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4 Achievable Financial Goals for 2023

4 Achievable Financial Goals for 2023

By Tracy L. Hirsch

If you’re looking for ways to spend less and save more this upcoming year, here are four goals that can be achieved over the next few weeks.


1.) Take inventory of what you have in your house, sell what you don’t use, and then put the money into your savings account. 


Do you have a treadmill that works perfectly fine, but is collecting dust in your basement? Do you have a cookware set that never came out of the original box? Do you have clothing items that you’ll never wear, but they still have the tags on them?


There are many places online to buy and sell new or gently used items, and if you have items in your home that you bought or received as a gift, but you never (or hardly) used them, you could make a few hundred extra dollars by selling them online. 


The money you make should go into your savings account, or it can be put into a separate fund to go toward a specific future need (such as saving up for a new kitchen appliance, a car, etc.). It’s good to do this every couple of months, as there are probably more unused items in your house than you’re aware of!


2.) Decrease how much you’re spending on monthly bills by getting rid of unused subscriptions.


While most people have streaming apps that they use regularly, such as Netflix and Spotify, many people have other monthly subscriptions that they don’t need or hardly even use.


For example, if you have monthly subscriptions for supplements, magazines, makeup samples, athletic wear, and the like, it’s important to assess if you actually use those things regularly.


If the supplements get thrown into a drawer every month, or you have numerous pairs of workout apparel that you haven’t worn, this is a perfect opportunity to take back your hard-earned money.


It’s easy to think that these subscriptions don’t make a large dent in your budget, but even if you have three subscriptions that you don’t use, and one is $25 a month, one is $15 a month, and the other is $10, that’s $50 a month that could be put toward things that you actually need — such as groceries, gas, and other necessities.

Remember: Saving money will help you reach your long-term financial goals a lot faster!

3.) Decrease how much you’re spending on utilities and insurance services by bundling.


If you pay for internet and cable in your home, call your provider to ask about bundling to save money. If they don’t offer that, look at other service providers to see if they can offer you a better deal.


Also, if you pay for car insurance, home insurance, and life insurance, most insurance companies offer bundling discounts. Again, if you ask your insurance company and they don’t offer a good deal, it’s beneficial to get quotes from other insurance companies to see if you can save.


Some insurance companies overcharge their customers, and they get away with it because they know that a fair amount of their customers won’t bother to price shop. While it can take some time, it’s definitely worth it if you can save a few hundred dollars a month!

4.) Analyze your spending habits when it comes to social spending.


Do you meet friends for dinner and drinks regularly? Do you go out for coffee and/or brunch every week? There’s nothing wrong with spending time with friends and family, and doing something fun — we need that in our lives! However, it’s important to set a budget for social outings, and to stick to it.


It’s easy to think that $5 for a latte, or $40 for dinner and a drink on a regular basis isn’t that big of a deal from a financial aspect, but those things add up way more quickly than most people realize.


If you use a debit card or credit card for those things, it’s a good idea to print out the past six statements (July 2022 to December 2022), and then highlight every charge that’s related to social outings.


Add up every charge for all six months, then divide by six, and you’ll see the average monthly amount that you spend on dinner, drinks, coffee, and so on.


If you’re struggling to pay all of your bills every month, and are living ‘paycheck to paycheck,’ there’s a good chance that you can find more wiggle room in your budget by cutting back on coffee trips and dinner dates.


For example, if you decide that moving forward, you’ll only spend $25 a week ($100 a month) on social outings, and you’re currently spending $75 a week ($300 a month), that will give you $200 extra dollars every month in 2023!


As you can see, taking a closer look at what you use, and how much you spend every month, can make a big difference when it comes to saving money. Finding ways to save money may take a little time, but the payoff is rewarding (literally and figuratively).


Here’s to a healthy, happy, and financially stable new year!


All the best,


Tracy L. Hirsch

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

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


3 Reasons to Hire a Bankruptcy Attorney Who Lives Locally

3 Reasons to Hire a Bankruptcy Attorney Who Lives Locally

By Tracy L. Hirsch

If you live in the Louisville metro area, is your prospective bankruptcy attorney a resident of Western Kentucky or Southern Indiana? If not, you may run into problems.

Early on in the pandemic, court hearings for bankruptcy filings were switched from in-person meetings at the Courthouse, to phone meetings and Zoom meetings. This has turned into a permanent change for the foreseeable future.

While this is certainly more convenient for local bankruptcy attorneys and debtors alike, this has now allowed out-of-state attorneys to advertise their services in Louisville and southern Indiana.

Some attorneys — who aren’t local residents — have opened up satellite offices nearby, and are doing long-distance filings over the phone.

While this in and of itself is not illegal or “wrong,” it has the potential to present several problems for local residents who hire these attorneys.

Here are the problems that working with an out-of-area attorney can cause, and the reasons you should choose a bankruptcy attorney who is a local resident just like you:

Hiring a locally-based bankruptcy attorney — and not a national, corporate attorney — will help you in the long-run.

1.) A local attorney knows the ins and outs of Kentucky and Indiana bankruptcy local rules. 

While federal bankruptcy laws apply to every individual who files in the U.S., there are additional rules for different states, and even for different districts within each state.

A bankruptcy lawyer who is based out of another state will not be as well-versed with each set of local rules that apply to the districts of southern Indiana, western Kentucky, and eastern Kentucky (in comparison to a locally-based attorney).

If you see a bankruptcy attorney with offices in multiple states, this means that they are not local to the Louisville metro area. Many of them have main offices in cities like Chicago, IL, and then have satellite offices in other cities and states, such as New Albany, IN and Louisville, KY.

The attorneys who run the satellite offices may or may not be well-versed in the local rules, and there isn’t really a way to know for sure ahead of time. Lack of familiarity can cause frustration for all individuals involved, which can easily be alleviated by hiring someone local to your area.

If you decide to file for bankruptcy, it’s vitally important for your attorney to know the bankruptcy rules for our local districts inside and out. If they don’t, this could lead to major issue in your case.

This leads us to our next point about why you should choose an attorney who is a local resident:


2.) You know who your attorney is ahead of time when choosing one who has been a long-time resident, and most of them have been practicing bankruptcy law in this region for many years.

When large, corporate, out-of-state law firms advertise in the Louisville Metro area, they may have a well-known face attached to them, but that well-known attorney won’t actually be your bankruptcy attorney. You’ll be assigned an attorney in a satellite office, and you usually can’t find out who it is ahead of time.

The problem this presents is that it impedes some of the research you may do beforehand to find out who will be the best fit for you.

Most local bankruptcy attorneys in western Kentucky and southern Indiana have their own websites where you can find information about each lawyer’s background, how long they’ve been practicing in the Louisville metro area, and so on.

With a large, out-of-state firm that has a satellite office in our area, there usually isn’t detailed information about the attorney who works for that office. Generally speaking, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t a qualified attorney, however, it’s hard to know their exact qualifications.

And once again, if they aren’t a local resident, they most like won’t have familiarity with local bankruptcy rules, which could possibly result in mistakes being made in your bankruptcy case.

Additionally, if there are complications in your case, you’ll need an attorney who has years of experience with the trustees and judges in this geographical area so that resolutions can be quick and painless.


3.) You have the option to meet with your local bankruptcy attorney in person.

While many corporate bankruptcy firms have satellite offices, it doesn’t guarantee that there are attorneys in those offices. Quite often, those offices are there just to establish a local branch where they receive mail, and they may only have a staff person working there.

It’s important to find out if your bankruptcy attorney is a local resident, as there are many instances where meeting in person with your attorney is much more advantageous than talking over the phone.

While there’s nothing wrong with phone consultations or even filing your case over the phone, having the option to have a personal, face-to-face conversation is ideal.

You never know when an issue may come up, where you need to review multiple documents with your attorney, or attend to a similar type of issue that requires looking at details in person.

As you can see, there are many advantages to hiring an attorney who has been practicing bankruptcy law in the greater Louisville area for many years.

I would encourage anyone who is considering bankruptcy to only book consultations with locally-based attorneys, as we work exclusively with residents in Kentucky and southern Indiana, and not in multiple states.

This leads to better outcomes for our clients, which is the ultimate goal — helping southern Indiana and Kentucky residents gets the fresh start that they deserve.

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

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

family bankruptcy louisville ky

Filing for Bankruptcy Was the Best Decision for My Family

Filing for Bankruptcy Was the Best Decision for My Family

By Attorney Tracy L. Hirsch

While the stigma and shame surrounding bankruptcy still exists, one woman is shedding light on the upsides of bankruptcy.

She shares her story of how it helped her and her young daughter get out of a dire financial situation.

In this article from businessinsider.com, Leah Campbell shares how unexpected medical debt was ruining her life.

She had always been financially responsible, but a devastating diagnosis (that led to surgery) left her with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

Then she became a single mom, and thought she would never financially recover. But thanks to solid advice from three different financial advisors, she decided to file for bankruptcy.

family bankruptcy louisville ky

While the decision was very difficult at first, she says that it was the best decision she could have made for her and her daughter.

This is an encouraging, true story of how she went from feeling hopeless, to hopeful and confident, all because she filed for bankruptcy.

She not only got rid of her debt, but she was also able to build up her credit scores into the 700s while her bankruptcy was still on her credit report!

Leah is now a successful writer and editor, and living her best life.

To read her full story, click here

Want to find out if bankruptcy can help you too? I'm Attorney Tracy Hirsch, and I'm here to help. Set up your free consultation today!

(502) 435-2593

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

student loan freeze

The Pause on Federal Student Loan Payments has been Extended Again

The Pause on Federal Student Loan Payments has been Extended Again

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Here’s the latest update on the ‘repayment freeze.’

For the past two years, finances have been a difficult topic for many. Millions of Americans had their hours cut, or lost their jobs altogether due to the pandemic.

Even though there were some financial relief actions put in place, such as stimulus checks, many Americans are carrying the heavy weight of debt.

For those who have federal students loans, the load was made lighter, as a freeze on student loan payments was put in place at the beginning of the pandemic, and is still in effect. This freeze allowed borrowers to stop making payments on their student loans.

Furthermore, their federal student loan balances did not accrue interest or penalties fees over the past two years, which means that the ‘freeze’ will not be counted against them.

Economists estimate that approximately $180 billion dollars in federal student loans have been put on hold over the past two years.

The freeze had been scheduled to end on May 1st, but the Biden administration has now extended it to August 31st. This means that federal student loan repayments don’ t have to start again until September of 2022.

President Biden made this statement last week, as he announced the extension:

“If [federal student] loan payments were to resume on schedule in May, analysis of recent data from the Federal Reserve suggests that millions of student loan borrowers would face significant economic hardship, and delinquencies and defaults could threaten Americans’ financial stability.” 

Federal student loan repayment is still being paused until the end of August 2022.

He stated that he believes the extended the freeze will benefit borrowers: “We are still recovering from the pandemic and the unprecedented economic disruption it caused…

That additional time will assist borrowers in achieving greater financial security, and support the Department of Education’s efforts to continue improving student loan programs.”

The Department of Education has stated that anyone who took part in the student loan repayment freeze will be in good standing when they resume their payments.

Additionally, borrowers will receive an invoice in the mail at least three weeks before their payment is due. If a borrower wants to resume auto payments, they will need to contact their lender to reinstate the automatic withdrawals.

People who have had a reduction in income may be concerned about no longer being able to afford their monthly student loan payments. If a borrower is in this situation, they can apply for a repayment plan that is based on their income and the size of their household.

While this may help financially, many families will still be struggling due to a reduction in income over the past two years. Some are behind on mortgage payments and car loans, while others have a high amount of credit card debt due to outstanding medical bills. Many families are struggling in both categories.

If this describes your situation, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy could help you get back on your feet.

It can consolidate your monthly credit card payments. medical bills, and other types of debt into one (lower) monthly payment, and can also help you protect your home and car. While federal student loans can’t currently be discharged in bankruptcy, they can be paid through the Chapter 13 repayment plan, which can keep you from defaulting on your loan.

If you qualify, you may be able to file a Chapter 7 to get rid of your credit card debt and medical debt completely, without having to do a repayment plan.

I’ve been a Louisville bankruptcy attorney for 22 years, and can let you know if bankruptcy will help your specific situation, and if so, which Chapter you qualify for. I offer free phone consultations 7 days a week, and those can be scheduled any time from 8 am to 8 pm.

If you’re ready for a fresh start, you can text or call me on my cell phone at (502) 435-2593, or fill out the contact form below.

Whether you want to catch up on your mortgage to prevent a foreclosure, or you want to get rid of crushing card debt (or both), filing a Kentucky bankruptcy could possibly be the best decision you can make for you and your family.

Don’t wait — you could be a few steps away from a debt-free life, and all it takes is a text or phone call to get started!

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!

kentucky apartments

Will I Be Able to Rent an Apartment After My Bankruptcy Discharge?

Will I Be Able to Rent an Apartment After My Bankruptcy Discharge?

By Tracy L. Hirsch

If you’re concerned about getting approved to rent an apartment while having a bankruptcy listed on your credit report, we have three tips that may help you secure a rental agreement.

If you filed a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Louisville, KY, and recently received a discharge from your bankruptcy plan, congratulations! You’re now on a path to financial stability where you have a fresh start.

Even though you’re enjoying your new-found freedom, you may have concerns about renting and leasing.

As you’re already aware, a bankruptcy filing stays on your credit report for several years (ten years for a Chapter 7, and seven years for a Chapter 13).

As a result, you may be worried about trying to rent an apartment since any potential landlord will want to run a credit check to see your payment history.

While it’s true that some landlords may initially be hesitant to rent to you if they see that you filed a Kentucky bankruptcy in the past few years, many of them will be will to rent to you if you do your homework upfront.

Here are five tips on how to secure an apartment after being discharged from your bankruptcy:

1.) Make sure you’re paying all of your bills on time and in full.

If you have monthly payment obligations (such as car payments), make sure that you’re paying those on time every single month, and also paying the full monthly payment amount.

For example, if your car payment is $275 a month, and it’s due on the 15th of every month, be sure to pay $275, and pay it a few days early (such as the 12th or 13th or every month).

If you were making your car payments on time while you were in your bankruptcy plan, and the landlord sees that you’re still making those car payments on time, it will show that you that you are responsible, and that you will most likely pay your rent on time.

Having late or missed payments on your credit report will be much more of a factor than having a bankruptcy on there.

Remember: Going above and beyond with your application could pay off in the long run.

2.) Be upfront and honest with a prospective landlord.

If you’re filling out a rental application, it’s important to let the landlord of the apartment complex know that you filed a bankruptcy, and have received a discharge.

Even though they’ll be able to see that for themselves on your credit report, it’s wise to let them know ahead of time (before they review your application), so that you can explain your situation.

Maybe you had a lot of medical debt from a car accident, or you lost your job and had to rely on credit cards, and as a result, needed to file for bankruptcy to get back on your feet financially.

If you can show that you’ve been making your payments on time, and explain that the bankruptcy helped you get through a tough time in your life, it’s more likely that they will see you as a person, and not just a name with a bankruptcy attached to it.

Also, be sure to emphasize that because of your bankruptcy, you no longer have any debt, and as a result, you have enough money to put toward rent. Since most people assume that bankruptcy is ‘bad’ (which is a myth), turning it into a positive can go a long way!

If you can explain that in person, it’s ideal, but if the landlord is unable to meet with you, be sure to write a well-written letter, and staple it to the top of your application (or add the letter as a PDF if you’re submitting your application electronically).

Additionally, tell your landlord upfront that you’re willing to pay first and last month’s rent in order to secure a rental agreement. This leads us to our next tip.

3.) Save up money for a security deposit.

To reassure your potential landlord that you will make your rental payments on time, let them know upfront (in person or in your letter) that you’re willing to pay your first and last month’s rent upfront as a security deposit.

This will prove to them that you’re serious about your rental agreement, and that you’ve prepared for it financially. When they see that you’re responsible, and that you’re willing to go the extra mile to prove that you’ll be a reliable tenant, you’ll be more likely to gain their trust, and thus secure a rental agreement.

4.) Attach copies of your pay stubs with your rental application.

In addition the above mentioned tips, it’s a good idea to attach your past six months of paystubs so that the landlord can see that you have steady income.

They’ll be more likely to offer you an apartment if they can see that you make enough to be able to afford rent, and that your income situation is stable.

5.) Provide reference letters with your application.

Providing references, from people who can attest to your upstanding character, will go a long way. Kindly ask your employer, church leader, and/or past landlords to write a reference letter for you, outlining the ways that you are responsible and reliable.

This will help bolster all of the other documents that you attach to your rental application.

Most landlords will be really impressed with all of the work that you did ahead of time, and will be willing to consider approving you for a rental agreement.

Again, going above and beyond to reassure them that your bankruptcy actually helped you get back on your feet, and providing documents to prove that, will increase your chances of landing an apartment that you love.

If you or someone you know needs to file for bankruptcy, but you (or they) have concerns, I’m here to reassure you that filing a bankruptcy will not permanently ruin your financial future.

I’ve been a Louisville bankruptcy attorney for 22 years, and am here to tell you that it’s possible to rebuild your credit fairly quickly after being discharged from bankruptcy.

To find out if bankruptcy is what you need to get back on your feet, I offer free phone consultations. You can text or call my cell phone at (502) 435-2593.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about bankruptcy, check out the main menu on our homepage to find the specific topics that you’re interested in.

Just remember, no matter what’s going on in your situation, there’s always hope!

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!

Tax pic 2021

Here’s How Filing Your Taxes Can Lead to a Debt-Free Life

Here's How Filing Your Taxes Can Lead to a Debt-Free Life

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Do you currently have more debt than you can pay back? Your tax refund might help you get rid of all of it, even if your tax refund doesn’t cover the total amount of debt. Here’s how.

The past two years have been incredibly difficult (to make an understatement). On top of navigating the pandemic, many people in Louisville, KY, and across the nation, had their hours cut or lost their jobs altogether.

If that happened to you, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans had a drastic reduction in income due to sickness and or job loss, and (understandably) they turned to credit cards to help keep them afloat financially.

While credit cards can be incredibly beneficial to get through a brief financial rough patch, they can cause stress when used long-term, since the minimum monthly payments can become too much to bear as the total balance continues to increase.

These past two years have put people between a rock and a hard place by presenting then with two difficult decisions — they either don’t pay their bills, and lose their home, car, and other assets, or they use credit cards to stay afloat, but get to a place where they can’t catch up in paying them back, and possibly still end up in a situation where their home goes into foreclosure or their car gets repossessed.

It’s incredibly heartbreaking, and often seems like there’s no hope.

I’m here to tell you that there’s hope, and it can start with your tax refund. You might be thinking, “My tax refund is only $1,800, and I have $20,000 of debt. How can my tax refund help when it’ll barely take care of 10% of my debt?”

That’s a great question. If you had a small amount of credit card debt, you could just directly pay it off with your tax refund, but if your refund is way smaller than your total debt balance, it probably still seems like you’re stuck. The good news is that you can use your tax refund to file for a personal bankruptcy to help you get a fresh start financially.

Now you may be thinking, “How is that good news? Won’t bankruptcy ruin my life?” That’s a valid question, and the straightforward answer is: No, bankruptcy won’t ruin your financial future. In fact, it can help you save your house and your car, while also permanently getting rid of your credit card debt!

And in regards to your future credit, once you complete your bankruptcy plan, you can rebuild your credit within two years, as long as you pay all of your bills on time (such as your mortgage, car payment, utilities, and so on),

Now you might be thinking, “Okay, that’s a relief to hear, but how does all of this tie into my tax refunds?” That’s another great question. When filing for bankruptcy, there are filing fees and attorney fees that have to paid upfront in order to officially file your case with the Court. If you don’t have any extra money right now, you can use your tax refund money to pay for those fees.

Overall, using your tax refund money to cover the cost of filing fees for your Kentucky bankruptcy is a smart move when you consider the multiple benefits of bankruptcy:

1.) Your creditors will stop contacting you. Once you file for bankruptcy, your creditors are not allowed to call you multiple times a day or send harassing letters in the mail, and they can’t take money out of your paycheck or bank account!

2.) You can protect your home and your car. If your home is in danger of foreclosure, or your car is going to be repossessed, bankruptcy can put a stop to that!

3.) You get to keep all of the money in your paychecks. If a creditor has sued you and has obtained the right to take 25% of each of your pay checks (called a “wage garnishment”), bankruptcy can put a stop to that too!

If you’d like to find out if bankruptcy would help your specific situation, I offer free phone consultations, and can often do same-day appointments for those phone calls.

With 22 years of experience as a Louisville bankruptcy attorney, I can help you determine whether or not bankruptcy can give you the financial freedom you’ve been looking for.

The best part is that you can reach me directly on my cell phone. To set up a free consultation, please call or text me at (502) 435-2593, or fill out the contact form below.

If you’re ready to get on a path to a debt-free life, your tax refund may be the first step in getting you there, and I’ll help you take care of the rest!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

*Disclaimer: This blog post is purely informational, and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have debt and want to learn more about your options, meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in Louisville, Kentucky to find out what would work best for you.

Ready to discuss your options? Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

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

app pic

Do you use Venmo, Paypal, or Cash App? If so, this is a must read.

Do you use Venmo, Paypal, or Cash App? If so, this is a must read.

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Payment apps are a convenient way to send and receive money between family and friends. Instead of mailing a check for your niece’s birthday, you can send money to her Venmo account in a matter of seconds.

If you paid the bill for dinner with a friend, your friend can pay back their portion without using literal cash or paper checks. Thanks to technology, ‘IOUs’ have become much easier to settle.

While these apps are great for personal use, there are a different set of rules if you use them to send or receive any type of payments related to a business. This includes “side hustles.”

Any money that is received for goods or services is considered taxable income, and regardless of whether you report it, the IRS will keep of track of how much you’re receiving through PayPal, Venmo, and/or Cash App.

How does that happen? As of the beginning of this year (January 1, 2022), payment app companies are now required to report income to the IRS.

This means that any commercial transactions (i.e., payments that you receive for goods or services that you provide) that come to a total of $600 or more during the year, are going to be reported (by the app companies) as taxable income.

Up until this point, payment app companies were only obligated to tell the IRS when an individual had more than 200 commercial transactions a year, and even then, the total amount had to be at least $20,000 or more.

This big change is part of the American Rescue Plan Act, and was signed into law due to a bill that was passed in March of 2021. The bill was a response to the changes that came about due to the pandemic.

On the IRS website, they explain how to report income that you receive from credit and debit card transactions, which includes mobile apps.

The new tax rules could affect the payments you receive through apps.

Now that the tax rules have changed, Venmo, Cash App, Paypal, and other payments apps have to “file and furnish” a 1099-K form for any individual who receives more than $600 in a year for business-related transactions.

Some people have been concerned about these changes since they use these payment apps to repay a friend who covered the cost of a meal, or to send birthday money to relatives.

Thankfully, this new tax law only applies to payments that are made for goods and services (not personal transactions). For example, if you operate a dog grooming business, and people pay you for your services through PayPal, Venmo, or Cash App, those charges are taxable income.

On the contrary, if your brother bought food for a family gathering, and you want to split the cost and pay for 50% of the food bill, you can send him a payment through one of those apps, and it won’t be considered taxable income for him.

You may be wondering how these payments apps will know the difference. PayPal and Venmo provide a way to distinguish whether a payment is a commercial payment or a personal payment. A user can choose between those two categories when sending a payment.

Additionally, the user can add a note as well, such as “reimbursement for groceries” or “reimbursement for dinner” to show that they are paying someone back for a personal expense.

All in all, the IRS is cracking down on tax evasion when it comes to ‘side hustles.’ If you are providing any type of goods or service (even if you’re not officially an LLC), you still have to report that as taxable income since it’s business-related.

Even if you use a payment platform that allows money to go directly into your checking account (such as Zelle), you are still required to report any commercial transactions to the IRS.

Zelle is not required to report to the IRS or provide a 1099-K form since they’re technically not an app (they’re part of online banking systems), but regardless, you have to report any business-related income that you receive through Zelle when you file your taxes.

So moving forward, be sure to select the proper payment category, and add a note to clarify whether the transaction is personal or commercial.

If your payments in PayPal, Cash App, and Venmo are always related to personal items, such as dinner and movies, you and your friends and family can rest assured that those payments won’t be taxed.

If this information has been helpful, please feel free to share the link to this article to spread the word!

All the best,

Attorney Tracy L. Hirsch

Do you have an overwhelming amount of debt? I can help! Fill out the form below, and I'll call you to discuss your options for relief.

(502) 435-2593

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house damage

5 Things You Should Do If Your Home Was Damaged by the Tornado in Kentucky

A Vital Checklist: 5 Things You Should Do If Your Home Was Damaged by the Tornado in Kentucky

By Attorney Tracy L. Hirsch

The recent tornado has brought devastation to many Kentucky families, and my heart goes out to them during this difficult time. If you’re one of the many people who have lost their home or have damage to their home, I am so sorry that you’re going through this.

I can only imagine the stress and heartache that you’re experiencing as you try to figure out what to do next.

Losing a home not only involves grieving the loss of your belongings, but also involves grieving the loss of memories. So be sure to show yourself grace and compassion during this time as you work through those emotions.

It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed by the thought of reporting the damage (and the subsequent paperwork that will be involved) when you’re working through the shock of what has happened.

I’ve put together a concise list that will hopefully help streamline that process, and reduce the stress on the technical side of things. If you’re a home owner and you have home owner’s insurance, it’s important to make a claim right away so that you can get the coverage that you need.

If you’re unsure how to approach it, here is a checklist that includes helpful tips and suggestions:

1.) If your house has been damaged, document the damage, and report it to your insurance company immediately. Take photos and videos of anything that needs to be repaired: your roof, broken pipes, water damage and mold, and anything else that was damaged by the tornado. Send the photos and videos to your homeowner’s insurance company.

Your insurance company will most likely need to come do an in-person inspection of all the damage, but with proper evidence and documentation, they may be able to expedite your claim.

To prevent further damage to your home in the meantime, you can make reasonable temporary repairs, but don’t make permanent repairs until you’ve been directed to do so by your insurance company.

Be sure to keep the receipts for items that you purchase in order to prevent further damage (i.e. purchasing a dehumidifier for a flooded basement in order to prevent mold, etc.).

Remember: When filing a claim, document everything!

2.) Find a reputable contractor to obtain an estimate of the damage. This could speed up the process if the insurance company is unable to do an inspection right away.

Providing them with photos, videos, and an estimate of what it would cost to repair the damage might even allow you to bypass the inspection altogether if the adjuster has enough details from the documentation that you send.

Please be aware of scams regarding storm damage repairs. Only use licensed and insured contractors, and be sure to check references. Also, don’t give a contractor any money upfront.

Your insurance company has to provide written consent to do the repairs, and when they do, you should get a written agreement from the them stating that they will reimburse you for the full amount that was quoted by the contractor.

Additionally, be sure to obtain a written contract/agreement from the contractor before the work starts.

As a side note, in regards to estimating damage, that may also include food that you will have to throw away due to power loss. If you don’t have electricity, and you have a freezer full of food, your insurance policy might cover that, so be sure to provide that inventory, and ask if that will be covered.

3.) When you file your insurance claim, be sure to ask about the A.L.E. The A.L.E. (aka ‘Additional Living Expense’) claim will provide coverage for temporary lodging (such as hotels and trailers) if your home is too damaged too live in, or if the entire structure is no longer there due to the tornado.

If you and your family don’t want to stay in a hotel, and you have an extended family member or friend who has offered to let you stay with them right now, some insurance carriers also provide funds that you can give to your generous host.

Those funds would be used by your family or friend to cover the extra cost of food, and the added expense on their electric bill and water bill (and any other utilities), since those costs will go up with additional people living in their home.

4.) Be sure to put all requests in writing. Whether it’s an email or a letter, be sure to send all requests to your insurance company in writing.

Even if you talk to an insurance adjuster over the phone, be sure to log that phone call (write down the date and time), and also send an email to the claims department summarizing what was discussed.

When you’re making a request to your insurance company, be very clear in what you’re asking for and what you need, and also explain why you need those things.

For example, if you have two deep freezers full of food that you lost, be sure to plainly state that you would like a reimbursement for the food since all of it is now spoiled, and provide them with photos and a total estimate of what that food was worth.

5.) If your insurance company is giving you a hard time, you have options. If your insurance company is refusing to cover things that are supposed to be covered under your current policy, be sure to ask to speak with a supervisor, or even a regional manager if necessary.

Don’t be afraid to go up the ‘chain of command’ if you’re not getting the help that you need.

Even though this is frustrating, try to remain calm, and kindly state that you are trying to work collaboratively with the adjuster, but are being denied coverage for damage that is included in your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Be sure to log these phone calls, and also send letters and/or emails stating the date and time that you called, the name of the person you spoke with, and why you called.

If you’re still not getting anywhere with your insurance company, you can call the Kentucky Department of Insurance. They are a government agency, and you can file a complaint. There are three ways that you can file a complaint (online submission, fax, or regular mail):

> You can fill out an online form electronically (which is the fastest, easiest way). Click here to get started.

> You can print out a paper form, fill it out by hand, and then fax it to (502) 564-6090. Click here to print the paper form. 

> If you would rather mail the paper form (instead of faxing it), send it to this address:

Kentucky Department of Insurance

Division of Consumer Protection

P.O. Box 517

Frankfort, KY 40602-0517

If you have questions, you can call them at (502) 564-6034, but please note that they do not take verbal complaints over the phone. All formal complaints must be in writing (via the online form or the paper form).


If your home has been damaged, but you’ve had a lapse in your insurance coverage, or your policy doesn’t cover all of the damage that has occurred, please know that there is still hope. If you’ve incurred a substantial amount of debt due to the tornado, there are ways to get help.

You may also be eligible for financial assistance from the government or from non-profit organizations depending on your financial needs.

If you try those options, and find out that you are not eligible, or that their assistance won’t cover all of your debt, bankruptcy might be a viable option to protect you from being sued by your creditors — and it would also help you discharge your debts to get a fresh start financially.

If you want to ask questions about any debt that you have as a result of the tornado, I can provide a free assessment to help you. You can text me or call me directly on my cell phone at (502) 435-2593. I am available 7 days a week from 8 am to 8 pm EST.

As you continue to work through this difficult time, please know that there are people who care, and who can help you. If you need emotional support, you can call or text ‘The Disaster Distress’ hotline at 1-800-985-5990, and you can click here to get more information from their website. 

Remember to take things one day at a time — you will get through this. Together, we are Kentucky strong.

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Kentucky Bankruptcy Attorney

Want to talk about your debt options? I'm ready to help you.

(502) 435-2593

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

personal loan louisville ky

4 Ways to Pay Off a Personal Loan Quickly

4 Ways to Pay Off a Personal Loan More Quickly

By Tracy L. Hirsch

If you have a personal loan or a credit card that you want to pay off quickly, here are four outside-of-the-box ways to do it!

If you’re making monthly payments on your credit card or personal loan, you may be thinking that there’s nothing that you can do to get the balance to $0 a little faster. While there are ways to pay it off sooner than you had planned, it’s important to understand the benefits of doing that.

First, you’ll pay less in interest, which in turn, allows you to put that hard-earned money toward household expenses. Second, when your balance goes down, that can help increase your credit scores by lowering your credit utilization ratio.

Choosing to make small changes to your repayment approach can help you get rid of your debt faster. Here are four unique ways to achieve that:

1.) Add a ‘booster’ payment. One way to ensure that you’ll pay off your loan faster is to make a second, smaller payment every month. For example, let’s say that you get paid every two weeks (on the 1st and 15th).

If your minimum amount due on your credit card is $250, and if it’s due on the 2nd day of every month, you could pay $250 on the 2nd day of the month, and then pay $50 on the 16th day of every month.

That way, you’re still technically making your monthly payment on the 2nd, but you’re adding a “booster” payment on the 16th. So instead of paying $250 total per month, you end up paying $300.

When paying an extra $50 a month, you’re making your balance $600 lower at the end of the first year, than it would be if you were only paying the minimum payment every month.

The booster payment can be helpful if money is tight between paychecks, and if you can only afford to pay the minimum payment at the beginning of the month (or whenever it’s due).

Remember: Paying off personal loans more quickly saves you lots of money on interest.

2.) Put any surprise cash toward your debt. Do you have an aunt who sends you a random check for $100 just because she loves you? Did you recently receive cash for your birthday? Do you get quarterly bonuses at work? If so, it’s good to put that extra money toward your debt.

While it may be tempting to spend it on clothing or electronics, unless you have an immediate need (like a car or home repair), those generous money gifts should be added to your ‘booster’ payment.

3.) Round up your minimum monthly payment. If doing booster payments seems too hard to remember, an alternative is to round up your monthly payment.

For example, if your minimum monthly payment is $249.76 a month, paying an even $300 will have the same effect as the booster payment. This way, you’re still paying more than the minimum, and this works well if you have extra wiggle room in your budget from your first bi-weekly paycheck.

4.) Refinance your loan or do a balance transfer. If you have good credit scores and a solid payment history (i.e., no late or missed payments), there’s a good chance that your lender might be willing to refinance your personal loan so that you can decrease your APR.

The downside is that the payback period may be extended (for example, you may go from a 36-month loan to a 48-month loan), so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before committing to refinancing.

If you have a credit card balance with a high APR, and your lender won’t negotiate to decrease it, you could transfer the balance to a new card that offers 0% interest for the first 12, 14, or 18 months. You should only do this if you know that you can pay off the total balance (or most of it) by the time the introductory period ends.

For example, if you have a $2,200 balance, and your APR is 24.99%, you’ll add on about $550 in interest over a year’s time.

So if you want to pay it off in 12 months, you would have to pay $183 a month plus $45 a month in interest, which is a total of $228 a month! If you transferred that balance, you would only have to pay $183 a month if your 0% introductory rate was 12 months or more.

Again, you’ll only get approved to open a new card to do a balance transfer if you have good credit and a solid payment history, so be sure to weigh those factors!

Do you have any additional tips on how to pay off a personal loan faster? If so, please share them in the comment section of our Facebook post!

If you have multiple personal loans and/or credit cards with high balances, and you’re struggling to pay the minimum monthly payments and are being sued by your creditors, filing for bankruptcy could help you. You might be able to pay back less than what you owe, plus stop any lawsuits.

If you’d like to learn more about this option, you can text me or call me on my cell phone at (502) 435-2593.

I offer free consultations to help you determine if bankruptcy can help you with your debt. Whether you’re able to pay back your personal loans on your own, or need protection through a bankruptcy plan, give yourself a gift this holiday season that you can’t put a price on — financial freedom!

All the best,

Tracy L. Hirsch

Louisville Bankruptcy Lawyer

Are you struggling to pay the minimum monthly payments on your credit card bills and personal loans? I can help you. Let's chat!

(502) 435-2593

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

bankruptcy mental health

3 Ways That Bankruptcy Can Improve Your Mental Health

3 Ways That Bankruptcy Can Improve Your Mental Health

By Tracy L. Hirsch

Debt not only affects your financial stability — it can negatively impact your emotional well-being too. Here’s how filing for bankruptcy can greatly improve your mental health and reduce your stress levels.

If you currently have an overwhelming amount of debt – to the point that it hinders you from being able to pay all of your monthly bills (car payment, mortgage, insurance, groceries, etc.) – chances are, you’re feeling depressed and anxious.

When you’re only able to pay the minimum due on your credit cards each month, and you’re basically just chipping away at the accrued interest (and haven’t even touched the actual balance), that causes an incredible amount of stress.

You may be thinking that your situation is hopeless, and that you’ll never be able to rid yourself of this overwhelming anxiety. If that’s how you’re feeling right now, I want you to know that I’m sorry you’re struggling.

I also want to tell you that I have some words of encouragement: Your situation isn’t hopeless, and you can achieve financial freedom without having to win the lottery.

How is that possible? You can lower your large monthly payments on your credit card bills and medical bills to make those payments much more affordable, or in certain cases, you can get rid of your debt altogether by filing for bankruptcy.

Now I’m assuming you’re thinking that what I just said isn’t very encouraging. You may be asking, “Isn’t filing for bankruptcy shameful? Won’t I permanently ruin my credit if I do that??”

As an experienced bankruptcy attorney who’s been in practice for 21 years, I’m here to tell you that the answers to those questions is a resounding “no.”

In spite of the myths, there’s no shame in filing for bankruptcy, as it’s a legitimate and legal way to obtain a fresh start and financial stability. It’s a right that has been given to every American – the right to be set free from the chains of overwhelming debt.

This right to file for bankruptcy not only gives you the option to make lower monthly payments (or to get rid of your debt altogether without making any payments), but it also protects your home, car, and the money in your bank account so that your creditors can’t take those things from you.

As you may already know, if you go months in a row without making payments on your credit card bills, medical bills, and so on, the creditors (the companies and/or banks who loaned you the money) can get permission from a local judge to take up to 25% of your paychecks, foreclose on your home, repossess your car, and more.

When that happens, it creates an unbearable amount of stress for the debtor. If you’re already struggling to pay that debt, having 25% of your paycheck taken every pay period and/or losing your car or house will make matters much worse!

If you’re currently in that position, filing for bankruptcy in Louisville, KY can potentially be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. It won’t permanently ruin your credit, and most people can rebuild their credit within two years after being discharged from bankruptcy.

Just as importantly, filing for bankruptcy can drastically improve your mental health by improving different areas of your life. Here are three ways that happens:

1.) Filing for bankruptcy can help you achieve your long-term financial goals. If you’re expanding your family and want to buy a bigger house, or you want to pursue your passion and go back to school, having a massive amount of debt will stop you from achieving those dreams since you aren’t able to save money.

If you file for bankruptcy, you’ll be given the opportunity to create lower monthly payments toward your debt, which will give you more room in your budget. If you have very low income, you might be eligible to get rid of your monthly debt payments altogether.

2.) Filing for bankruptcy improves your job performance. If you’re currently in a position where you can’t pay back your debts, or can’t even afford the minimum monthly payments, your creditors will start to call and send letters demanding a lump sum. They may even tell you that they’ll sue you in order to legally take away your house, car, and the money in your bank account or paycheck (called a ‘garnishment’).

If you’ve received a garnishment notice, you’re probably under a severe amount of stress knowing that your paychecks will be affected. When you file for bankruptcy in Kentucky, you are immediately protected by the ‘Automatic Stay,’ which means that your creditors have to stop harassing you with daily phone calls, and also stop the garnishment process.

Again, once you’ve filed, your creditors can no longer legally contact you, and they can’t take money from your paychecks.

If you’ve been afraid of answering your phone due to constant calls regarding your unpaid debt, and if your job performance is suffering as a result, filing for bankruptcy will solve that problem.

It’s important to avoid the domino effect that comes with constant harassment from your creditors: your job performance suffers, then you’re at risk of losing that job, which means losing your income.

If the phone calls stop, you’ll sleep better at night, you’ll feel less anxious, and you’ll be able to focus at work. Speaking of focus, there are other important things that you’ll be able to focus on too…

3.) Filing for bankruptcy will help you focus on your relationships. Did you know that one of the main reasons that married couples get into fights (and eventually divorce), is because of finances?

Whether it’s the stress of not being able to pay bills, or differing opinions on how to budget money, your relationships can suffer greatly when your mind is consumed by the stress that comes with massive amounts of debt.

If you feel sick from the stress, your relationships with your children, extended family, and friends will suffer too. In turn, that can have a domino effect where those around you start to feel depressed and anxious since they want to help, but feel powerless to do so.

Filing for bankruptcy lifts that weight off of your shoulder, and helps you focus on building healthy, happy, trusting relationships with your loved ones.

The bottom line? When you’re in over your head in regards to debt, and you file for bankruptcy, you’re making the decision to prioritize your mental health ~ and you can’t put a price on that.

If you want to find out if you qualify for a Louisville bankruptcy, and get advice about whether or not it could improve your situation, I’m here to help! I offer free consultations, either in person or over the phone.

The best part? You’ll be able to talk to me directly. You can text me or call me on my cell phone at (502) 435-2593.

Financial freedom could be right around the corner, and I’d love to help you get there.

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!