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Start Planning Now for a Cheaper Christmas 2014 – 5 Tips to Save on the Holidays

Christmas gift

Save on Christmas this year!

Image source: Flickr User mac9416

Christmas comes with great expectations, particularly if you have kids that want a pile of presents. But to keep your spending under control, you need to set a firm budget and stick to it. On average, most families spend around $800 on Christmas allotting roughly $222 per child and per spouse. But if your child is hoping for a new iPhone or a game system, that money might not go very far toward their wants. Today we'll look at some tips to have a cheaper Christmas without dialing down the fun.

Injured and Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim? How Bankruptcy Affects Your Settlement

Car accident

Injured in a car accident? You may be eligible for a personal injury claim

Image source: Flickr User Rian Castillo

If you have been injured in a car accident, by medical malpractice or are anticipating another type of personal injury settlement (asbestos, workers compensation, etc.), and are also planning to file bankruptcy, you should let both your bankruptcy and personal injury attorney know. Why? So they can work together to get you the best possible relief on both fronts. Here are answers to some of the questions we've been asked by clients dealing with both debt and personal injury...

3 Debts That Can't Be Discharged in Bankruptcy (Usually)


Three types of debt usually can't be eliminated in bankruptcy 

Image source: Flickr User Tim Samoff

Bankruptcy can offer meaningful solutions to those that are overwhelmed by their debts and can't afford to pay what they owe. Of the two types of bankruptcy filed by individuals or couples, chapter 7 offers the most complete debt relief for those that qualify. In a chapter 7, most unsecured debts are able to be discharged within just a few months of filing. With a chapter 13, you're given time to catch up on past due debts and see some of your unsecured debts discharged that aren't paid off in full during your repayment plan.

Protect Yourself at the ATM – 5 Tips to Keep Your Cash Safe

Card skimmer

Card skimmers can record your ATM card information

Image source: Flickr user ThisIsntExeter

We've written recently about a number of data breaches that have put your financial information at risk. Most noticeably, the Target and Home Depot breaches put tens of millions of consumers' credit card numbers at risk. To minimize risks until the companies had their systems safe once again, spending cash was recommended. But spending cash necessitates a trip to the bank or ATM and since ATMs are more convenient, they're the likely option. However, increasingly, even ATMs aren't safe.

8 Pieces of Miracle Money Advice for Everyone


Money advice for everyone

Image source: Flickr User peddhapati

There is a lot of financial advice floating around in the world, but if you flip through a magazine or browse a web article with money tips, you may be left with the feeling that it doesn't apply to you. Today, we've got money tips that apply to almost everyone. Whether you're just starting out, are established with a family, are earning great wages or struggling along, check these out:

Owe Back Child Support or Alimony? How a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Can Help


Divorce can cause major money problems 

Image source: Flickr User Jennifer Pahlka

One of the most common drivers of bankruptcy is major life events. We hear from our clients a range of causes that range from loss of a job, major accident or illness and break up of a marriage. This last comes with high costs. Not only are you doubling expenses by splitting into two households, but if children are involved, one parent often must now pay child support and possibly even alimony. This can stretch budgets to the limits and if there is any change in earnings, it can be easy to get behind on payments.

Bankruptcy Basics: The Importance of Providing a Complete List of Creditors


Important bankruptcy tips

Image source: Flickr User Valerie Everett

If you're deep in debt enough to consider bankruptcy as an option, you likely owe money to a whole roster of creditors. What we see in our offices is that when our clients come in to discuss filing bankruptcy, they have a list of pressing debts that they are concerned about – credit cards, car loan, mortgage – but they really don't know exactly who all they owe money to. For some, they may not want to think about how extensive the list is of those they owe and for others, they simply don't remember who all they owe.

New Study Shows Filing Bankruptcy Can Literally Save Your Life


Filing bankruptcy can save your life

Image source: Flickr User Alan Bruce

Many people use the word literally incorrectly (it's a pet peeve of mine). Literally means truly, honestly, actually. As in, my eyes literally popped out of my head would mean my optical orbs physically sprang from their spot on my face. Needless to say, it's not a word to use lightly. But now, a new study shows quantitatively that filing bankruptcy can literally save your life. Research from Harvard University and the Social Security Administration examined Chapter 13 filings and the real-life effects bankruptcy had on filers lives and the findings are incredible. Here's what the study titled Debt Relief and Debtor Outcomes: Measuring the Effects of Consumer Bankruptcy Protection found and how this debt relief option can keep you living longer.

Good News for North Carolina Seniors and 5 Ways to Protect Your Money


North Carolina seniors better off than many other older Americans

Image source: Flickr User Jennier-O

We wrote last week about census data that showed that many in North Carolina are suffering under the yoke of low wages. But today, we have good news from the recent census that shows that seniors in North Carolina are actually doing quite well. Among adults age 65 and older, just 10% are living below the federal poverty level. Comparatively, California has a rate double this and Nevada and Louisiana at nearly double.

5 Things to Consider When Looking for a North Carolina Bankruptcy Attorney


Five things to consider when choosing a bankruptcy attorney

Image source: Flickr user Scott

No one wants to be in overwhelming debt. It's stressful and can make you feel like your life has spiraled out of control – and in some ways, it may have. If you can't afford to pay your bills, if your phone is constantly ringing with calls from debt collectors and if living paycheck to paycheck has become a fact of life, you need help. Depending on what type of debts you have and how much you're earning, bankruptcy may be a helpful solution to get you the financial fresh start you deserve. To get the best results, you need a good attorney. Here are five things to consider:

Fraud Alert: Watch Out for Duke Energy Scam Causing Identity Theft

Duke Energy

New scam tied to Duke Energy

Image source: Flickr user Diamondback Truck Covers

We like to keep our readers current on scams that are circulating so you can be on guard and protect your personal information and your money. There's a new fraud operation making the rounds in North Carolina for you to be on the lookout for that centers around Duke Energy, or rather scammers pretending to be with Duke Energy. Because they're using a trusted name, it can be easier for fraudsters to gain the access they need to commit their crime.

4 Reasons to Consider Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to Save Your Home

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 can help you save your home

Image source: Flickr user Alexander Makarov

There are different forms of debt relief and not every type is a good fit for every circumstance. If you have been threatened with foreclosure or are concerned about the fate of your home, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may offer you more appropriate relief than a Chapter 13. The primary benefit of a Chapter 7 is that it gives you a completely clean slate, but it may not be the best solution depending on what's going on with your mortgage. Here are some things to consider.

Low Wages Holding Back North Carolina Families – Census Data Shocker


Low wages holding families back in Charlotte and other North Carolina cities

Image source: Flickr user James Williamor

The US Census Bureau just released new data that shows that many in North Carolina are still struggling. Even though employment numbers are up and more in our state are working, that doesn't mean they're earning the wages they need to support a reasonable standard of living. One-third of North Carolina workers are earning poverty wages – this is up drastically from a decade ago when it was closer to one-fourth. Either way, this is far too many people earning far too less.

Last Minute Payroll Tips to Save You Money at Year End

Save money

Payroll tips for year end

Image source: Flickr user 401(K) 2012

Today is the first of October which is day one of the fourth quarter. It's hard to believe it's 2014, much less that it's the last few months of the year. Now is the time to look closely at your payroll and tax strategies to make sure you are making smart choices. These can save you on taxes, help you have money on hand for the holidays and shore up your finances.

3 Cool Apps to Help You Manage Your Money Smarter

Money apps

Money apps can help you deal with finances on the go

Image source: Flick User Intel Free Press

Let's face it, not everyone has stellar money management skills. When clients come in to see us because they're struggling with money problems, there is usually an underlying cause and the financial problems are the symptoms. Sometimes it's an illness or job loss, other times it's divorce. But once money gets tight, it's hard to make smart decisions because of the stress of being cash-strapped. Today we'll take a look at some apps that can help you wrap your head around making better better money decisions whether you're pre-bankruptcy and still struggling or post-bankruptcy and getting back on your feet financially.

Warning from the NC Dept of Justice: Beware the Apple iTunes Scam

Apple iTunes

Beware new iTunes scams!

Image source: Flickr User fdecomite

There are as many scams floating around as the day is long from fraudsters seeking to steal your personal information, identity and, ultimately, your money. Today we'll show you how a new iTunes scam is taking advantage, how it works and how to protect yourself from would-be scammers. This scam starts by inspiring fear. This is clever because fear can be a powerful motivator.

3 Great Alternatives If You Can't Get a Bank Account Because of Your Money Problems


WIthout a bank account, managing money can be a nightmare!

Image source: Flickr User Myfuture.com

There's a large segment of the US population that is unbanked or underbanked – roughly 30% of us in fact. Not having a bank can make life hard. For those without a bank account, simple things like having paychecks direct deposited are impossible and getting a paycheck cashed is a time wasting hassle. You can either head to the financial institution where your employer banks or pay a fee to get your check cashed. This makes life much harder on those already struggling and is just senseless.

Are Your Housing and Car Costs Out of Control? See How These Expenses Can Ruin Your Budget

House and car

Are your house and car expenses way too much?

Image source: Flickr User William Creswell

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a great organization that is always busy gathering data about how much money we all earn and how we save and spend it. Today we'll take a look at two of the most important pieces of that data – how much we spend on housing and transportation and how much heavier these costs weigh on those that are earning less. In fact, even though those that earn more can afford to indulge, the percentage of income remains about the same for middle to high income earners for most categories except for these two. Let's take a look.

5 Practical Money Tips for Middle Class Earners - Get Your Budget Under Control Now!


How much money can you really afford to spend?

Image source: Steven Depolo

Does it always seem like you're just scraping by? Do you run out of money a day (or two) before your paycheck is due? Are you always stressed and having to do last minute expense juggling? If you're experiencing any – or all – of these on a regular basis, you're not alone. This can be doubly confusing and stressful if you're earning a decent, steady wage yet the money never seems to go far enough to take care of your expenses. Even households with two income earners struggle to pay their bills, much less to have money to save for retirement or as an emergency buffer.

Attorney Ed Boltz Interviewed on Capital City Recap with Michael Cohen

On air interview

Ed Boltz on-air interview with Michael Cohen

On September 11, 2014, attorney Ed Boltz from the law offices of John T Orcutt was interviewed by Michael Cohen of WILS 1320 for his Michigan radio program, Capital City Recap, to discuss bankruptcy topics and student loans. This was a great Q&A on bankruptcy in general, so we're presenting the transcript in full here for your enjoyment. Click here to listen along while you read.


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