Nearly half of all Americans aren't able to save up as much money as they should, often necessitating debt relief in Southern Colorado and elsewhere in the country.
This is according to a recent poll which found about 45 percent of people have less savings than credit card debt. Southern Colorado debt relief attorneys know that the economy is inching toward improvement, but many people are so deep in debt that they find it nearly impossible to claw their way out.
This most recent survey, from, Bankrate.com analyzed the spending habits of more than 1,000 adults, and looked at how much people have been able to save. What they found is that just 54 percent of U.S. consumers have more savings in case of an emergency than they do credit card debt. If and when an unplanned event or emergency happens, half the people in the country will be in serious financial trouble.
What's more, about 16 percent don't have any savings.
These figures represent about a 2 percent improvement over last year - not much to celebrate.
This kind of financial insecurity is harmful to the economy overall, experts say, because when people aren't able to save, they aren't likely to spend on more than what they need day to day. If they do, they are risking their own financial future, as having money stored away for an emergency can be critical in helping you avoid finding yourself crushed by debt.
Meanwhile, another survey found that Americans are having a hard time saving for retirement. In fact, almost half the country isn't saving enough to allow for a decent standard of living once they are no longer able to work. That survey also found that a third of Americans don't have enough to cover an unexpected doctor's visit or car repair. On average as a country, we're saving less than we used to.
Stephen Brobeck, the executive director of America Saves, said what this all collectively illustrates is that the recession has ended for a large number of families, particularly those in the lower income brackets. Working families are still struggling with a sagging housing market, sky-high unemployment rates and incomes that have stayed stagnant.
An experienced Colorado debt relief attorney can help.
One of the top reasons people avoid bankruptcy like the plague is that they fear the impact on their credit score.
Colorado Springs Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers won't sugarcoat it and say there will be no affect whatsoever. However it's worth noting that when you file for bankruptcy, the scoring algorithms are such that you are being compared in segments with others who have suffered similar financial blows.
And the fact is, many more people are filing for bankruptcy these days than ever before. Their reasons are varied, but mostly it boils down to enormous medical bills and student loan debt, the housing crisis and out-of-control credit card debt.
What a Chapter 7 bankruptcy does is wipe the slate clean. It erases your previous debt (with some exceptions) and allows you to start fresh again.
It's true, though, that a Chapter 7 will remain on your credit score for about 10 years. However, many people have found that this is not nearly as inhibiting as it sounds. You can still buy a house, get a car loan, etc. You may have higher interest rates and that will force you to keep your spending in check, but it won't cripple you.
If the idea of a Chapter 7 scares you, you can always explore a Chapter 13. This is an option whereby you structure a payment plan to your creditors to pay back a portion of what you owe in monthly installments. A Chapter 13 usually only remains on your credit report for 3 to 7 years after it's discharged.
Another option is debt negotiation or debt settlement. This is similar to a Chapter 13 in that it involves you paying a fraction of what you owe. However, it's not all encompassing and it doesn't necessarily involve all of your debts.
So let's say you owe $15,000 on a credit card. You hire an attorney to help you reach a debt settlement and end up with a bill for $4,000. Your credit may still be damaged, particularly if the debt has already gone to a debt collection agency, but it's generally easier to repair your credit than it is to claw yourself out of debt.
Grappling with tax debt in Colorado Springs can be stressful for anyone. The penalties and pressure that builds from having it hang over your head can be a roadblock in starting fresh in your financial future.
Our Colorado Springs tax debt relief attorneys can help. Bankruptcy may be an option, or you may need someone to assist you in negotiating payment plans or reductions with the IRS.
Some individuals, however, will do just about anything to get out of paying taxes. CNNMoney recently reported on some of the strangest tax evasion efforts ever. Odd as they may seem, multiple individuals have tried them - and been unsuccessful.
The first involves the use of 666, known as the "mark of the beast," in Christian religious text. One individual from Kentucky argued that he couldn't file his W-4 forms because his Social Security number contained this information. His new employer ultimately terminated him as a result. He sued for religious discrimination, but the lawsuit was tossed. Others have refused to file tax paperwork at all, saying that all Social Security numbers were essentially akin to this "mark."
Similarly, some people claim that paying taxes is against their religious beliefs. Not only has this argument not ever worked, but thousands of dollars in fines can be accrued as a result of trying to avoid paying.
Another creative tax evasion effort involves individuals who say they shouldn't have to pay federal taxes because they claim their state isn't actually part of the U.S. This has happened in both Texas and Indiana - and always, the argument falls on deaf ears. You can even be fined up to $25,000 for even making this argument.
Some individuals have taken it so far as to refer to themselves not as an actual person. They say that federal tax law pertains either solely to companies, or that they are not a "person" as defined under the constitution. These cases haven't been successful, and the IRS has taken many to court over these claims.
Other people have tried to make the case that only gold money is taxable. This just flat-out isn't going to fly with the IRS.
The bottom line is that while coping with Colorado Springs tax debt is tough for anyone, the best way to go about tackling it is to meet with an experienced debt relief attorney.
When medical bills stack up, the ensuing Colorado debt can seem insurmountable.
Our Colorado Springs debt relief attorneys understand that these snowballing bills can present severe financial challenges. Sometimes, individuals are forced to choose between paying a doctor bill and buying groceries. Often, they end up paying off medical bills using credit cards, which then force them to pay astronomical interest rates - which can also result in a seemingly unscalable hole of debt.
What you may not realize is that just because you owe a particular balance on a medical bill doesn't always mean that figure is concrete. In fact, you can often negotiate to lower those rates - especially when health care companies consider that the alternative is not getting paid whatsoever.
Individuals have reportedly cut some of their medical bills in half. Part of it involves your willingness to pay at least part of it upfront. For example, a $3,000 bill was reduced to a $1,500 bill when the patient agreed to pay that $1,500 upfront.
This is expected to be an increasing trend, as out-of-pocket costs for health care are climbing ever-higher. In fact, some 40 million Americans last year were enrolled in health care plans that mandated a $1,000 deductible for individuals and $2,000 for families - almost double what it was just a handful of years ago. It's no wonder medical debt is such a huge problem in this country.
One tactic is to directly ask the source. If you know that your insurance doesn't cover a procedure, or worse if you are totally uninsured, ask your doctor if he or she would be willing to have you pay whatever Medicare might reimburse them for. That might possibly take 30 to 40 percent off the price from the get-go. The "Health Care Blue Book" can help to give you a better idea of what health care providers are typically paid by insurance companies.
Another thing to consider is shopping around for health care services. Some places might provide the same procedure for far less.
You may also consider asking the doctor's billing office if they might be willing to cut some of the price if you pay it upfront.
Additionally, have an idea of the tests you might need and those you don't. Unnecessary blood work or other tests are sometimes ordered simply because that's part of procedure - but the costs add up. Talk to your doctor about whether such tests are actually necessary.
And of course, you always have the option to consult with a Colorado Springs debt relief attorney, who can assist you in negotiating especially high medical and credit card debts.
Colorado Springs debt relief attorneys know that when you're underwater in debt - mortgage, credit cards, medical bills and student loans - someone telling you that there actually is such a things as "good debt" would probably be given a murderous look.
However, when trying to set up a plan for Colorado Springs debt relief, it's important to note that there actually ARE situations in which debt is a positive thing.
Now, before you go racking up a ton of credit card purchases, you need to know that there is good debt - and there is very bad debt - and then there is REALLY bad debt.
First, let's look at the really bad. This is usually the kind of debt that piles up when you are spending more than you are bringing in. Our Colorado Springs bankruptcy attorneys know that in a lot of situations, that is simply beyond your control. For example, you were badly injured in a car accident or you lost your job or had to take a serious cut in pay. You may find yourself not even able to keep up with the minimum payments. In those situations, a Colorado Springs bankruptcy may be your best option.
Secondly, the bad debt is the kind of debt that stacks up because you are living outside of your means. Likely, you are purchasing luxury items that you really can't afford (vacations, a kitchen remodel). That means you are only able to make the minimum payment. The problem with this is that it ends up costing you way more in the long run, and if you hit one unexpected snag in the road (job loss, injury), you are in serious trouble.
Thirdly, the good debt. This is the kind of debt that is going to aid you in achieving a positive result in a set time frame. It's going to help you slowly increase your assets and your net worth. This is what financial advisers are going to tell you to go ahead and take on. One type of this is a mortgage (of course, assuming that it's actually worth what you're buying it for and that it has a favorable interest rate of 5 percent or lower). These are debts that are going to mean monthly payments that you will easily be able to afford. Other examples include car loans and school loans - assuming it's not a luxury sports car that you can't pay for or an education that is not going to mean much in the current economy.
But generally speaking, good debt can improve your credit score and your overall financial stability.
As our nation's economy continues to struggle to recover, it's obvious that bankruptcy in Colorado is helping people with debt relief as the numbers continue to rise for people who are unemployed, struggling with credit card debt or those hit hard with major medical bills.
Our Colorado Springs bankruptcy lawyers recognize that there is some misinformation out there about bankruptcy and that many people look down upon these consumer based laws. But we would point out that bankruptcy in Colorado Springs allows consumers to get a fresh start to their financial situation by eliminating debts.
Many people are struggling to get by without a job right now. In many cases, they are relying upon credit cards as a way to pay bills, while their income level drops. Late or missed payments can lead to hidden fees and higher interest rates, which keep consumers mired in debt.
But filing for bankruptcy is designed to benefit consumers who are in a bad position with their finances. These laws were designed with good people in mind. They were written so that consumers can get rid of debt and create a plan to move forward.
And more and more people are using bankruptcy laws as our country deals with the effects of the Great Recession.
In the third quarter of 2011, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute, more than 7,600 people in Colorado filed for bankruptcy protection. That was down slightly from the second quarter, when 8,714 people filed. But the number is on par with the spike in filings going back to the second quarter of 2009. Since then, more than 7,000 people have filed for bankruptcy protection in Colorado each quarter.
This shows that more and more people are considering bankruptcy in Colorado Springs and nationwide at a time when they want to put an end to the debt in their lives. This is a better solution than adding credit cards and hoping that the government turns its struggles around. Take matters into your own hands and use bankruptcy laws to your advantage in getting out of debt today.
If you are struggling with debt and need to speak with an experienced Colorado Springs bankruptcy lawyer, contact attorney Stephen H. Swift at 719-520-0164 for a free initial consultation.
Our Colorado Springs bankruptcy attorneysknow that one of the main culprits for out-of-control debt is the overgrown mountains of student loans.
Colorado Springs bankruptcies are on the rise as students are graduating with enormous loans and little opportunity for jobs that will help them pay it off. It begins a vicious cycle of debt.
So how can you help a new college graduate, hoping to avoid drowning as they wade into this murky economy? MSN Money touched on this issue recently, with an article detailing five do's and don'ts to helping out new graduates.
The first thing that new college graduates really need is health insurance. Hopefully, they are lucky enough to land a job that can provide this for them. However, oftentimes, even if they land a new gig, it may not be accompanied by full benefits. As of right now, parents are allowed to keep their children on their own health insurance plans until they reach the age of 26. This is important because if an unexpected medical issue arises, a graduate could quickly find themselves buried in debt.
Secondly, help them get a head start on retirement savings. Roth IRAs may be a good way to go, depending on how much you can afford to help. Having this available is going to mean a more secure future - and you'll know they'll be taken care of, even if you're not around.
Thirdly, make sure they are staying up-to-date with their student loans. They have to start paying within six months. If not, the penalties start piling up fast.
The two things you really want to avoid are co-signing for a car loan or co-signing for an unsecured credit card. With a car loan, if he or she misses a payment, you are automatically on the hook for it. What's more, that will dent your own credit. And with regard to an unsecured credit card, if he or she fails to pay up, again, you could be hounded by creditors, nagging you to pay up.
At the end of the day, you want to make sure that your new college graduate has the best start possible as they embark on his or her new career - but you shouldn't put yourself at risk of snowballing debt in the process.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Denver Post, respectively, Denver debt-relief attorneys are pleased to report that Colorado has seen its employment rate jump by 1 percent in the last month. In January alone, 19,500 people joined the workforce, bringing Colorado's non-farm employment numbers to their highest level in three years.
Construction, real estate and leisure -- all huge industries in Colorado -- have each also marked steady growth and resurgence. While such indicators show promise that the economy is slowly coming around, Colorado bankruptcy lawyers know this good news tells only part of the story. Far too many Colorado families are still struggling, and for them making ends meet is still more a dream than a reality.
Unemployment numbers across the state may be down, but that doesn't mean that landing a job -- especially for those who have been hit hardest by long-term unemployment and personal financial crisis -- is getting any easier. In part, the struggle to rejoin the workforce is made more challenging by job applicant screening process that excludes potential hires who have filed bankruptcy or who have poor credit scores.
Currently, seven states have moved to block employers from making hiring decisions based on an applicants' credit report. And now, USAToday reports that Colorado lawmakers are considering similar legislation. With that said, the Colorado Springs Independent has reported that the El Paso County Commission is now embroiled in an internal battle over the appointment of a board member to fill a vacant Retirement Plan seat after commissioners learned the appointee filed for bankruptcy nearly 18 years ago.
The question at the center of the debate: whether the personal financial history of citizen volunteers should be disclosed if the candidate in question will be overseeing county money? In this case, the appointee will be overseeing a $261 million fund.
Surviving a personal financial crisis is challenging enough without worrying about the lasting impact of the wrong financial decision. At the Law Office of Stephen H. Swift, our staff has the knowledge and experience to help your family make the right decisions to get back on a path to financial security.
In this second-half of a two-part series on dealing with personal debt, Colorado Springs debt-relief lawyers examine the federal guidelines for what constitutes debt collection "harassment" and offer tips for Colorado consumers dealing with seemingly unrelenting creditor calls.
According to the, a debt collector may not "harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt". Among other things, this means in an effort to collect a debt, a creditor may not:
~ threaten violence,
~ use profane or obscene language,
~ publish the names of consumers who have unpaid debts (except to a credit reporting agency),
~ use false, deceptive, or misleading information in an attempt to collect a debt, or
~ threaten action that is either not legally permitted or not intended to be pursued.
As reported by Investopedia, abusive debt collectors capitalize on consumer fear and ignorance, banking on the notion that the average debt holder doesn't realize they have considerable rights when it comes to how debts can be collected. With that in mind, the Federal Trade Commission arms consumers with one tool that can stop the constant calling -- the certified letter.
According to the FTC, if a consumer has communicated by phone with a debt collector and now wishes to cease contact, sending a 'cease-and-desist' letter – via certified mail, return receipt requested – is the first step to stopping contact.
Upon receipt, the FTC reports that a debt collector can only continue contact for two reasons:
~ to advise a consumer there will be no further contact, and,
~ to advise a consumer of creditor plans to take legal action.
While a consumer can still be sued for the balance of a debt, this step should at least stop contact.
For many families seeking Colorado debt relief, stopping harassing creditor calls is the first step on a path back to personal financial security. If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed by creditor calls, speaking with an experienced Colorado bankruptcy attorney can help you achieve debt relief.
For a free consultation, call (719) 520-0614.
As our Colorado debt-relief attorneys discussed in an earlier post to the Swift Law blog, whether a Colorado family has health insurance coverage or not, the ever-increasing cost of medical care continues to bankrupt families across the state and nationwide. In 2007 alone, crushing medical bill debt was tied to more than 60 percent of all personal bankruptcy filings in the United States.
With that said, the Colorado legislature is hoping to change this grim statistic. The Denver Business Journal reports that Senate Bill 134, also known as the "hospital charity-care bill", recently passed the Colorado Senate with an overwhelming majority vote of 28-6.
Bill sponsor, Sen. Irene Aguilar (D-Denver) -- who is also a practicing medical doctor -- told
Key points of include:
~ requiring hospitals to provide patients with clear and accessible information about their charity, financial aid, payment plan, and cash discount programs,
~ directing that hospitals turn to collection agencies only after all other options of medical bill debt collection have been exhausted, and
~ prohibiting hospitals from billing patients more than the lowest cost they bill insurance companies for the same procedure.
According to Colorado Public News, Colorado hospitals currently charge uninsured accounts nearly 400 percent of costs on average while a private insurer -- thanks to group bargaining -- is being billed at closer to 100-150 percent of costs for the same services.
Southern Colorado debt-relief lawyers with the Law Office of Stephen H. Swift understand that even hard-working Colorado families can find themselves overwhelmed by unmanageable (and often unexpected) medical bill debts.
Contact us today for more information and to schedule a free consultation