When and Reasons Why to File for Bankruptcy

past due bills handDeclaring bankruptcy is a pretty extreme measure, but used in the right way at the right time, it can save you money, preserve your peace of mind, and get you back on your feet financially.

However, declaring bankruptcy can also be expensive and time-consuming, and have a huge impact on your credit store. This, in turn, can have far-ranging effects on other aspects of your life, such as buying a new car or home, or even applying for jobs. Also, waiting to declare bankruptcy until you are completely broke can actually work against you.

Consider Alternatives to Bankruptcy

Click to continue reading...

How to Declare and File for Bankruptcy – 4-Step Process

bankruptcy wordsPetitioning for bankruptcy can be a long process, but it doesn’t need to be a difficult one. Most of it is simply a matter of filling out the paperwork correctly and approaching things in the right order.

When a debtor attempts to declare bankruptcy, their case is examined by a government employee called a trustee. The trustee is responsible for overseeing the bankruptcy and handling issues throughout the process. Most petitioners deal mainly with the trustee, and won’t actually have to appear in court, other than to confirm their debt payment plan for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A large portion of bankruptcy cases are handled mostly through paperwork, and are more like an administrative process than a legal proceeding.

Click to continue reading...

10 Factors That Affect Your Health Insurance Premium Costs

doctors office cardIf you search for health insurance quotes online, you will receive a range of prices from different insurance companies for very similar policies. Different insurance companies assign differing values to components in your risk profile. The information in your insurance application, and your medical history, comprise your risk profile.

Insurance companies use historic data and extensive product research to compile various factors and create a benchmark for risk profiles. The companies review your risk profile, the information included in your health insurance application, against their company benchmarks to decide whether or not to provide you with insurance.

Click to continue reading...

Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – Which Should You File?

bankruptcy eraserIf you’ve decided to declare bankruptcy, it’s important to understand the different types. Both Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy offer unique benefits.

Which one will make sense for you depends on your personal situation including, but not limited to, the amount of debt you have, your income, and the value of your assets.

Which Do You Qualify For?

Anyone can submit a bankruptcy petition (i.e. your “application”) for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, the court does not have to accept your petition if the trustee determines that you should be filing for the other type of bankruptcy, or if you do not qualify to declare bankruptcy at all.

Click to continue reading...

What Is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – Filing Rules & Information

bankruptcyFiling for Chapter 13 bankruptcy can stop creditor harassment, runaway interest rates and fees, and can provide you with a structured plan for paying down your debt. It’s sometimes referred to as a “reorganization” bankruptcy because it reorganizes your debts so that you can afford to pay them.

Unlike a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it does not completely discharge your debts, but rather provides you with the structure to pay them off using your income. People who might benefit from Chapter 13 bankruptcy have regular income, but aren’t able to afford their debt payments and living expenses. Generally, under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a three to five year payment plan is established and once all the payments under the plan have been made, any remaining debt is eliminated.

Click to continue reading...

What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy – Filing Rules & Means Test

bankruptcy billsWhen you think of bankruptcy, you probably think of Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It is sometimes referred to as a “straight bankruptcy” or a liquidation. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows most debts to be entirely forgiven without entering into a payment plan.

Your non-exempt assets are “liquidated,” or sold off, in order to pay for at least a portion of your debt. After the proceeds are distributed to your creditors, the remainder of  your dischargeable debt is forgiven.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be appropriate if you have significant debt you can’t currently pay and don’t foresee an ability to pay in the future. It is an extreme measure, but can offer a way out from an otherwise untenable situation.

Click to continue reading...

H&R Block Income Tax Course – How to Become a Tax Preparer

hr block logoIf you’re handy with finances, you might have helped some of your family or friends do their taxes. Want to get paid for it? If you take the H&R Block tax course, you’ll learn a lot about how taxes work and get an opportunity to work for H&R Block during tax season.

This class is very comprehensive and will teach you a ton about taxes that you can use in your own tax preparation, when you’re helping your friends, or planning ahead for next year. I took it a few years ago and had a great time while learning a lot.

Click to continue reading...

Frivolous Tax Arguments and Cases of IRS Tax Fraud

money handcuffsOver the years, many people have conjured up incredible arguments about why they shouldn’t have to pay taxes. Using convoluted arguments or ultra-specific, twisted-around readings of tax codes, they convince themselves that the tax laws are there to be ignored.

There’s a reason the United States Tax Court officially refers to these claims as “frivolous tax arguments.” They have rules about people who try these moves, and they’ve thrown thousands of people in jail for wasting their time with these attempts to get out of their fair share of taxes.

Click to continue reading...

How to Withdraw from Your 401k or IRA for the Down Payment on a House

down payment house retirementBuying a home can be a big step towards securing your financial future, but saving for the down payment can be very time-consuming.

However, if you already have money in your retirement accounts, you might be able to use it to speed up the process. We’ll discuss which accounts don’t penalize you when you use the money to buy a first home as well as strategies for saving on penalties and taxes.

Using Your IRA for a Home Down Payment

The IRS discourages you from withdrawing money from your retirement accounts early by charging a 10% penalty on withdrawals before you turn 59 1/2.

Click to continue reading...

How to Tap into a Roth IRA for College Savings & Education

graduation student moneyIf you have children at home who hope to go to college someday (or someday soon), it’s important to plan ahead financially. College tuition is increasing every year and financial aid is never as generous as one could hope.

You might already be familiar with 529 college savings plans, but you can also take advantage of another way to save for college – your Roth IRA. While it won’t generally be suitable as your only method, it can offer several advantages.

Reasons to Use a Roth IRA for College Savings

Click to continue reading...