debit card

4 Ways that Debit Cards are Beneficial for Young Teens

4 Ways that Debit Cards are Beneficial for Young Teens

By Tracy L. Hirsch

It may seem like giving your 13-year-old a debit card is too much too soon, but in this digital age, debit cards are quickly replacing cash. Here’s how to wisely integrate a debit card while teaching your preteens and teens important lessons about finances and budgeting.

When your children are in preschool and elementary school, dollar bills and coins are the perfect way to teach them about money. As your children enter their preteen and early teenage years, it’s a good idea to build on those basic money concepts by introducing them to debit cards.

You may be thinking, “Really? Isn’t that going to be confusing for them? Won’t that seem like a license to overspend?” My answer to that is “no” — as long as you take the time to teach them how to be responsible with it!

Giving your child a debit card when they are a preteen or young teenager can be beneficial as it prepares them for adulthood. All adults have debit cards, so why not teach them as early as possible how to use those cards wisely? That way, they will have the concept of budgeting ingrained in them for several years before they live on their own.

If you feel apprehensive about linking a regular debit card to a checking account, you could start out with a prepaid debit card to ensure that there’s no way for them to overdraft their account. Once they have enough practice, you can find a bank that has a debit card program for young teens.

Here are four tips on how to make a debit card work for you and your preteens or teenagers.

Remember: Debit cards teach your teens how to keep track of saving and spending!

Here are four tips on how to make a debit card work for you and your preteens or teenagers.

1.) Have them earn the money that’s attached to the debit card. It’s not beneficial to just add money to their bank account whenever they need something. It’s best to make sure that they earn that money in order to understand the reward of working hard.

Whenever your child does an extra chore, assign a value to it. For example, unloading the dishwasher could earn them $2, whereas mowing the front lawn could earn them $15.

If your child wants to go out for icecream with their friends or wants to go to a theme park for the afternoon, they can save up for these outings. In order for them to see what’s being added and subtracted, it’s vitally important to implement the tip below.

2.) Give them a checkbook register, and show them how to use it. Instead of cashing and writing checks, your child will be receiving electronic deposits and spending with their debit card. Regardless of whether they’re spending money with paper or card, a check register will help them keep track of their money (all the while preparing them for adulthood).

Set aside some one-on-one quiet time with your child, and show them how to add and subtract from their register. Tell them that when they earn money for unloading the dishwasher, you will deposit $2.00 into their account, and they will need to write “Chore – Dishwasher” in the description, and write “$2.00” in the deposit column. Then show them how to update the balance.

For example, if they have already have $20.00 in their checking account, and they earn $2.00 for unloading the dishwasher, the total balance is now $22.00. Next, show them that if they spend $5.00 on a meal at the local burger place, they need to put the name of the business in the description, and put “$5.00” in the withdrawal column, and update the balance to $17.00.

3.) Show them how to budget with their register. If your 13-year old wants to go to a theme park with their friends, and the ticket is $40.00, explain to them that they can only purchase the ticket once the balance in their register is over $40.00. If their balance is $17.00, you can suggest that they can mow the front lawn for $15.00 and take care of their younger sibling for an hour while you run a quick errand for $10.00.

Show them that when they add $25.00 to the $17.00 balance, they will have a $42.00 balance, which will give them enough money to purchase the theme park ticket.

4.) Set up a weekly meeting to review their register and budget with them. It’s a good idea to sit down with your child at the end of each week to make sure that their online bank statement total matches up with the current total in their check register. Show your child the bank statement balance, and ask them if it matches the balance in their register.

If it doesn’t match up, tell your child that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that you’re proud of them for working hard and for being willing to learn something new. Then have your child look at the itemized bank statement so that they can find which deposit(s) and/or purchase(s) they forgot to record in their register.

Once they find them on their own, have them enter those into their checkbook and update the balance. Be sure to let them know that you’re proud of them for learning skills that they will use every single day when they become adults!

Teaching your older kids about money can seem like a daunting task, but when you show them the basic building blocks of spending, saving, and budgeting, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they get the hang of it.

Do your preteens or teens have their own debit card? If so, do you have any additional tips that you would recommend? Please share them in the comment section of our Facebook post — we would love to hear to hear your suggestions!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Lawyer

Do you have debt and don't know what to do? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

girl sports

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Kids’ Extracurricular Activities

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Kids' Extracurricular Activities

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Whether it’s sports, music, dance, or theater, the cost of keeping your kids involved can add up quickly. Here’s how you can cut costs.

Extracurricular activities have numerous benefits for your children — they get to form relationships with their peers, they get to acquire new skills in a collaborative setting, and they get to tap into their natural talents and abilities and enhance them.

All of these things benefit your child’s emotional well-being, and can help them build confidence while forming friendships and learning about teamwork.

Every parent wants their child to learn and grow, and to bond with other children. While that’s a worthy goal, it often (literally) comes with a cost.

If your child is involved in sports, there’s the cost of equipment and practices; if your child is involved in music, there’s the cost of the instrument and the lessons; if your child is involved in dance, there’s the cost of uniforms and dance academy.

What’s more, if you have more than one child, and each child has multiple interests, you can easily spend hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars a year, especially if travel for sports games or recitals is required. With kids getting ready to go back to school, the budget is already getting tighter!

Remember: Doing extracurricular activities shouldn’t require racking up debt on a credit card.

That being said, here are five ways to save money on your children’s extracurricular activities:

1.) Inquire about student discounts and/or group discounts. While certain activity instructors may not offer any type of discount, it doesn’t hurt to ask! Ask the instructor if they provide a:

Referral discount: a discount for referring friends and family members who sign up for lessons

Group discount: a discount for enrolling two or more children at a time

Returning Student discount: a discount for being a loyal participant for multiple years/seasons in a row

Package discount: a discount for signing up for multiple sessions upfront

Registration discount: a discount for signing up by a certain date

Sliding Scale discount: a discount based on a low level of income

Coaching Discount: a discount is often given if you decide to coach a sports team (In fact, most of the time, your children play for free if you assist with coaching!)

Instructors and organizations may offer one or more of the above, which can save you a lot of money in the long run.

2.) Look into programs that are run by non-profit organizations. While private lessons can be beneficial in certain circumstances, activities that involve participation on a team can often be done for free.

The YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are great places to start, but you can also look into activities that are run by churches, local libraries, and/or county recreation departments in the greater Louisville area.

3.) Lower the additional costs associated with extracurricular activities. While the lessons themselves usually cost money, there are also additional expenses that come with it. Supplies, equipment, uniforms, and gas money to drive to lessons and sports practices add up quickly.

Here’s how to save on those things:

– Buy gently-used equipment or borrow from someone

– Set up a carpool with other teammates to cut down the cost of gas for all parents

– Buy gently-used uniforms and attire from parents whose kids participated in previous seasons

If long-distance travel is involved, the cost of hotels, gas, and/or plane tickets can really add up. Here are some tips on how to reduce travel costs:

– If you need to fly, be sure to book your flight at least two to three months in advance since last-minute flights are more expensive

– If you’re driving, carpool with other team members

– If traveling in a group, inquire about hotel discounts for a block of rooms

girl swim

4.) Find extracurricular activities that your children can do at home. If your child has a particular interest, find out how you can help them learn on an individual level. Here are some creative ideas:

YouTube. If your child wants to learn how to properly swing a baseball bat or wants to learn how to play guitar, there are thousands of free tutorials on YouTube that teach these things. Almost any activity that you can think of can be found in an online video tutorial: cake decorating, painting, skateboarding, photography, and so on.

Blogs. Many blog writers provide expert instructions on how to cook, play music, and learn sports.

Library. Many great authors have written books or created DVDs to teach a particular skill set.

Swap Skills! If you know a fellow parent who can teach your kid a particular skill, you could ask them to teach your child, and then you can offer to teach their child in return.

For example, if you know a parent who is an experienced artist, they could teach your child how to draw and paint. In return, if you are an experienced golfer, you could teach their child the best ways to  drive and putt a golf ball.

Once your child acquires the basic skills for a certain activity, they can then move onto joining a group or team if that fits into your budget.

5.) Teach your kids about budgeting. While you never want your kids to carry burdens that they don’t need to carry, it’s important to thoughtfully talk to your kids about the family budget so that they can understand why they can’t participate in every activity under the sun.

It’s important to lovingly and carefully explain why you may have to say ‘no’ to enrolling in certain activities due to limited finances.

If your children are very young, it can be helpful to explain to them what money is, and how you can be a good steward of your money.

That could also provide an opportunity for you to teach them about prioritizing. If your child wants to sign up for six extracurricular activities that are similar in cost, and you can only afford three of them, you can sit down with them to determine which activities are most important to them, and then enroll them in their top three choices.

You can also explain how you’ve had to cut out certain items and activities in order to save money, and that being part of a family sometimes requires sacrifice.

If your children are in their teens, you can ask them to contribute to the expenses that are associated with the sports and artistic activities that they want to participate in. This will instill a good work ethic in them, and help them learn that they have to earn certain privileges.

They can do jobs for neighbors, family, and friends, such as:

– Walk a neighbor’s dog every morning

– Do yard work (like raking leaves and cutting grass)

– Babysit or assist parents on their local family outings

– Clean houses (like dusting, vacuuming, and mopping)

– Selling handmade goods (such as baked goods, jewelry, art, etc.)

While extracurricular activities are wonderful for our children, it’s good to find ways to cut costs, while teaching them the importance of budgeting and prioritizing. Do you have anything that you would add to this list? If so, please share your suggestions in the comment section of our Facebook post.

Parents supporting other parents is what makes a healthy and thriving community, and creative ideas can be the impetus for success for all involved!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Kentucky Bankruptcy Attorney

Have debt? Want to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

Will I have to go to court if I file for bankruptcy?

Will I have to go to court if I file for bankruptcy?

By Tracy L. Hirsch

When you file, you do have to go to court, but it’s not as scary you might assume. In fact, it’s usually quick and painless! Here’s what you can expect.

Filing for bankruptcy in Louisville, Kentucky (or any other state for that matter) can seem like a daunting task, especially when people hear that they have to go to court.

Most people are nervous at the thought of going to court because they think they’re going to go through a process that’s similar to being on trial.

The truth of the matter is, you’re not there for a criminal prosecution, and you’re not on trial. Rather, you’re there to verify that you are voluntarily participating in a legal and necessary process called bankruptcy. This court meeting is called a “341 Meeting.”

The point of the 341 Meeting isn’t to make you feel guilty for filing for bankruptcy. In fact, quite the contrary. The court meeting is held so that the trustee can make sure that you understand the process, and that everything in your bankruptcy petition is true and accurate.

Here are some facts about the ‘341’ court meetings in Louisville, KY:

1.) Bankruptcy court meetings are currently being done remotely. As of now (July 2021), court meetings are still being held over Zoom or over the phone. Before the pandemic, court meetings were held in person at the Federal Building in downtown Louisville.

As of now, and for the foreseeable future, the meetings won’t be done in person. The upside to that is that you don’t have to spend time in the car to and from the courthouse, spend money on parking, and so on. Also, it means less time away from work.

In regards to getting to the meeting, all you have to do is call in if you have a phone meeting or click on a Zoom link if you have a video meeting, and that’s it! It is also important to have your photo ID and social security card on hand at the time of your meeting.

Remember: Your court date is set up to help you, not harm you.

2.) As your attorney, I will go to the meeting with you. When meetings were held in the court house, I would meet my clients there in person. Now, I call in to your meeting or log into Zoom so that I am there with you, even though it’s not face to face.

That way, if you have a question or need clarification on something that the trustee is asking you, I’ll be there to help you.

3.) The meetings are usually completed in a matter of minutes. While there is sometimes a wait in regards to speaking to the trustee, when it’s time for your turn, the entire meeting itself is usually only 5 to 10 minutes. Many people think that they’ll be in Court for the entire day, but that’s not true.

I always tell my clients that when they wait for their name to be called and then have the meeting, the longest total amount of time for all of that is usually not longer than 30 minutes.

4.) These meetings are mandatory. Whether you file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13, coming to your court meeting isn’t optional, and the date of the meeting cannot be changed. The trustee has many debtors on the docket, and they are scheduled together so that the meetings can be done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

If you don’t show up, your case cannot be completed and will get dismissed. If your case gets dismissed, you will no longer have protection from your creditors, so it’s important to make the court meeting a priority!

Now that you know the basics about when, where, and why these meetings take place, you may be wondering how it’s done. If you’re thinking, “What specifically happens at the meeting when the trustee calls my name?”, that’s a great question (and a very common one).

When the trustee calls your name, that means that they are ready to start your meeting and ask you questions about your bankruptcy petition.

Again, the trustee isn’t trying to trick you or put you on the spot – they just need to verify that you have listed all of your debts, assets, and creditors in an honest and accurate manner.

They also need to make sure that you haven’t omitted any pertinent information that could negatively and unfairly affect your bankruptcy and/or your creditors.

During your 341 Meeting, the trustee will ask questions like these:

  1. What is your name and address? (They will also ask you to show your photo ID if you’re doing a Zoom video meeting.)
  2. Before you filed for bankruptcy, did you review the bankruptcy petition with your attorney?
  3. To the best of your knowledge, is everything that’s listed in your bankruptcy petition true and accurate?
  4. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy in the past?
  5. Did you list all of the debts that you currently have?
  6. Did you list all of your assets, including real estate/property, homes, cars, and so on?

The trustee will usually ask a few additional questions relating to specific aspects of your bankruptcy case, especially is you’ve filed a previous bankruptcy case. Once you’ve answered all of their questions, the trustee will let you know that the meeting is officially over, and that you can hang up the phone or exit the Zoom meeting.

Even though filing for bankruptcy requires multiple steps (gathering documents, doing two credit counseling courses, filing, and going to court), your attorney can walk you through each step to ensure that you’ve completed all of the necessary requirements.

If you’re currently considering bankruptcy, but feel overwhelmed by the process, I can answer your questions to put your mind at ease. With 21 years of experience, I have helped thousands of clients obtain the fresh start that they need, and I’m here to help you too!

You can call or text me on my cell phone at (502) 435-2593 to set up a free consultation. There’s no obligation to file, and I can work around your schedule. If you’ve been struggling with debt for months or even years, now’s the time to learn about your options.

Please visit my homepage at www.hirschbklaw.com, where you’ll learn more facts about bankruptcy, as well as information about my law firm. I hope to hear from you soon!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Attorney

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

JCPS meals

JCPS is Providing Free Meals During Summer Break

JCPS is Providing Free Meals During Summer Break

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Here’s where you can get free breakfast, lunch, and dinner for your children.

Last week, Jefferson County Public Schools started providing free meals to children and teens in Jefferson County. There are numerous sites where these meals are offered, and they’re offered during the entire summer break (through July 29th).

The summer food service program offers free meals to any child 18 years of age or younger, and the meals can be picked up at multiple Jefferson County school locations, as well as community centers.

JCPS also has mobile cafeterias that travel to multiple different sites every day, including parks, pools, and neighborhoods.

Read below for the details about free meals over summer break!

Here’s how you can find a pick-up site near you:

1.) Download the JCPS mobile app (for apple or android), and check the school menu section.

2.) Go to jcps.nutrislice.com, enter your zip code, and then view the menus at each location within your zip code. 

Below is a list of all pick-up sites and mobile routes:

If you have any additional information about the summer food program, please feel free to share it in the comment section of our Facebook post.

And if you know other families who have kids at JCPS, please share our Facebook post to spread the word!

a glass balloon pic

Here’s How to Get Free Admission to Tons of Fun Activities in Louisville this Summer

Here's How to Get Free Admission to Tons of Fun Activities in Louisville this Summer

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Enjoy some family-friendly fun while learning about culture and art without spending a dime!

Are you looking for fun and educational activities for your children this summer?

There’s a fantastic program called the “2021 Cultural Pass,” and it provides free access to artistic and cultural activities in the Greater Louisville area.

There are activities for toddlers, young children, teenagers, and college students. These activities are being offered from June 1st through August 8th, 2021.

The ‘Cultural Pass’ was created in 2014 by Vision Louisville, and is a creative way to enhance summer learning, while promoting various cultural and artistic expressions.

Over the past 7 years, over 240,000 passes have been issued to members of our local community!

A pottery pic

The Cultural Pass is a great way to create family time and discover new things together, and you don’t have to spend money to enjoy it! The pass is free of charge, and there are more than 50 participating venues.

To see a full list of where you can use your Cultural Pass, click here

Some activities are done in-person at specific venues, and other activities are offered online.

> Here are detailed descriptions of the in-person activities: Click here.

> Here are detailed descriptions of the virtual (online) activities: Click here.

You can register for the Cultural Pass online at any of the following local library websites.

After you register online, your family’s paper pass will need to be picked up in person, so you can choose the library that is closest to you.

The links for registration at each library are listed below.

Louisville Free Public Library: Register Online  

Bullitt County Library: Register Online

Jeffersonville Township Public Library: Register Online

Charlestown-Clark County Public Library: Register Online

Floyd County Library: Register Online

Harrison County Public Library: Register Online

Have you and your family enjoyed the Cultural Pass during previous summer breaks?

If so, please feel free to share your experiences and any tips you may have in the comment section of our Facebook post. We would love to hear from you!

living room

Saying Goodbye to Your Home: Here’s How That Can Be a Good Thing.

Saying Goodbye to Your Home: Here's How That Can Be a Good Thing.

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Your home may be keeping you from your long-term goals of financial freedom.

Many of us have bought into the idea that owning a home means that you’ve made it in life. While being a homeowner can be a great experience, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone’s housing needs.

We’ve all been told that home ownership is part of the American dream, but are there times when it’s not? While owning a home outright has a lot of upsides, most Americans have to take out a mortgage loan in order to afford it.

Having a monthly mortgage isn’t inherently a bad thing — in fact it can be the contrary. As with anything in life, it comes with pros and cons, but at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself whether you can truly afford to own a home.

Sometimes staying in a home seems like the “right thing to do,” but is it really the best choice if it’s weighing you down financially?

If you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck each month after paying your mortgage and all other monthly expenses, then that means that you technically can’t afford your home.

Why is that? Because owning a home is a much larger investment than just a mortgage payment.

Owning a home means that you need money for:

– home owner’s insurance

– mortgage insurance

– property tax

– utilities (electricity, heating/cooling, water, etc.)

– external home maintenance and repairs (such as roofing, gutters, siding, yard maintenance, and so on)

– internal home maintenance and repairs (such as appliances, flooring, HVAC system, plumbing, and electrical issues)

– HOA dues (if applicable)

Remember: Home ownership isn’t the best fit for everyone.

So if you can’t afford all of the things listed above, you’re currently throwing “good money after bad,” meaning, if you continue to pay your mortgage payments and can only afford to pay for the home owner’s insurance, you’re putting money into something that won’t last. How so?

At some point, if you don’t pay your property tax, HOA dues, and so on, you will have liens against your property. That’s not a good situation to be in.

You might be thinking, “Well, even if I can’t afford those things, what else can I do? I need a place to live!” That’s a great question. What are the alternatives? You definitely need a place to lay your head at night, and this is where it’s time to think outside of the box.

Here are three of the easiest options if you can’t afford the cost of home ownership or you’re behind on your mortgage:

1.) File a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to save your home. If you’re behind on your mortgage payments, and need to catch up on the arrearages (i.e. the total amount that you’re behind on your mortgage), you could file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy,

This will do two things: first, it will protect your home from going into foreclosure, and second, it will set up a repayment plan where you can pay back your arrearages over a five-year period.

This will only work if you can still afford to pay your regular monthly mortgage payment (and all home-related expenses) in addition to a monthly Chapter 13 payment. It’s best to speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney to look at your budget and determine whether or not that’s feasible.

If it’s not feasible for you, it can be beneficial to let go of the house, and go with options 2 or 3 (those are listed below).

If you’re already in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and need to let go of your home, you could convert your case to a Chapter 7, and also choose options 2 or 3 (see below) while you save up for a future home that you can afford.

Within 24 months of filing a Chapter 7, you could rebuild your credit to qualify for a home once you’re in a financially stable place.

Again, it’s best to speak to a qualified attorney in order to discuss the best plan of action for your situation.

2.) Merge households. Multi-generational households were very common in the 1940’s, mostly due to the ‘Great Recession of 1937,’ where the economy took a sharp downturn after The Great Depression.

While the percentage of families who lived together decreased slightly in the subsequent decades, it started to rise again in the 1990’s, and has steadily increased to the point where the numbers are currently at an all-time high.

Many people think of merging households as negative, however, a sibling moving in with another sibling, or kids and grandkids moving in with the grandparents, can have multiple benefits. It can save tons of money if multiple adults contribute to one mortgage payment.

Also, splitting the cost of utilities and maintenance saves thousands of dollars too.

Additionally, studies have shown that healthy individuals who live with family members (especially two-generation households) have a longer lifespan than healthy individuals who live alone. Having a support system around you every day can provide greater emotional well-being, and so can having affordable living expenses.

If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of packing all of your belongings and moving, you might be tempted to keep paying on a house that you can’t afford in order to avoid the stress. However, if you pay someone to pack up your home for you, that can solve your problem.

Even if you have to pay $3,000 for someone to help you pack and move, that’s better than paying that same amount every single month for a mortgage, utilities, insurance, and more.

3.) Rent an apartment or condo. It’s important to remember that your value as a person isn’t defined by how much money you have or by what you own. Renting is a perfectly acceptable way to secure housing for you and your family.

Renting an apartment or condo usually means that you don’t have to personally take care of outdoor maintenance (such as grass-cutting, roof repairs, etc.), and you don’t need to replace appliances or pay property taxes.

All in all, merging households (friends living with friends, or families moving in together) and renting are two wise alternatives for home owners who are in over their heads financially.

If your heart is set on becoming a home owner, renting or moving in with family can give you time to rebuild your credit and save money for a down payment.

If you’ve recently received a foreclosure notice, and want to save your home with a Chapter 13, or if you’re currently in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and can no longer afford your home, let’s chat.

I offer free consultations to discuss your debt relief options, and we can talk over the phone or in person. Text or call (502) 435-2593 to find out if your home is worth keeping, or if you’re better off exploring other options. I’m always here to help!

Sincerely,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Lawyer

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

lies blog feature photo

5 Lies That People Believe About Bankruptcy

5 Lies That People Believe About Bankruptcy

By Tracy L. Hirsch

When it comes to filing for bankruptcy, my motto at Hirsch Law is “No Stigma, No Shame.” Here’s why I believe that’s true.

If you’re afraid to file for bankruptcy due to preconceived notions or due to fear, shame, or guilt, I’m here to reassure you that bankruptcy isn’t a four-letter word.

However, I understand that there is a certain stigma surrounding individuals who file for bankruptcy. Many assume that if they choose bankruptcy, they will be viewed as lazy, dishonest, and irresponsible.

In reality, that stigma is still somewhat present, but not as heavily as you’d think. More often than not, my clients’ own fears make them feel hesitant to file for bankruptcy (fear of what people will think of them, fear that bankruptcy will haunt them for the rest of their lives, and so on).

To alleviate any fear, I’m going to bust the cultural myths that are attached to finances, and specifically to declaring bankruptcy.

It’s important to know that bankruptcy won’t ruin your future. In fact, it has the potential to give you the future you’ve always dreamed of — one that’s free of debt. Let’s dive into the facts!

Lie #1: Your financial status determines whether or not you’re “successful.” This is false. The truth of the matter is that your success or worth as a human being is not related to how much money you have. Having low income and/or having debt shouldn’t define you. Debt is something that you have, not who you are.

Taking care of that debt through bankruptcy can help make your life easier (since you don’t have the stress of creditors coming after you), but your value as a person stays the same whether or not you have debt, and whether or not you file for bankruptcy.

Remember: Your value as a person has nothing to do with your financial status.

Lie #2: All people who file for bankruptcy are dishonest. This is false. People are often afraid that they’ll be seen as opportunistic if they file for bankruptcy.

They may think that it will look like they’re trying to cheat their creditors out of money that is owed to them. Here’s the truth: In many cases, people file for bankruptcy because they are truly in a difficult situation.

For example, someone may end up needing emergency surgery for a rare disease or type of cancer, and then need to see a specialist that’s outside of their insurance network. As a result, they might end up with $100,000 in medical bills.

Even if the hospital and specialists agree to set up a payment plan, they might require $3,000 a month. That isn’t feasible for most people, and the only way out could be to file for bankruptcy.

Lie #3: All people who file for bankruptcy are irresponsible when it comes to using credit cards. This is false. In fact, I have clients who file for bankruptcy who don’t have any credit card debt at all!

Making generalizations or assumptions (that all people who have debt must have maxed out a bunch of credit cards) is harmful because there are many reasons that people file for bankruptcy.

As seen in the example above, someone may have debt solely due to medical bills, and not due to unwarranted shopping sprees. Furthermore, some people use their credit cards to avoid being sent to collection agencies.

For example, someone may put medical bills, prescription medications costs, and car repair bills on their credit cards to avoid going to collections.

While that can be a way to pay off those bills over time (without shorting the people who provided those products and services), it can end up being overwhelming if the APR on those credit cards is too high.

When it gets to the point that even paying the minimum monthly payment is unaffordable, that’s when people consider bankruptcy as a way to pay back the debt without the high interest rates attached.

In a nutshell, not all bankruptcy filings are due to financial irresponsibility relating to credit cards.

Lie #4: Bankruptcy will permanently destroy your credit. This is false. While a bankruptcy does stay on your credit report for 7 years after filing a Chapter 13 (and 10 years after filing a Chapter 7), it’s actually possible to rebuild your credit within the first year or two after being discharged from bankruptcy.

I have clients who have purchased a home and/or car after filing for bankruptcy, and they were relieved to have a fresh start financially! As long as you pay your monthly bills on time and in full, your credit scores will steadily increase after you successfully complete a bankruptcy plan.

Lie #5: Bankruptcy will haunt you by negatively affecting your future job prospects. This is false. It is illegal for an employer to fire you or refuse to hire you based on whether or not you have filed for bankruptcy in the past.

Did you know that there are doctors and surgeons who are well-established in their field who have filed for bankruptcy in the past? No one is immune to falling on hard times. The only way that bankruptcy will keep you from achieving your career goals is if you let it!

Whether you’re a doctor, a bank teller, a plumber, or a teacher, these things hold true: You are valued no matter what your financial history looks like, and that includes a past bankruptcy.

If you’ve been considering bankruptcy, I hope that you feel relieved in knowing that there’s no need to feel ashamed for falling on hard times and needing help. If you still have questions or need reassurance, I offer free consultations to discuss your options.

I can be reached directly on my cell phone at (502) 435-2593. It’s not too late to get a fresh start — call or text me to see if bankruptcy can provide that for you!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Attorney

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

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Your 3rd Stimulus Check May Not Get to You. Here’s Why.

Your 3rd Stimulus Check May Not Get to You. Here's Why.

By Tracy L. Hirsch

The third round of stimulus checks are being delivered, but some checks may be intercepted. Here’s a quick rundown of why it might happen and how to prevent it.

Who is at risk of losing their stimulus payment?

Congress has recently authorized the distribution of new stimulus checks in the amount of $1400. The downside is that some individuals who have unpaid debt might have those funds garnished.

A garnishment is when a creditor is legally authorized to take money out of a debtor’s bank account or paycheck in order to pay off the debt that is owed.

The first two stimulus checks were protected from being taken by private creditors, but this third stimulus payment is part of a ‘budget reconciliation,’ which means that debts such as state taxes and private loans can be taken under a garnishment.

If you owe federal taxes, the IRS won’t garnish your bank account, but if you owe state and/or local taxes, medical bills, credit card debt, and so on, there’s a good chance that your stimulus check will be intercepted.

Your third stimulus payment is at risk if you have unpaid debts that are owed to private lenders.

What can I do to prevent that? There are two main actions that you can take immediately:

1.) If your first two stimulus checks were directly deposited into your bank account, you can close your account to ensure that your third stimulus payment won’t be direct-deposited.

A direct deposit can be taken by your creditors if they garnish your bank account. However, if your bank account is closed, your stimulus check should come in the mail in the form of a check, and you can cash it at a check casher location or store.

The downside is that you’ll have to pay a fee to cash a check without a bank account, but at least you’ll have the cash in-hand to pay for necessities.

If you haven’t received your stimulus payment yet, you can track it on the IRS website. Go to this page and click on the blue button that says “Get My Payment,” and follow the prompts:

https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

2.) If you have unpaid debt, you could benefit from filing for bankruptcy. You could even use your stimulus check to cover the filing and attorney fees. What are the benefits of filing for a personal bankruptcy?

a.) It will protect your paychecks and bank account from being garnished by other creditors. If a creditor comes after your stimulus payment, then it’s highly likely that they’re going to come after your paychecks (if they haven’t already).

b.) You’ll be able to either get rid of your debts altogether (in a Chapter 7) or set up an affordable, interest-free repayment plan to pay some or all of your debts back (Chapter 13).

c.) If you have judgment liens against your property or you recently received a foreclosure notice, filing for bankruptcy could help you remove those liens and save your home from being taken by your mortgage lender.

How do I know if bankruptcy can help my specific situation?

Meet with an experienced local bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options. I offer free consultations if you want to see if bankruptcy can protect you. Now is a good time to file for bankruptcy, since you could use your stimulus payment or tax refunds to pay for the filing fees.

You can text or call me at (502) 435-2593, and I will personally respond and talk to you directly.

There’s no pressure to file. I’ll provide you with helpful information at no cost to you, and you can ultimately make the decision to do what you feel is best for you and your family.

If you’re ready for a fresh start, let’s talk. I’m here to help you!

Sincerely,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville KY Bankruptcy Lawyer

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

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5 Questions to Ask a Potential Bankruptcy Lawyer

5 Questions to Ask a Potential Bankruptcy Lawyer

By Tracy L. Hirsch

If you have bankruptcy questions, and are considering filing a petition, it’s important to have highly qualified legal representation.

Choosing to file for bankruptcy is an important decision, and you need someone who is on your side to help you navigate the filing process. That’s why it’s important to ‘interview’ any prospective attorney that you’re thinking of hiring in Louisville, KY.

If you’re unsure which questions you should ask, here is a list of the top five that will help you find the most qualified bankruptcy attorney.

Question #1: How many years have you been practicing bankruptcy law?

When hiring a bankruptcy attorney, it’s important to find out how long they’ve been practicing bankruptcy law. More often than not, the longer they’ve been practicing, the more experience they’re going to have. However, that’s only if they primarily file bankruptcy cases.

Even if someone has several years of experience as an attorney, it’s just as important to ask if bankruptcy is their main (or only) focus.

For example, an attorney may have 20 years of experience, but offer things such as wills and other legal services in addition to bankruptcy. If they’ve only filed 20 bankruptcy cases in 20 years’ time, that means that they don’t have a lot of experience specifically in bankruptcy law.

Why is this important? It’s important because in order to have a successful completion of your bankruptcy plan, you should only work with an attorney who knows every aspect of bankruptcy law (not just the basics). If they file at least 80 or more cases per year, chances are that they’re well-versed in bankruptcy.

They should be familiar with complex debt-related situations, and should be able to help you with judgment liens, foreclosures, reaffirmation agreements, tax issues, and more.

Question #2: Do you have cases that are similar to my situation?

Along the same lines as the first question, this helps you get a better idea of how well they can handle “outside-of-the-box” situations. Let’s say you’re facing foreclosure, have three judgment liens against your property, and are in the process of getting divorced and changing jobs.

That scenario contains a lot of variables, and you need a bankruptcy lawyer who is experienced handling cases that aren’t ‘cookie cutter’ and straightforward. The more experience they have with multiple complicated situations, the more likely they’ll be able to efficiently handle your case if it’s complicated as well.

Remember: Doing your research ahead of time will pay off in the long run.

Question #3: Will you be my main point-of-contact throughout the entire bankruptcy filing process?

This is probably the most important question that you can ask. If you’re wondering why, it’s because it’s very common for bankruptcy law firms to pass off most of the work to their paralegals or assistants.

This is less than ideal (and often dangerous) for multiple reasons, namely because a paralegal cannot give legal advice, and thus, should not be doing the majority of the work on your case. If a paralegal is giving you direct legal advice, that’s against the law.

Unfortunately, that’s a very common practice, which is why it’s imperative to ask any potential attorney if they will be the one doing all of the work on your case. You should specifically ask the attorney if they will be the one doing the intake and filing process.

Additionally, you should ask the attorney if you will be able to contact them directly if you have questions at any point during your bankruptcy plan.

It’s best not to assume that they’ll be part of every aspect of your case from beginning to end, so make sure you ask if they themselves (not an assistant) will be the one filing your case and submitting legal documents to the bankruptcy court.

Question #4: Which chapter of bankruptcy is best for me?

When it comes to filing for bankruptcy as an individual, you can file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy works best for people who are unable to pay back their debts, and need a fresh start in 90 days.

A Chapter 13 works best for people who make enough money to pay back at least part (and sometimes all) of their debt, but are unable to pay it back all at once. A Chapter 13 is a way to set up an interest-free repayment plan where you have up to five years to pay back your debts.

A Chapter 13 can also help you pay back tax debt and mortgage arrearages, and gives you the opportunity to renegotiate the APR on high-interest loans (your attorney can renegotiate on your behalf).

If you meet with an attorney for a consultation, he or she will assess your financial situation, such as your income, total debt owed, property value, and so on. Once they get a ‘big picture’ view, they can tell you which Chapter you qualify for.

Question #5: Do I have other options besides filing for bankruptcy?

After explaining your financial situation to a potential attorney, ask them for their honest feedback as to whether or not filing for bankruptcy is the best option for you.

A lawyer who has integrity will let you know if you don’t need to file for bankruptcy. If they’re really honest and upright, they will never encourage you to choose bankruptcy if it’s unnecessary or not the best fit for your situation.

As a bankruptcy lawyer in Louisville, Kentucky for the past 21 years, there have been numerous times where I told a potential client that they didn’t need to file for bankruptcy. Since I solely practice bankruptcy law, I am able to determine that during our free consultation.

Over the past two decades, I have handled both simple and complex cases, and everything in between. Additionally, I work with my clients every step of the way from beginning to end, and all official legal proceedings are done by me (not a legal assistant).

My clients have access to me seven days a week, and are able to call me and/or text me on my cell phone.

I file both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases regularly, and am ready to answer any questions that you may have! For a free case evaluation, you can text or call me at (502) 435-2593, or you can fill out our contact form below.

I look forward to speaking with you!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Lawyer

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!

Car Loan

The Importance of Car Insurance in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan

The Importance of Car Insurance in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

By Tracy L. Hirsch

If you have a car inside of your bankruptcy plan, car insurance isn’t optional.

If you’ve recently filed for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or are considering it, it’s important to know how to budget for monthly expenses.

If money is tight, it’s always good to cut out things that aren’t necessities, such as subscription accounts (Netflix, Spotify, etc.), as well as daily trips to the drive-thru at Starbucks.

While you’re purging those extras, you may be tempted to get rid of your car insurance too. You might be thinking that allowing a lapse in coverage for a couple of months (or even years) isn’t that big of a deal. I mean, it’ll save you tons of money, right?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is ‘no.’ While it may seem like you’re saving money by not paying for auto coverage, you’re actually putting yourself at risk of losing your main mode of transportation.

In other words, if you don’t pay for car insurance, you will be at risk for losing the car itself!

How is that possible?

The Risk of Losing Your Car

When you’re in an active Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Kentucky (or any other state), your car loan lender can repossess your car if you aren’t insuring that car.

The bankruptcy court requires debtors to have full-coverage auto insurance if money is owed on a car. (A full coverage insurance policy includes collision and comprehensive coverage.) If your car loan lender finds out that you don’t have full coverage, they can object to your bankruptcy plan.

Here’s what that means:

Your lender will basically tell the court that they (the lender) should have the right to take back the car since it’s not being protected through an insurance policy.

Bottom line: Don’t stop paying for your car insurance.

The lender’s argument is that if you were to get into an accident and damage or total the car, they would lose thousands of dollars since there’s no insurance to cover the damage, and the debtor doesn’t have any money to cover the damages from their own pocket.

If your car loan lender submits an objection to the court, the court will give you a 10-day grace period to obtain full auto coverage. If you don’t obtain that coverage within that timeframe, the court will provide relief to your car loan lender.

This means that your car is no longer protected as part of your Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan, and your lender can legally take your car from you.

The Consequences of Losing Your Car

It’s important to understand how losing your main mode of transportation could cause you to lose money in the long run. If you don’t have a car, you’ll have to use public transportation to get to work, school, and the grocery store.

While riding a bus may work out well for people who live in the city, your residential area may not be close to a bus line.

That means that you might not be able to get to work or your kids’ daycare, or to go out to get food, medication, and other necessities. If you’re unable to get to work, you’ll lose your paycheck, which could lead to losing your home if you don’t have enough money to pay your mortgage.

Without a job, you won’t be able to pay your other monthly bills either, such as food and utilities.

Depending on your situation, you could experience a negative domino effect if your car gets taken away from you. Look at this way: paying your monthly car insurance bill could protect you from disaster, and it will keep you in good standing with the bankruptcy court.

It’s a win-win, and is a vital component in successfully completing your Chapter 13 plan.

How to Set Yourself Up for Success

If you’re currently in a Chapter 13, and are having a hard time paying all of your monthly bills, contact your Louisville bankruptcy attorney immediately, as they can review your budget with you, and try to think of ways to help you stay on track.

If you’re currently at risk of losing your car, your home, or the money in your bank account due to a judgment lien or wage garnishment, there is hope! I offer free case evaluations, and will talk with you over the phone to see if bankruptcy is a good option for you.

I can be reached directly on my cell phone at (502) 435-2593. You can text or call me, and we can discuss your financial situation, and come up with solutions to get you on a path to financial freedom.

Just remember that bankruptcy is set up to help you, not harm you… And I’m here to help you too.

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Attorney

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

Need help immediately? Tap on the phone number to call!