? Developed in the silent era, this character successfully made the infamously difficult transition to sound, following the birth of Mickey Mouse in 1936. He was even selected to be the mascot for Strike Fighter Squadron 31. So why was he so popular? A playful little cat, he brought joy to audiences by embedding important values throughout his childish play. “A champion never lets anything stand in his way,” he would say while getting up to his countless acts of mischief.

So what is standing in your way? You find yourself sinking financially, considering the need to file for bankruptcy…what is stopping you?

Perhaps it is fear of the unknown? Many cartoon characters display acts of remarkable strength, both physically and mentally.  Admitting you are struggling financially is not a weakness. It is a strength! And in taking that first step, you are one step closer to that ‘unknown’ – a brighter financial future. Nothing scary about that! Do what is best for you, even when it seems that the world is against you. Like the cute but deadly Powerpuff Girls say in the face of adversity, “We fight crime. That’s what we do! Duh.”

Maybe it is the stigma attached to bankruptcy that is causing you concern? “What are people going to think of me if I file?”Well. The value of true friendship is that no matter what, you have a solid support network. No financial struggle is going to cost you that friendship, and your foundations are so secure that their opinions of you will not change. The tales of Winnie the Pooh were littered with this sentiment. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” he would say of his enviable friendships in the Hundred Acre Wood. When Winnie said he wasn’t feeling himself, Piglet said, “There there. I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.” No matter what you are going through, your true friends will be there for you, by your side. “I wonder what Piglet is doing,” thought Pooh. “I wish I were there to be doing it, too.” Do you have your own Piglet? Tell them your struggles. A burden shared is a burden halved.

The messages embedded within cartoon storytelling stretch far and wide. Take Snow White. She was such a lovable Disney character. Coming from humble beginnings, she proves that you too can have your happy ending, and that your present situation – whether it be financial or otherwise – is not permanent. Just be true to yourself, and you can determine your own future. Don’t want to be struggling financially anymore, and up to your knees in debt? Then you can change it! Start looking for EOUST-approved providers of Credit Counseling to get on the path to discharging your debts and living a happier, more careful life – leaving you more time to enjoy the simpler things, such as singing to woodland creatures and cleaning up after your seven messy house-mates. Hi-ho!

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Bankruptcy Attorneys: Are You Social Media Savvy?

bankruptcy-attorney-social-mediaSocial Media. Are you using it? Do you have your own social media dream team? 57% of companies do, and dedicate an entire team of people to propel their social media marketing initiatives to success. We recently wrote a post on the importance of using social media for your bankruptcy practice, but upon reflection, we realized it may not be instantly obvious how to master the beast without offering some sense of direction. So this article was born.

You may think social media itself is the trend to take note of. But did you know; there are many trends emerging from within social media? Have you heard of social listening?

We aren’t being smart here; social listening is actually a trend. In 2013, 60% of organizations were implementing this strategy, offering them the chance to interact directly with their potential consumers. You want to engage with them, build relationships and truly understand what it is that they want from you. In fulfilling their expectations, bang– you have a new customer.

It is always important to consider your target market, as detailed in our previous post on different buyer personas. Yet through the use of social media, you are opening up your business to a whole new world of possibilities. You might discover a previously unexplored area of the market as potential consumers, brought to your attention through their interactions and responses to your products on social media.

You can increase the likelihood of such interactions through the integration of email and social media marketing. Further incentivize people to take note of your call to action through social sharing. Not only are you able to expand the reach of your emails by reaching out to potential new subscribers on social media, but you are also allowing yourself more and more opportunities to – yet again – connect with your target audience. It is all about making that connection, and streamlining multiple marketing methods in this way only enhances the likelihood of that happening.

Following on from this, you can even interlink your various social media accounts when posting, to extend the reach of your content. There are even apps available to help you manage this. If you feel you lack the skills to implement social media for your bankruptcy practice then look no further. The internet is full of valuable resources to help kick-start your journey into the world of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…the list is endless. Furthermore, you can never know everything. There are always new concepts to learn – even for the more experienced social media users – and trends are always changing. For example: are you hashtag savvy? Hashtags were all the rage when Twitter started to take the world by storm, but did you know you can now use them on Facebook too? There is a hashtag code of ethics to take into consideration too – we are talking serious business here! Relate your content to trending topics, and never overload your posts with more than 2 hashtags.

Are you using Google+? If not then, sign up. Become one of the 300 million people visiting G+ every month. A Google+ Business Page is easy to set up, and as it automatically combines search and social media, your search ranking is going to get a boost without much extra effort on your part. There is talk of G+ developing advertising capabilities on their platform, following on from the successes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn implementing the same strategy. So not only can you use social media as a platform for advertising through content sharing, but also through paid ads. We really can’t think of any reason for you to not use social media for your bankruptcy practice. Can you?

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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 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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