When people ask me what I do for a living I tell them “I’m a bankruptcy lawyer.” The reactions I get back range from the judgmental to the practical: “Don’t people abuse the system?” (sometimes); “How do you get paid?” (it’s complicated); “Did you represent Donald Trump?” (no); “Can I discharge my student loans?” (almost certainly not.) After I give these answers I try to steer the discussion to a more important question, which is the role of forgiveness and rehabilitation that is at the core of bankruptcy law and philosophy.
Without getting too deep, I explain that most people, when they take on a debt, have a plan for repayment. They will work their job, or run their business, or develop their property, or combine incomes with their spouse, and every dollar they borrow will be repaid. Clients don’t reach out to me for help until after something goes wrong with their plan: they get laid off, their business does not perform as expected, they get sick, the zoning of their project changes, they go through a painful divorce. Good people, honest people, simply don’t have the cashflow they expected to manage their debt. The bankruptcy laws allow me to help them get past this crisis and put them back on the path to financial well being: improved credit, increased savings, normalcy. In thinking about this bigger picture, the act of resolving the crisis through a bankruptcy case is really only the first step in a longer term goal.
So when I meet a prospective client for the first time, I’m not just thinking “how can I relieve this person’s crisis?” I’m thinking “How can I help this person have a better life?” That’s why I wrote File Bankruptcy and Get Rich, which is a guide to using the bankruptcy laws to improve your finances and get a running start on a better future. It’s also why I team with 720creditscore.com, so that my clients have a trusted source and a logical (and easy to follow) system for improving their credit score after bankruptcy. With this blog, I’m launching a third program to help clients fulfill the promise in File Bankruptcy and Get Rich: how to hold onto the money you make so you can invest in a better future for yourself and your family.
“Most people fail to realize that in life, it’s not how much money you make. It’s how much money you keep,” writes Robert Kiyosaki in the personal finance classic, Rich Dad Poor Dad. But dollars can slip through our fingers without us realizing it. Paying too much for food, rent, clothes, cars, mortgages, travel or anything else we want or need can defeat the value of the bankruptcy discharge and prevent us from moving forward those crucial squares in The Game of Life.
But it’s one thing to hear that we need to keep more of our money, but how do we actually do it? Every day we are bombarded with messages about how this or that brand, product or technique will save us money, but will it? How can we know without risking our own dollars (and precious time) to find out for ourselves? Helping answer this question will be the point of The Bankruptcy Lawyer’s Guide To Saving Money.
In this weekly series, I will explore such mundane but essential topics as clipping and finding the right coupons, or groupons; learning to spot a real bargain from a sales pitch; understanding online deals and discount websites; and much more. I’ll also spend some time with budgeting and financial management. My hope is that after only a short time you’ll be on your way to keeping the dollars you make and building real financial security.
To start, next week I’m going to begin a series about buying cars at auctions. Many of my clients are suffocating from enormous car payments, the result of trading in older cars worth less than what they owed and rolling those loans into the new cars. Then combine high interest rates with these inflated loans and you have a terrible recipe for a monthly (or, with some lenders, weekly) struggle to make the car payment. Bankruptcy can help get out from under the car loan, but then how do you replace the car that you need to get to work? Buying cars at auction is a possible solution, but you need to understand the possible pitfalls. I’ll explore the benefits and the dangers of automotive auction hunting starting next week.
Some day, I hope to tell someone that I’m a bankruptcy lawyer and they’ll ask “How do you help your clients lead better lives?” When they do, I’ll show them this blog.
Talk to you soon,