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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 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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Bankruptcy Filers: What is your secret? What makes you human?

fresh-financial-start-bankruptcyThe other night as I was engrossed in a murder mystery series on television, I found myself struggling to keep up with the twists and turns as the plot developed. Each and every character had so many secrets; ones you would never had known existed had they not fallen to their knees and confessed to them in the final scene.

It made me think of the board game Clue. Did you ever play it? Entertainment based on the same principle, it is a murder mystery game designed to sharpen your detective skills by identifying the scene of the murder, the weapon used and the murderer themselves. Hours of fun could be had with this game, as you would tactically choose different strategies to either withhold or provide information to the other players in the game, determining the likelihood of anyone solving the crime.

This got me thinking. What information have you shared with those around you, and what do you withhold?Maintaining that element of mysteriousness and privacy is a human survival instinct – we are protecting ourselves. Secrets – we all seem to have them, hidden behind the smiling exterior we want everybody else to see and believe… such is the complexity of human nature.

I tried to apply this to my own situation, and thought about what information I withhold from those around me. To the frustration of those closest to me, I am very private by nature and much more of a listener than a talker. For example: despite my young age, I have moved abroad twice, most recently to America. And I can honestly say it has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I kept this a secret from my nearest and dearest, but adjusting and integrating into a completely different culture, coupled with the financial stresses of such a move, really took its toll on me. I often wondered if I made the right choice, and so eventually decided to share my burden with my family. I wanted to turn this around, and focus on the positives. They helped me see that despite everything, the move strengthened me. It showed me new experiences, new cultures, new people…a way of life that was new and interesting to me. I learned from it. As they said, this was a great opportunity for me – regardless if it turned out to be the wrong one – and that nothing is permanent. If you don’t like something, change it. It was my chance to start fresh, somewhere new. Similar to those struggling financially, I was offered a clean slate to build a life again.

So perhaps this was a little longwinded in getting the message across, but I just want to convey that no matter how bleak things may seem, you too can start fresh and learn from your experiences, as I did through mine. Your struggles are not permanent. If you don’t like your financial situation, you can take the necessary steps to change it. You can take the required Credit Counseling and Debtor Education, to get you on your way to having your debts discharged. You can also learn about budgeting, and research financial rebuilding tools to help get you on your feet afterwards. And in the meantime, try sharing your financial worries with those closest to you…as mentioned several times on this blog, a problem shared is a problem halved.

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An Award For All You Bankruptcy Filers!

The bankruptcy world is tough – the concept itself is tarred with stress, frustration and an enormous amount of emotional upheaval. Despite it offering an opportunity for filers to start fresh, free of financial stress and worry, this factor is overlooked predominantly by one thought: I am struggling financially. I don’t know how I am going to get through this.

Well, you know what? You will get through it. You will persevere, file, have your debts discharged if you qualify, and become a brand spanking new ‘financially responsible’ version of your former self. You will face challenges and tough moments throughout the duration of your filing, but you won’t give up. Your determination to be financially stable and successful will drive you through the required Credit Counseling and Debtor Education, propelling you towards the light at the end of your financial struggles.

And for that you deserve recognition. So, to each and every one of you reading this blog, please accept this Affordable Bankruptcy Courses medal for your strength and courage. Your courage in acknowledging you needed help financially, and your strength for wanting to right this wrong and become financially strong and independent.

Don’t become downcast by the battle of bankruptcy – in making the decision to become debt free, you have already won.

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Bankruptcy Attorneys: When Marketing Your Practice, What Are Your Ideal Buyer Personas?

bankruptcy-attorneyAccording to Marketing Personified, a ‘buyer persona’ is an example of a real person who may purchase or have interest in your products and/or services. This is beneficial to organizations when implementing targeted marketing strategies to gain advantages over their competitors. As part of a bankruptcy law firm, you will know the importance of using such personas to increase your confidence when developing your marketing campaigns. After all, you don’t want to waste time and money marketing to the wrong people.

There are 9 general characteristics to consider when profiling a buyer persona, ranging from gender and age to profession and educational background. But perhaps the most important factor to consider in the bankruptcy industry is financial situation, as the reason people are using your services is because they are struggling in this area.

As you can expect, buyer personas have a wide range of distinct personalities, and knowledge of these will help you to tailor and adapt your marketing strategies to meet the expectations of a wider variety of personality types. There will be proactive and impulsive buyers, skeptics, the ones who analyze each purchase in great detail, those who mimic purchasing patterns of their friends…the list goes on. Ultimately your customers are the decision makers, so it is crucial to implement a sales and marketing strategy to give them a ‘nudge’ in the right direction. In doing so, you must match the buyer persona you are targeting. Think like they do. This gives you a greater understanding the buying styles of your target market, meaning you you can more easily market your product or service in the way that most appeals to them. This, in turn, will result in more sales for your firm!

So what does this look like in practice?

Once you have completed a detailed analysis to identify your buyer personas, here are the 5 top ways to market to them. In summary, be more specific in the way you address people and their problems and beliefs. What people believe to be true will govern their buying decisions. Address these beliefs. And, as we already mentioned, pay significant attention to your price range, given that your target market are those in financial distress. There is no point featuring high prices, as in doing so you are eliminating most, if not all, of your target market.

Secondly, identify your value proposition. This is what sets you apart from the crowd. What unique concept, product or service, are you offering that competitors are not? Identify what each of your offerings means to your consumer’s; what is your significance? For example, at Affordable Bankruptcy Courses, we pride ourselves on our affordable, convenient online Credit Counseling and Debtor Education courses. There is no phone call required for certification, further enhancing the convenience of our low-cost service.

So…once you have your detailed buyer personas, know how to market to them, including what you can offer of value…you’re all set! Make sure to check back tomorrow for our next post, though in the meantime feel free to leave us a comment below.

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