After your Massachusetts bankruptcy and debt collection burdens are behind you, it is time to take a hard look at your spending behaviors and consider how your view of money and finances may have changed after coming through the process. Although you can file more than one bankruptcy in a lifetime, it’s not something anyone wants to have to do again and it’s important to take a serious personal inventory about your hardship situation and how finances might have been treated differently.
Budgeting is important because it helps you control your spending. By tracking your expenses, you are going save more money and have greater peace of mind. Budgeting can help you make better financial decisions, prepare for emergencies, stay out of debt, and remain focused on your long-term financial goals.
When you finally receive your discharge or dismissal and have your fresh start, you may realize you’ve only reached the end of one set of challenges. Although you completed your credit counseling class as part of your Massachusetts bankruptcy requirements, there is more to finding financial peace and true financial freedom than boasting a high credit score.
Despite how much damage bankruptcy does to your credit, you can once again boast healthy finances in a non-traditional approach to money management.
Bankruptcy Counseling and Re-Education
Before filing bankruptcy in Massachusetts, you’re required to complete credit counseling. The Federal Trade Commission states that you must complete this credit counseling from a government-approved agency within 180 days of filing. You must also complete a debtor education course after filing in order for your debts to be discharged.
Credit Counseling is Required
Credit counseling is to help you evaluate your financial situation and ensure that bankruptcy is a last resort. Through counseling, you’ll be able determine if there’s a feasible way to handle your debts outside of bankruptcy without increasing what you owe.
Credit counseling is required even if it’s fairly clear that bankruptcy is your only option. So even if your debt is obviously higher than your income, you must meet this requirement when filing bankruptcy in Massachusetts.
How Much Does Credit Counseling Cost?
The approved credit counseling agency you use can charge a reasonable fee for their services. If you’re unable to afford that fee, they’re required to provide the counseling service for free or at a lowered rate. There’s a sliding scale fee structure, and they must waive the fee for those below the poverty level.
The Office of the U.S. Trustee oversees credit counseling agencies and the fees they charge. The average fee is around $50. In addition to the credit counseling fee, the debtor education course will be approximately $50-$100. This fee must also be reduced or waived based on the financial circumstances mentioned above.
Pre-Bankruptcy Filing: Credit Counseling Process
Credit counseling must be completed before filing for bankruptcy in Massachusetts or elsewhere. Your pre-bankruptcy credit counseling with your approved agency will include the following:
- A complete and thorough review of your personal finances.
- A conversation about the alternatives to filing bankruptcy.
- Creating a personalized budget plan.
A credit counseling session will last about an hour or so. It may be completed in person, online or over the telephone. Once you’ve completed your credit counseling course, the agency will grant you with a certificate. This certificate is what you’ll need to furnish in order to file bankruptcy.
Post-Bankruptcy Filing: Debtor Education Process
After you have filed for bankruptcy, you’ll be required to complete an approved course on debt. This course must be completed in order for your debts to be discharged. These instructional courses on consumer debt and financial management will include:
- Instructions on how to develop a budget.
- Education on how to use credit wisely and responsibly.
- Teaching you how to manage your money.
Debtor education courses take roughly two hours to complete. You may complete it in person, online or via telephone like the credit counseling sessions. You will receive another certificate as proof of completion. You’ll need to be present this certificate prior to your discharge.
Exceptions to the Credit Counseling Requirement
If the U.S. Trustee determines that there are no approved agencies in the area you’re filing, you might not have to complete the course. This is unlikely, however, since you can complete counseling online or over the phone.
You might also get out of this requirement if you can prove that you must file for bankruptcy in Jacksonville immediately. This could be the case if you need to avoid foreclosure or wage garnishment.
Other reasons you may be able to avoid the credit counseling requirement include:
- Not being able to receive counseling within five days of requesting services.
- Mental instability.
- Active duty in a combat zone.
A bad credit report can greatly limit your financial freedoms, restricting your access to loans and other opportunities. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to repair your credit and work your way back to a positive credit rating and report after filing for bankruptcy.
Contact Express Bankruptcy Solutions for legal guidance as you restore a beneficial credit score. Our Massachusetts debt collection defense and bankruptcy attorneys are devoted to helping clients overcome the debt problems, and can give you valuable guidance with budgeting, credit re-education and repair as you make your financial rebound after bankruptcy.
How to Repair Bad Credit
You can begin repairing your credit score at any time. Improvements are simply based on your financial activity, especially as you eliminate excessive debt and monitor spending. With an intimate understanding of financial law, our attorneys are equipped guide you through credit repair as a value added service no other firms offer.
The following steps can help you mend bad credit:
- Develop an effective budget
- Begin making regular payments to eliminate debt
- Eliminate inaccuracies in your credit report
- Avoid unnecessary applications for credit
As you work through this process, Express Bankruptcy Solutions can provide the counsel you need for an effective recovery. In addition to counsel, our legal team can protect you from unfair collection tactics. We can provide the aggressive litigation required to protect your rights against wage garnishment and harassing debt collection efforts during this difficult time.
Filing Bankruptcy in Massachusetts
If you’re underwater and bankruptcy feels like the only solution, contact the lawyers at Express Bankruptcy Solutions. To learn more about the budgeting, credit counseling and credit repair, filing bankruptcy, and the bankruptcy process in Massachusetts, call us today at (978) 851-4000.