How to Plan for Bankruptcy

how to plan for bankruptcy

The novel coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic has caused a serious economic downturn—and one that may well turn out to be significantly worse than the Great Recession of 2007-2009 that hit with the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent collapse of many financial institutions. Given the spike in bankruptcy filings that occurred as result of the last major recession, the current pandemic-induced recession will undoubtedly result in a tsunami of bankruptcy filings. If you’re watching your financial situation deteriorate and think filing for bankruptcy may be necessary, this article provides guidance on how to plan for bankruptcy.

How the Current Recession is Unique and Devastating

current economic recession

Back in June a World Bank report spelled out how this recession is different from all others. It’s the first global recession every caused solely by a pandemic. The overall global economy is expected to shrink by 5.2% in 2020, which is the worst decline since WWII’s devastating impact on the global economy. It also hit faster and harder than any previous recession. For all intents and purposes, national economies literally shut down overnight in a wave that went all around the world. And in spite of everyone’s best efforts, there’s no end in sight until safe, effective vaccines or treatments become widely available.

For the US, the National Association for Business Economics sees a very slow recovery. Economists are saying that GDP (gross domestic product) won’t get back to its pre-COVID level until at least 2022 or even 2023, and same goes for job growth reaching pre-pandemic levels. In fact, many believe that as many as 40% of pandemic business closures will become permanent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment spiked up to 14.7% in April, and although it’s been falling since then down to 8.4% in July, there’s still a long way to go to get back to the 3.5% unemployment rate we had in February before the pandemic hit, and economists are saying it’s going to take years to fully recover.

Millions of people are hanging on by a thread and are only a matter of weeks away from resigning themselves to filing for bankruptcy. If you fall in this category, there are things you can do to plan for bankruptcy before you file, which we’ll outline below.

What You Can do to Plan for Bankruptcy

if you need to plan for bankruptcy

First and foremost, the best thing you can do to plan for bankruptcy is start looking around for a reputable bankruptcy attorney who can help you determine if bankruptcy is the right option for you, what type of bankruptcy you should file (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 in most cases), and what you’ll need to do file. See our previous article on Choosing a Bankruptcy Lawyer and be sure to check out our page of bankruptcy attorneys we trust in the greater San Diego area.

It’s also helpful to know some of the main differences between a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in order to decide which one is right for you, although again your bankruptcy attorney will help you figure out which option is better for you. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy (also called a “liquidation” or “straight” bankruptcy) is where any significant non-exempt assets are sold off to pay back some portion of your qualifying debts, and what remains is entirely wiped away when the bankruptcy is discharged. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the kind where your debts are reorganized and/or reduced so you can get caught up over the course of a 3-5 year court-approved repayment plan. Because many of the bankruptcies that will be filed as a result of the pandemic-induced recession involve reduced income because of losing a job, the Chapter 7 option will likely be the most common type of bankruptcy filed. But again, follow the advice of a qualified, reputable bankruptcy attorney to help you choose which type of filing is right for your specific situation.

Start Gathering a Mountain of Documentation

bankruptcy documents

When you decide to file for bankruptcy and choose a good attorney to help you, they’re going to need an extensive amount of information from you in order to determine which type of bankruptcy you should file. You can get a jump-start when you plan for bankruptcy by starting on the following list of items that will probably be asked of you in the bankruptcy attorney’s intake process:

Mortgage Information: You’ll need to provide details about each mortgage and home equity line or loan you hold and the relevant properties.

Bank Accounts: For each and every bank account you’ll need to provide specific information about the bank, the type of account (checking, savings, Christmas club, passbook), the account number and balance for each account.

Vehicles (to include cars, trucks, motorcycles and boats, etc.): You will need to describe all your vehicles, along with details on any financing you have on them.

Other Assets: You’ll have to make a list of any and all life insurance policies (term or whole life), along with cash value if any, as well as all Pensions, annuities, 401K plans, 403 B plans, and so on, with complete address and account numbers for each.

Taxes Owed: List all taxes owed to government, including the IRS, state, city or town

Court-Ordered Obligations: Collect all the details related to any child support, alimony, amounts and arrearages, and court ordered property settlements from a divorce, and any wages owed to employee(s) if applicable (name, address, account number of each person owed any such debt, type of debt and balance owed, when the debt was incurred, etc.).

Any and all bills and money owed to anyone: Omit nothing as all debts must be listed and identified, whether or not they end up being included as part of the bankruptcy.

Income Information: Your gross weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly income, a list of all deductions (taxes, insurances, 401k, union dues, etc.) withheld and purpose of said deductions broken down by pay period. Name and address of employer, position, and tenure of employment. If you are self-employed and file a schedule C on your federal income tax return, or if you receive a 1099 tax form as an independent contractor, you’ll need to provide a Profit and Loss Statement (income vs. expenses) by month for past twelve months, or equivalent documentation, as well as a copy of your schedule C and all 1099s received.

Monthly Expenditures: This is your detailed monthly budget including everything you spend money on such as rent/mortgage, insurance (home, vehicles, etc.), heating fuel, phone, cable, internet, food, dry cleaning, electricity, car insurance, uninsured medical expenses, clothing, recreation, charitable giving, transportation expenses (gas, vehicle maintenance, repairs, registration, etc.), and all monthly debt payments. It’s important to include ALL expenses!

And that’s just a sampling of the kinds of information you’ll need to have on hand and provide to your bankruptcy attorney so he or she can see which type of bankruptcy is right for you and then prepare your filing for submission to the bankruptcy court.

When Should You File Bankruptcy, and Can You Do it Yourself?

bankruptcy timing

A surprising number of people try to scrape by as best they can, sometimes for years, with seriously challenged credit before finally deciding to file for bankruptcy. Maybe it’s the stigma attached to filing bankruptcy that makes people turn to it only as a last resort when things get really desperate. Those months and years of stress can take a serious toll. The thing to keep in mind is that bankruptcy laws are intended to provide relief and give you a fresh start when your debts become unmanageable, often due to circumstances entirely beyond your control.

No one knew a global pandemic was coming, nor did most people foresee the severe economic consequences it would have on so many people who have lost their jobs. The direct relief payments from the federal government helped a little but now feel like a drop in the bucket. The extended unemployment benefits both in duration and amount certainly helped, but all that assistance has long expired, and it seems doubtful as to when or even if more aid will be forthcoming from Congress. If you’ve lost your job, have little to no savings, and no prospects to recover gainful employment in the near future, there is really no reason to wait, and no one in in their right mind would criticize you if you decide to file for bankruptcy. In fact, it might be the smartest decision you make in these uncertain times.

Then there’s also the question of whether you can or should try to handle filing your own bankruptcy. Yes, you are allowed to file bankruptcy on your own, without the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney. But it’s also clear that you may be better off with the help of an attorney. As the US courts website states:

Filing personal bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 takes careful preparation and understanding of legal issues. Misunderstandings of the law or making mistakes in the process can affect your rights.

In other words, unless you have a thorough understanding of both federal and state bankruptcy laws, including the rules of the local court where you would file, you should seek the assistance of a qualified, reputable bankruptcy attorney.

When You Need to Buy a Car During Bankruptcy

buying a car in bankruptcy

Something that happens far more often than you might think is this: You file for bankruptcy and soon after filing you discover you need to replace your car. What to do? You know your credit is bottoming out or you wouldn’t be filing for bankruptcy in the first place. The first thing you need to do is get on the phone with your bankruptcy attorney. Explain your situation and they will let you know if it’s a good idea for you to seek financing at that point in your bankruptcy process.

You might think it would be impossible for you to get any kind of car loan, but there are lenders who do have specific programs for people who need to finance a used car purchase while their bankruptcy is still open or after it has been discharged. At Day One Credit, we’ve spent years developing an extensive network of relationships with lenders who will work with bankruptcy customers. And you don’t have to wait to apply for financing through us. As soon as you have a Chapter 7 case number or a Chapter 13 approved payment plan and the written permission of your bankruptcy trustee, we can help you find the bankruptcy car loan that fits your situation. You can get started right away on seeking a bankruptcy car loan, find out more information on our Common Questions page, or give us a call at 855-475-4725 to find out more about your options!

The novel coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic has caused a serious economic downturn—and one that may well turn out to be significantly worse than the Great Recession of 2007-2009 that hit with the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent collapse of many financial institutions. Given the spike in bankruptcy filings that occurred as result … Continue reading “How to Plan for Bankruptcy”

Pandemic Impacts on Bankruptcy Filings and Car Loans

covid pandemic and bankruptcy

When the novel coronavirus outbreak and COVID-19 pandemic reached the US, it took a while before states were willing to put stay-home orders in place and force the closure of non-essential businesses, not to mention schools. But when the country did go into shut-down, it happened in what felt like the blink of an eye. From mid-March through the first week of June, more than 49 million people filed for unemployment benefits. The official unemployment rate in April was measured at 14.7% (source), which is significantly higher than the peak rate of 10% (source) that occurred during the Great Recession that hit in 2008. What does all this mean for bankruptcy filings and car loans? This article will explain the likely impacts and what you can do if you find yourself on the verge of bankruptcy in the coming months.

Bankruptcy Filings are a Lagging Economic Indicator

bankruptcy filings lagging indicator

At first glance, you might be surprised to learn that bankruptcy filings have gone down in the first couple months of the pandemic. During the month of March 2020, there were a grand total of 62,861 individual bankruptcy filings (source)—this was the lowest number of filings in the month of March for a full decade (! But then there were even fewer filings in April, which registered only 38,425 of new consumer bankruptcy filings, representing a nearly 39% decrease from the March figure, which was already low (source)! What gives? The answer, of course, is that bankruptcy filings are what economists call a “lagging indicator.” In other words, the impact of an economic downturn isn’t immediately seen in bankruptcy filings. For example, in the year the Great Recession hit in 2007-2008, bankruptcy filings did go up in 2008, and then increased greatly for the following two years (2009 and 2010). It wasn’t until 2011 that the rate of filing began falling. Based on this lagging nature of bankruptcy filings, we can safely assuming we haven’t even begun to see the impact yet. It’s just too early.

The Pandemic Recession is Different from Previous Recessions

pandemic recession is different

But the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic complicates this lag-time even further. It’s possible that there would have been a surge in filings in April, but many of the bankruptcy courts were closed much like everything else. Some did allow filings to proceed in an electronic fashion, but it still resulted in a greatly reduced capacity to accept filings, not to mention all the people who really can’t handle an approach that relies on technology.

Besides the reduced capacity of the courts to take on and process cases, there’s also another factor. Everyone notes how unprecedented this whole situation has been in terms of rapid shut-down of the economy and immediate huge waves of job losses. But it has also been unprecedented in terms of how quickly and comprehensively the federal government acted to help people. In addition to sending relief checks directly to many individuals, unemployment benefits were expanded both in the amount people receive and for how long they can receive it. Quite a few people are making more on unemployment right now than did when they were working. Because most people consider bankruptcy to be the absolute last resort, the financial assistance provided by the government may in fact be further delaying the inevitable wave of bankruptcy filings that is sure to come. It might just take a little longer for it to peak than it has in past recessions.

Is a Tsunami of Bankruptcy Filings Coming?

bankruptcy filings tsunami

We certainly hope there isn’t a tsunami of bankruptcy filings. Maybe the federal government will distribute more relief funds to individuals. Maybe it will also further extend unemployment benefits to help those who are struggling. Maybe it will also provide additional help to businesses in order to get more people back to work. But those are a lot of maybes.

One of the strongest correlations is between job loss and bankruptcy filings. Unemployment in the Great Recession peaked at 10% (source), and we’re already well beyond that during the pandemic. April unemployment was 14.7% (source). May unemployment, oddly enough, actually fell to 13.3% when everyone expected it to rise even further (source). There are good reasons to question the accuracy of these numbers (see this CNN article if you want to get into it), but suffice it to say that some experts are saying the unemployment figure for April was probably more like 19.2% and May was something more along the lines of 16.1% (source). Either way you look at it, the unemployment situation is the worst it’s been since the Great Depression! As one reporter put it, “The speed and magnitude of the loss defies comparison. It is roughly double what the nation experienced during the entire financial crisis from 2007 to 2009” (source). In this sense, many think it’s not a matter of if bankruptcy filings are going to go up but when they will go up. Still, we can hope it won’t be a tsunami.

The lag-time in bankruptcy filings is going to be longer than previous recessions for reasons stated earlier (government assistance and bankruptcy court closures), but there’s another one to add into the mix. Another strong correlation to bankruptcy filings is overall household debt-to-income ratio. You might recall that the Great Recession was also referred to as a “financial crisis.” Too many people were playing fast and loose with credit to consumers who should have never been approved in the first place (especially in the mortgage industry). Just before the crisis, the overall household debt-to-income ratio was at an all-time high of 1.24 whereas just before the pandemic it was only 0.95 (source). This means many households were generally in a healthier financial situation going into the current downturn. In other words, this is another factor that might contribute to a longer lag-time in seeing bankruptcy filings increase.

What to Do If You Need to Buy a Car in Bankruptcy

need a car in bankruptcy

It will take months, and maybe even years, before we know to what extent personal bankruptcy filings may increase. If they do rise, a lot of them will be people who have never filed bankruptcy before, among other firsts that people are experiencing thanks to the pandemic (such as filing to receive unemployment benefits). If they’re like most people, they will wait as long as possible. They will struggle for weeks and even months until they finally reach the breaking point and decide they should file. This whole process will leave them feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

Now imagine all the people who will go ahead and file for bankruptcy at some point in the coming months, only to then discover they need to replace their car. This will add even more stress and anxiety to an already difficult situation. Many will go to one or more dealers or lenders only to discover they aren’t willing to work with them because of their bankruptcy. Now they’ll be feeling downright desperate.

But this doesn’t have to be how any of this goes! At Day One Credit, we’ve established strong relationships with lenders who are willing to work with bankruptcy customers because we and they understand how bankruptcy is meant to be a fresh start to a better financial future. If you find yourself looking for the keys a fresh start in the coming months, please know that Day One Credit is here to explain all your options and guide you through the process of finding a bankruptcy car loan for your specific situation. You can get answers to common questions and apply online now!

When the novel coronavirus outbreak and COVID-19 pandemic reached the US, it took a while before states were willing to put stay-home orders in place and force the closure of non-essential businesses, not to mention schools. But when the country did go into shut-down, it happened in what felt like the blink of an eye. … Continue reading “Pandemic Impacts on Bankruptcy Filings and Car Loans”

Bankruptcy Car Loan Expectations: Keeping it Real

bankruptcy car loan expectations

If you find yourself needing a car when you’re in the middle of a bankruptcy, or even when you’ve had one recently discharged, finding a way to finance the purchase of a used car can become a major challenge. Many lenders won’t give you the time of day when they see the dreaded “B” word on your credit report. This can often mean you’ll need to seek alternative lenders to meet your financing needs, such as lenders who specifically work with bankruptcy car loans. But before you dip your toe into those waters, you should think about bankruptcy car loan expectations. While chances are fairly good you’ll be able to find what you need (especially if you work with the right experts), you’ll also want to have realistic bankruptcy car loan expectations.

Expectations About Lenders Working with Bankruptcy Customers

expectations with lenders

Lenders are in the business of making loans to people because they can make money doing it, but only if the loan recipient pays it all back and then some in interest charges. Each lender has to figure out how they’re going to assess the level of risk when making loans, which means they try to figure out who is most likely to make good on their loan commitment and making the monthly payments on it. Your credit score and credit history are the main tools available to lenders for making these kinds of decisions. Your credit report contains the facts of how responsible you’ve been with credit in the past and what kind of debt load you carry. If the lender sees too many “red flags,” then they will consider you too risky and deny your loan application.

Although your credit report reveals many aspects of your past behavior related to credit and debt, every lender is going to have their own standards about what they find to be an acceptable or unacceptable level of risk in potentially making a loan to you. Many lenders have decided that a credit score under a certain level or seeing a bankruptcy in your credit history are enough to disqualify you. These lenders are what you might call “risk-averse” because they want to ensure they’re going to get their money back with interest. To them, a bankruptcy means you’re more likely to default on a loan.

The Interest Rate Factor in Bankruptcy Car Loan Expectations

interest rates for bankruptcy car loans

When you’re looking to get a loan of any kind, one of the most basic things you want to know about is the interest rate or annual percentage rate (APR). This is important because it tells you how much you’re going to pay over the life of the loan for borrowing the money you need to make a purchase. Part of having realistic bankruptcy car loan expectations is understanding and accepting the fact that you will have a higher interest rate on your car loan that someone with great credit and no bankruptcy red flags on their credit history. But why is this the case?

As stated above, many lenders find bankruptcy customers too risky to work with. But there are lenders out there who are willing to make loans to bankruptcy customers. These are the lenders who understand that bankruptcy is a way to get yourself back on track financially, so they think of bankruptcy in a more positive way than risk-averse lenders. And yet they also recognize there really is more risk when lending to bankruptcy customers. In order to compensate for the increased risk they’re taking on by making a loan to you, they charge a higher interest rate. How much more is going to vary widely from lender to lender.

At Day One Credit we help find you a bankruptcy car loan by tapping into our strong network of multiple specialized lenders who are willing to work with bankruptcy customers. The median interest rate for such loans is around 18%. Is that significantly higher than used car loans for customers with great credit? Yes, it is, and it representative of the risk that lenders factor in when financing customers with open or recently discharged bankruptcies.

Expectations About the Car You Will Buy

right cars for bankruptcy

Another area where you will be better off with realistic bankruptcy car loan expectations is what kind of car you will buy. If you’re in the middle of a bankruptcy or recently had one discharged, you probably don’t have a ton of money lying around to put towards the purchase of a car. If somehow you do, then go for whatever you want. But if money is tight, you have to be smart about the kind of car you buy.

In our opinion and experience working with bankruptcy customers, you should keep yourself from dreaming about buying some kind of high-end luxury car. You probably can’t afford one. Besides the high price of the vehicle itself, everything else related to the car will also be more expensive. The insurance will be more expensive. Repairs and maintenance will be more expensive. Even the fuel you put in the gas tank could be more expensive if the vehicle requires premium-grade gasoline. If you’re trying to get back on track financially after bankruptcy, overcommitting yourself by trying to purchase a luxury car you can’t afford simply isn’t going to help you. And if money is tight and your credit has taken a major hit from bankruptcy, you probably won’t get approved for a loan large enough to even attempt purchasing a luxury car.

In fact, it is our opinion at Day One that you shouldn’t even try to buy a brand-new car. They’re more expensive just by being the most recent model, and then you take a really big hit on depreciation as soon as you drive a new car off the lot. The car’s value will drop by 15%–20% in the first year and for several more years, which means you’ll probably be “underwater” on the car for years, meaning you owe more on the car loan than the car is worth. This is not the position you want to be in with a bankruptcy on your credit report.

But we also don’t recommend buying an old used clunker. Those kinds of cars can also end up costing you more than they’re worth because of the constant stream of expensive repairs they often require to keep them running. What we do recommend is a late-model (less than five years old) used car in great condition with lower mileage. This is the kind of car that gives you the most bang for your buck. It will serve you well for good long time and won’t likely need a lot of repairs in the near future. Please read more about best car choices for bankruptcy car loans.

Here at Day One Credit, we take the time to understand what you need in a vehicle and what resources you have available for making a purchase. Our goal is to find you an excellent used car that you can really afford, and find you the right bankruptcy loan from our network of lenders so you can buy it. We call that a win-win scenario!

The Credit Repair Aspect of Bankruptcy Car Loan Expectations

credit repair expectations

Part of why a bankruptcy car loan may be a good idea for you is the role it can play in repairing and restoring your credit during and after bankruptcy. But once again, it’s best to have realistic expectations about this.

When you’re in the midst of a bankruptcy, as well as after having one discharged, your credit score is probably quite low—possibly the lowest it’s ever been depending on how it declined in the period of time leading up to your bankruptcy filing. Here’s the catch-22 of fixing your credit: You have to prove to the credit bureaus you can handle credit responsibly at a time when you likely have a lot less credit available to you, or none at all. You need to get some new credit to show you can use it responsibly, but this can be a major challenge given how many lenders simply won’t work with bankruptcy customers as previously described. This is when a bankruptcy car loan from the right lender can help put you on the path of showing a whole new you with new credit and responsible behaviors.

But it’s not a magic pill that will automatically make everything better. The bankruptcy “red flag” is going to remain on your credit report at least seven years. The bankruptcy car loan can help your credit score move in an upward direction, but only if you are very careful to make every monthly payment on time. This is part of why we emphasize making sure you buy a car you can really afford. Late or missed payments will only further reduce the credit score you’re trying to raise! Making those on-time payments every month is the key to seeing your score begin to move in the right direction.

The Day One Credit Approach to Bankruptcy Car Loan Expectations

bankruptcy lawyers we recommend

Our approach to bankruptcy car loan expectations at Day One is simple: We want to help you get the car you need with a loan that’s going to work as well as possible for you. But we can’t work with everyone. Listed below are the eligibility requirements we need to see before we can try to help you find a bankruptcy car loan:

Income: We want to see a minimum gross monthly of income of $2,200 per month as shown on either your employer’s W-2 forms or 1099 forms if you’re self-employed.

Bankruptcy Status: To be eligible for a bankruptcy car loan, you must have already filed your bankruptcy or had it recently discharged. We just need to see your case number (Chapter 7), approved payment plan (Chapter 13), or your discharge.

Valid Driver’s License: Your driver’s license must be up-to-date and not suspended or you won’t be able to register a vehicle at all to begin with.

And we’ve also made the whole process as fast and as convenient as possible for you, including the following features and benefits:

Little or no money down: It’s always better for you if you can make as much of a down payment as possible, but if you can’t, that’s okay too. Day One can find most customers bankruptcy car loans that don’t require any down payment at all.

No need to wait: You don’t have to wait until your bankruptcy is finalized or discharged. You can apply as soon as you have your initial bankruptcy papers or a case number. Note, however, that in a Chapter 13 you will also need written approval from your trustee to take on a new loan.

Great cars available: The same vehicles available to everyone else are also available to you. We strongly recommend a late-model used car in great condition with low mileage that you can afford without stretching your budget.

VIP treatment: Unlike the lenders who look down their noses at you when they see a bankruptcy on your credit report, we give you the VIP treatment we think everyone deserves, regardless of their credit history. We’ll give you our full attention and show you the same courtesy and respect we would show anyone.

Ready to learn more? Check out our common questions page, get in touch through the contact us page of our website, or give us a call directly at 855-475-4725. You can also go ahead and get started by applying online now!

If you find yourself needing a car when you’re in the middle of a bankruptcy, or even when you’ve had one recently discharged, finding a way to finance the purchase of a used car can become a major challenge. Many lenders won’t give you the time of day when they see the dreaded “B” word … Continue reading “Bankruptcy Car Loan Expectations: Keeping it Real”

Bankruptcy Statistics: Understanding Bankruptcy by the Numbers

Consumer Bankruptcy Statistics

It’s true that the longest post-recession economic recovery is still underway in the history of the US. But there are signs that the economy is beginning to slow, and when that happens there will no doubt be an uptick in the number of people who file for bankruptcy. Understanding how bankruptcy statistics have changed and what those statistics mean helps put bankruptcy in perspective for anyone who has or might soon find themselves needing to file.

Bankruptcies Rise for the First Time in Nearly a Decade

bankruptcies are on the rise

The number of bankruptcy filings have fallen every year since the Great Recession peak in 2010. According to the latest data from the US Federal Courts, bankruptcy filings for the 12-month period ending September 30, 2019 increased 0.4% to 776,674 compared to 773,375 at the same point in 2018. But to get a better sense of what’s been happening in the big picture of bankruptcy filings, you have to step back and look at bankruptcy statistics over time.

Big Changes in Bankruptcy Statistics Over Time

over time bankruptcy trends

The most obvious statistic to look is the total number of bankruptcy filings each year, as assembled from data collected by the US Federal Courts. Here’s one to get us started:

consumer bankruptcy statistics over time

The above chart is a good one to show how a sharp economic downturn can drive up bankruptcy filings. The Great Recession hit in in 2008, so bankruptcies went up sharply that year and the two following years (2009 and 2010). Then the economic recovery got underway, and has continued to be the strongest, longest in US history. But you can also see that the rate of decrease in bankruptcy filings has slowed and leveled off.

Does this mean we’re on the edge of a new recession? Another downturn is inevitable at some point, and the Federal Reserve has been desperately reducing interest rates in an effort to hold it off (three decreases this year alone after it had raised interest rates four times last year). This relationship between bankruptcy filings and the general economy is best illustrated by taking a look at how unemployment rates changed over roughly the same period of time (2007-2018):

unemployment statistics

And the unemployment rate has fallen even further since this graph, all the way down to 3.5% in September. Although it’s a line graph instead of a bar graph, you can see how closely the general “shape” of the curve in both charts is basically the same. Clearly, losing a job is a main driver that causes many people to seek relief from bankruptcy laws. But it’s also helpful to take a broader look at these bankruptcy statistics over time, such as the chart below showing business and personal bankruptcy filings since 1987:

bankruptcy filings by the numbers

The above graph raises the question of what in the world happened in 2005 to cause such as huge spike in bankruptcy filings. As it turns out, 2005 is the year when major changes were made to US bankruptcy laws. The changes were pushed hard by the credit industry and were all geared towards making it harder and more expensive for people to file bankruptcy.

The spike in 2005 can largely be attributed, in our opinion,  to people and businesses who decided to go ahead and file before the changes took effect. This is very revealing because it indicates many people are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy at any given moment. One small thing could push them over the edge such as an unexpected medical expense or home repair not covered by insurance or, in this case, knowing that the laws were about to change. In other words, there are literally millions of people and businesses who could file bankruptcy at any time but don’t for a variety of reasons, such as the stigma associated with it. After all, no one wants to admit financial failure, even when it’s not because of anything they did wrong. The rise in bankruptcy filings over the several years prior to 2005 can probably be attributed to the Dot-Com Crash.

What happens if we back up even further, though, by really zooming out to get the biggest picture possible? If you look at bankruptcy filing data from 1900,  it clear that declaring bankruptcy has been on the steady rise pretty much from the beginning, and have skyrocketed dramatically since 1980. The biggest driver of this trend could be described, in our opinion,  as “easy credit from greedy creditors.” The revolving lines of credit available to consumers through credit cards didn’t really hit the scene until the last 40 years. Back in 1970 only 16% of households had a credit card – a figure which is over 70% today.

When creditors start playing fast and loose with credit to consumers, things can end up getting out of hand. This is what happened in the Great Recession, largely driven by the housing market where lenders were handing out mortgages like candy – mortgages that simply weren’t sustainable for many consumers.

Other Important Bankruptcy Statistics

important bankruptcy data

While the big-picture bankruptcy statistics of annual filings does give a lot of insight into why things are the way they are today, there are a variety of other figures worth knowing, including the following:

67.5%: The percentage of personal bankruptcies caused by medical bills (source).

204%: The percentage increase in rate of bankruptcy filings of those aged 65+ over 25 years (source). This figure is especially concerning because 10,000 Baby Boomers will continue retiring every day through 2021.

60%: The percentage of people who spend all or more than they earn (source). The problem pointed out by this statistic is that people are not actively saving if they’re spending all or more of their income, which means they have no emergency cushion when something goes wrong, which could trigger a bankruptcy filing.

66%: The percentage of people who would have trouble scrounging up $1,000 in an emergency (source). Like the previous statistic, this one just goes to show how vulnerable to “income shocks” people are. It doesn’t take much to drive people on the edge into bankruptcy.

24%: The percentage of Millennials who demonstrate basic financial literacy. Ouch.

This article has presented our opinion on the debt problems of Americans by taking a look at bankruptcy statistics and related numbers. If you’re in the midst of a bankruptcy filing or recently had one discharged and find you’re in need of financing a car purchase, there are options available to you. Day One Credit works with a network of  lenders who have special programs specifically geared towards helping bankruptcy filers get the car they need. Rather than viewing your bankruptcy as some kind of failure, we see it as taking a positive step to getting your financial life back in order and moving forward. A bankruptcy car loan is one way for you to immediately begin rebuilding damaged credit. Learn more in our Bankruptcy Car Loan Guide or get started today with our online application!

It’s true that the longest post-recession economic recovery is still underway in the history of the US. But there are signs that the economy is beginning to slow, and when that happens there will no doubt be an uptick in the number of people who file for bankruptcy. Understanding how bankruptcy statistics have changed and … Continue reading “Bankruptcy Statistics: Understanding Bankruptcy by the Numbers”

Top 7 Reasons People Declare Bankruptcy

top reasons for bankruptcy

Last year 750,489 individuals filed for bankruptcy. This is a number that has thankfully been going down year after year as the Great Recession becomes an increasingly distant yet still very painful memory for so many people. But it does beg the question – what are the main reasons that lead people to declare bankruptcy? It’s not an easy decision to make because it does impact your credit history and score for years afterwards. For many, it is only done as an absolute, final resort when they’ve hit rock-bottom, which is never a good place to be. But knowing what it is that forces people to file bankruptcy can help anyone be more vigilant and hopefully avoid it themselves. Here are the top 7 reasons people declare bankruptcy:

Reason #1. Debt Collection Litigation

debt collection litigation

If you’ve ever seen other lists about the reasons people declare bankruptcy, you might have expected to see something like medical bills as the number one cause. But you have to dig a little deeper to really figure out what’s going on with bankruptcy filings. For example, you could have one and only one reason on the list – too much debt, right? What people want to know is more about the kinds of debts that make people file bankruptcy. In a way, “too much debt” just the big picture of the issue. What is it that actually triggers people to file? Most people have multiple kinds of debt, so what is it that suddenly makes their debts unmanageable? When you take a closer look, for many it is when a lawsuit is filed against them by one or more debts. That often ends up being the proverbial last straw that makes them realize they need to file bankruptcy.

The way this usually plays out is that a specific consumer debt is sold at a deep discount to a “debt buyer” who then aggressively pursues collection of the debt because they will make a handsome profit if they can collect even a portion of it (because they paid so little to take over the debt). These debt buyers often resort to litigation if their pestering debt collection efforts aren’t working.

Debt buyers file millions of lawsuits against consumers every year in their attempts to make a profit on the financial misfortunes of consumers. One study of this phenomenon, A Study of the Causes of Consumer Bankruptcy, found that for 78% of bankruptcy filers, it wasn’t about the amount of debt or all the debt collection calls they were getting, it was when debt collection litigation was started against them that made them declare bankruptcy. This is why many people argue that the most effective way to help prevent consumers from feeling like they have to file bankruptcy would be abatement of debt collection litigation.

The impact of all this debt collection litigation is huge. When a person has a debt collection lawsuit/judgement listed on their credit report, it can hurt their chances of getting a job. Background checks in the hiring process these days often include a credit check, and people with a debt collection lawsuit/judgement on their credit history is reason enough for many HR managers to not make the hire.

Reason #2. Medical Bills

medical bills

Having identified the biggest of the reasons people declare bankruptcy, it is also true that one of the specific kinds of debt that triggers people to file is when they suddenly find themselves saddled with huge medical bills they weren’t expecting. Although there hasn’t been any recent research on this one, the classic study cited for it is one by Harvard University that found more than 60% of bankruptcy filings were driven by medical expenses in 2007, as opposed to only 46.2% in 2001.

The unfortunate way this scenario tends to run is that an unexpected medical incident prevents a person from working. When they lose their job, they lose their employer-provided health insurance coverage. That double-whammy of losing a job and losing health insurance is what forces many to declare bankruptcy in the face of huge medical bills.

The twist on this one that’s becoming increasingly apparent in recent years is the mounting number of older people who are filing bankruptcy:

“The rate at which Americans at least 75 years old filed for bankruptcy more than tripled from 1991 to 2016, while filings among those between 65 and 74 ballooned more than 200 percent, according to a recent study from a group of professors working with data from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project… More than 62 percent of respondents also indicated medical expenses were ‘a catalyst for bankruptcy.’ And 4 in 10 respondents indicated missing work for medical reasons was a primary factor in their decision to seek bankruptcy protections. (source).”

A more recent investigation into medical-related bankruptcies found that not much has changed even though the Affordable Care Act (Obama-care) helped a lot more people get health insurance. The same high percentage of bankruptcy filers are reporting medical expenses as a main cause for declaring bankruptcy (source).

Given the out-of-control cost of healthcare today, it’s not at all surprising that medical bills are among the major reasons people declare bankruptcy, or that it’s especially a problem for the growing number of retired people as the Baby Boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,000 every day!

Reason #3. Loss or Reduction of Employment

employment

People who are just managing to get by with their debts based on their current job income can find themselves turning to bankruptcy if they lose their job. The phrase “one paycheck away from bankruptcy” rings true for all too many people. With the sudden reduction in their income from being laid off or let go, often with little in the way of emergency savings, declaring bankruptcy becomes the only way to keep creditors at bay and reduce or eliminate their worst debts.

As you might expect, the rise in unemployment from the Great Recession caused a huge spike in bankruptcy filings, with 1.53 million individuals filing bankruptcy in 2010. That was the peak, and that number has come down by half since then. But plenty of people are still at risk in spite of the longest post-recession economic recovery in history. After all, it’s only a matter of when, not if the next recession occurs.

Reason #4. Divorce or Separation

divorce

Most people underestimate the financial impact that happens when two people who were previously a single household become two separate households because of separation and/or divorce. There are legal fees to be paid for a divorce, which can be substantial if it is a contentious divorce involving a lot of litigation and the expensive attorney fees that go with it.

But the legal fees are the just the beginning. Each newly separate party now becomes responsible for all their own household expenses without the benefit of a second income. Add on alimony and child support payments and either party can find themselves really hurting financially. It’s also important to know that alimony and child support debt are not covered by bankruptcy, so people are still on the hook for those debts even when they file bankruptcy.

Reason #5. Excessive Credit Card Debt

credit card debt

Most people have some amount of credit card debt. Credit standards before the Great Recession had become very loose, which meant it was easy to get multiple credit cards with surprisingly high lines of available credit. Yes, some people are just not good about using credit. They rack up of a ton of credit card debt without thinking of the consequences until it’s too late. For others, however, the accumulation of credit card debt was a way of dealing with one of the other items on this list – losing a job, having unexpected medical expenses, going through a divorce, and so on. They were able to make ends meet for a time by playing the credit card game, but it’s not a strategy that can be sustained for long.

The good news is that unsecured credit card debt is among the easiest to reduce or entirely eliminate through the bankruptcy process. Filing for bankruptcy in these cases is often the best way to get your financial life back on track and heading in a better direction. It’s also worth noting that a lot of people try to avoid filing bankruptcy by getting into some kind of debt consolidation plan, of which there are no shortage available. But those plans often end up failing and only delaying the inevitable. If one of the root causes of your financial situation is poor budgeting and the inability to control spending, then a debt consolidation plan simply isn’t going to work over the long haul.

Reason #6. Unexpected Expenses (Disasters, Theft, Accidents)

unexpected expenses

This one is all about the sudden and unexpected loss of property that you have to replace. In many cases, this has to do with losing a home entirely or having a home severely damaged in some kind of disaster. This is another instance where insurance comes into play. Most home insurance policies do not cover some kinds of disasters. Floods and earthquakes are the two most common disasters not covered by home insurance. But you need to read your home insurance policy carefully to find out about other kinds of disasters that probably aren’t covered, such as nuclear accidents, landslides, mudslides, sinkholes and so on.

As you can imagine, it’s not just the expense of repairing or replacing your home, but also many or all of your personal possessions if those were destroyed as well. Losing everything can easily force anyone into bankruptcy. In other cases where people are living on the edge financially, even the loss of a single important piece of property or possession due to theft or an accident of some kind can be enough to lead to bankruptcy.

Reason #7. Student Loan Debt

student loans

There is more than $1.53 trillion in student debt floating around out there. It’s an ongoing challenge faced by one out of every four Americans. Like alimony and child support, filing for bankruptcy will not eliminate or reduce your student loan debt except in very rare cases of extreme hardship. But the constant presence of that large debt can be what leads many people to file bankruptcy so they can address their other debt concerns even though they’ll still have to make good on those student loans.

In the final analysis, it’s rare for just one of the items on this list to be the cause of someone filing bankruptcy. Most people could point to several of the reasons people declare bankruptcy as applying to them. If you are among the hundreds of thousands of people declaring bankruptcy this year and find you also need to get a car, please know that help is available! Day One Credit specializes in working exclusively with bankruptcy customers to help them get the car they need and can afford by finding them a bankruptcy car loan. It’s also one way to get back on track to rebuilding a better credit score whether you’ve filed for a Chapter 7, a Chapter 13, or have a recently discharged bankruptcy. If you want to learn more about how all of this works, please download our recently-published resource: Day One Credit’s Bankruptcy Car Loan Guide. If you need more information about bankruptcy car loans, please feel free to contact us, but if you’re ready to get your keys to a fresh start, go ahead and apply online today!

Last year 750,489 individuals filed for bankruptcy. This is a number that has thankfully been going down year after year as the Great Recession becomes an increasingly distant yet still very painful memory for so many people. But it does beg the question – what are the main reasons that lead people to declare bankruptcy? … Continue reading “Top 7 Reasons People Declare Bankruptcy”

How Reaffirmation Affects Bankruptcy Car Loans

Filing for bankruptcy can be a confusing process for first-timers, which is why we always recommend working with a qualified bankruptcy attorney if you want get a fresh start and regain control of your financial life.One thing people often don’t understand about bankruptcy is what reaffirmation means. In this article we’ll explain what you need to know about reaffirmation, as well as how reaffirmation affects bankruptcy car loans when you need to replace your car with an open bankruptcy case.

What is Reaffirmation During a Bankruptcy?

When you file for either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, one of the things you have to do is decide which debts are going to be included in the bankruptcy filing and which ones will not be included. Typically, you’ll be including most or all of your unsecured debts (credit cards, personal loans, etc.). But there are some things you own and are making payments on that you need to keep – like your car. If you want to keep your vehicle in bankruptcy, one way to do it is to enter into a reaffirmation agreement with the lender. The reaffirmation agreement means you’re committed to keeping up your payments on your car loan and will not include that debt in the bankruptcy. After all, you still need a vehicle to get around, right? You should only enter into reaffirmation agreements on debts that are for things you really need to keep – and make sure you can afford to keep up the payments and make those payments on time. Also keep in mind that when you sign a reaffirmation on a car loan, the lender may not report your loan payments to the credit bureaus while the agreement is in place, which means those payments aren’t helping to improve your credit score.

Check to See if Your Car is Exempt from Bankruptcy

Depending on how much real equity you have in your car, it might fall into the exempt property category in California. If your car is exempt, then you get to keep it during bankruptcy without going through the reaffirmation process. In California, you get to choose between two different exemption schemes. Your bankruptcy attorney can help you figure out which one is best for you depending on all the different kinds of property you own. But when it comes to your car, here’s what the two different schemes consider exempt: In System 1 (704) up to $3,050 in car equity is exempt and in System 2 (703) up to $5,350 in car equity is exempt. These figures are updated every three years. Since these are the figures from 2016, new figures will be in April of 2019 to account for changes in the cost of living.

Your equity in the car is the difference between what you owe on the loan and what the car is worth. If you owe more on the loan than the car is worth (meaning you’re “upside down” or “underwater” on the loan), then you have no equity in the car and it cannot be exempted from the bankruptcy. If you want to keep that car, you’d want to enter into a reaffirmation agreement on that debt. But, if you have a car that’s worth $10,000 and you only owe $7,000 on it, then you have $3,000 of real equity in the vehicle, which falls under the threshold of both exemption systems. This means your ownership of the vehicle is protected from creditors during bankruptcy as long as you keep making your payments on time.

Note that if you choose System 2 (703), there is an additional “wildcard” exemption of $1,425 that can be applied to any property you want. Let’s say you have that same car mentioned before that’s worth $10,000 but now you owe only $3,500 on the loan. You have equity of $6,500 in the car, but the vehicle exemption is only protecting $5,350 of that equity. What about the other $1,150 of equity you want to protect? If you want to have it all exempted, you could take $1,150 of your wildcard exemption and apply it to the vehicle so all of your equity is protected from the bankruptcy.

Does Reaffirmation Affect Bankruptcy Car Loans?

It’s important to make sure you understand one aspect of reaffirmation that a lot of people get wrong. Many people think that if they sign a reaffirmation on their car loan, they are somehow “locked-in” on that loan and have to ride it out to the bitter end. Not true! You are totally free to sell that car and get another vehicle if that’s what you need to do, but you need to be careful.

What you need to pay special attention to is whether you have positive or negative equity in the vehicle. If you’ve signed a reaffirmation agreement, some lenders require you to first cover all or at least half of the balance before they will offer you a new loan, and even then the terms may not be very good. If you have positive equity in the car, you should have no problem getting the bankruptcy loan you need, as long as you meet the other eligibility requirements. You can use the positive equity as a down payment towards your next loan. You can also cancel a reaffirmation agreement and then apply for a bankruptcy car loan through a fresh start lending program. The window for canceling a reaffirmation agreement is either before your bankruptcy is discharged or within 60 days of when the reaffirmation agreement was filed with the court (whichever date is later). If you’re past both those dates and want to cancel a reaffirmation agreement, enlist the help of an attorney.

For example, let’s say you signed a reaffirmation agreement on your car loan. By doing so, you committed to keep making your payments on the car loan. But what if you realize keeping up the payments is going to be harder than you thought? Or what if your family is growing and you need a bigger vehicle? Having positive equity in your current vehicle is the best way to ensure you can get a new loan to buy your next car, but even then there is no guarantee. You’ve been making your loan payments and thinking your credit is improving, but if the lender has not been reporting those payments to the credit bureaus, your credit score might be worse than it was before the bankruptcy! And, as mentioned earlier, if you have negative equity in the car, a lender could require you to cover 50% to 100% of the balance of the loan before they will consider giving you a new loan with better terms.

As you can see, this aspect of bankruptcy that’s about property exemptions and reaffirmation agreements can become complex if you have a lot of different kinds of property. You have to figure out which of the two different California exemption schemes is the right one for you, and then also determine if you should do a reaffirmation on your current car loan. This is why Day One recommends you work with experienced bankruptcy attorneys. And if you need to replace your current vehicle after filing bankruptcy, keep Day One in mind for bankruptcy car loans. Our process is fast and gets results for you. Contact us for more information or start our online application now!

Filing for bankruptcy can be a confusing process for first-timers, which is why we always recommend working with a qualified bankruptcy attorney if you want get a fresh start and regain control of your financial life.One thing people often don’t understand about bankruptcy is what reaffirmation means. In this article we’ll explain what you need … Continue reading “How Reaffirmation Affects Bankruptcy Car Loans”

10 Bankruptcy Car Buying Mistakes to Avoid

bankruptcy car buying mistakes

When you realize that the mountain of debt you’re facing for whatever reason is way more than you’ll ever be able to handle, filing for bankruptcy offers you a way out. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll work with an attorney and the bankruptcy court to come up with a reasonable payment plan that will get your debts back under control – something that can take anywhere from 3-5 years to achieve. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all your worst debts are completely eliminated, leaving you with only those you need to maintain (such as your house, car, and student loans). The decision to file and the process of filing for bankruptcy causes a lot of stress for most people going through it. If they discover they need to replace their car, the added stress causes many people to make one or more of the 10 bankruptcy car buying mistakes. This article explains each one, and how you can avoid all of them.

1. Paying Cash for a Car

paying cash for a car

People with fantastic credit who can pay for a car in cash should always feel free to do so and avoid all the interest payments of a financed purchase. But if you are in a bankruptcy situation, we think paying cash for a car is one of the worst bankruptcy car buying mistakes you can make. Why? Because one of your primary goals in filing bankruptcy is to start rebuilding your credit history and increase your credit score.

What the credit bureaus are looking for is how you how handle new lines of credit. If you pay cash for a car, nothing gets reported to the credit bureaus, which means you won’t gain any credit-improving benefits! One way to start restoring your credit is by financing the purchase of a vehicle and making on-time payments, each of which will be reported to the credit bureaus.

Although the costs of the loan mean you’ll end up paying more than you would with cash, it can be worth it in order to improve your credit score. You’ll end up having more credit options available to you for other kinds of loans like a mortgage to buy a house, a home equity loan to make improvements to your house, and qualify for better credit cards. Can you afford to miss out on all those benefits? Day One Credit has a strong network of lenders who specialize in serving bankruptcy customers, whether it’s a Chapter 7, a Chapter 13, or a recently discharged bankruptcy.

2. Buying from an Unreputable BHPH Dealer

buy here pay here

What is a BHPH dealer? It’s an acronym standing for “Buy-Here-Pay-Here car.” This kind of car dealership offers what some people call “in-house financing.” It means the dealer is not only selling you the car, it is also loaning you the money to make the purchase. This can turn out to be one of the most serious bankruptcy car buying mistakes! If you’re not sure whether or not a dealer is a BHPH, one sign is that they almost always guarantee approval

The problem is that the terms of the loan might be really horrible. We’ve heard that some BHPH dealers are notorious for taking advantage of credit-challenged people by charging grossly high interest rates. Then, to add insult to injury, they often hide all kinds of fees and other inconvenient terms in the fine print of the finance contract. For example, the contract might specify that you have to make weekly payments instead of monthly payments, and if you’re late on just one payment they will repossess the car! No one should settle for those kinds of shady practices.

At Day One Credit, we don’t make loans, we find loans. We send your application out to all the lenders in our network who have special programs for bankruptcy customers. These lenders are competing for your business, which means you’ll end up with the loan that fits your particular credit situation.

3. Purchasing an Older Car with High Miles

older car

When bankruptcy filers assume there’s no way they could ever get approved for a car loan, they often end up trying to spend as little as possible on a car they can buy for whatever little cash they have. What they end up being able to afford without financing is often an older car with a whole lot of miles on it that’s not in the best of shape. But here’s the thing: When you settle for an older vehicle with high miles, you often end up paying a lot more in repairs than you thought you would. If you add all those repair costs to what you’ve already paid for the car, you might realize you would have been better off paying a higher price on a newer used vehicle with fewer miles that doesn’t need to constantly be in the repair shop.

Other kinds of cars you should avoid at all costs are those with salvage titles and those that are clearly lemons. Cars with prices that seem too good to be true are probably exactly that. If you shop the bottom of the barrel, you inevitably get what you pay for, and then some in the form of hidden frame damage, flood damage or all kinds of other safety issues that will cost you way more than you bargained for. Financing a better used car will save you money in the long run, as well as help your rebuilt your credit.

4. Getting a Brand-New Vehicle Instead of Used Vehicle

new car

When you’re in an open or recently discharged bankruptcy situation, you need to make smart choices in order to make the most of the fresh start bankruptcy provides. The smart choice here is to get the most bang for your buck as possible, which makes buying new one of the most common bankruptcy car buying mistakes people make. Why is purchasing a brand-new vehicle a bad idea? The reason is because of the depreciation factor. In the first several years your new car loses 15-25% of its value each year, which means you’ll be “underwater” or “upside-down” on the loan for years. But if you buy a high-quality used vehicle, the previous owner has already taken the big hit on depreciation, which means you get a great car for a lot less money!

5. Choosing an Unaffordable Vehicle such as a Luxury Car

luxury car

This one is a variation on making responsible choices as a bankruptcy car buyer. Can you really afford a luxury car? Would it be a stretch to afford it? What will you do if something changes and your income goes down? At Day One Credit, we help people be realistic about what they can afford. After all, the last thing you want to happen when you’re trying to rebuild your credit is bite off more than you can chew and end up being delinquent on your car payments. What many people don’t realize is that there are more costs to owning a luxury car than just the price tag and monthly payment. Luxury cars cost a lot more to insure, and they’re also going to cost more to maintain and repair when something goes wrong.

6. Failing to get GAP Insurance and Service Contracts

GAP and service contracts

What is GAP insurance? This is an acronym that stands for Guaranteed Asset Protection. It’s a type of insurance that covers any “gap” between the balance of a loan due on a vehicle and what an insurance company pays in the event of a total loss. In case you didn’t know, those two figures rarely match up. The insurance company often pays less for the car than what you still owe on it. No one likes being stuck with payments on a car that no longer exists, and GAP insurance is what protects you from that scenario. Service contracts are another kind of insurance that help pay for maintenance and repairs when needed. Please note that service contracts vary widely in terms of what is covered, for how long, and with what kind of deductible you have to pay. Read the fine print before signing on the dotted line!

7. Replacing a Great Car

great car

You would be surprised how many people in a bankruptcy situation make the mistake of getting a different car when they don’t even need one to being with. Yes, you want to rebuild your credit, and financing a car purchase is one way to do that, but it should never be your only reason to do it, and especially if you already have a great car. Here’s what Day One Credit offers as a rule of thumb in this situation: If your current car is less than five years old, has relatively low mileage, and is paid off or close to being paid off, you should definitely stick with it! There are other ways to start rebuilding your credit, such as getting a secured credit card.

8. Buying a Car for Someone Else

someone else

Whether it’s your child, another family member, or a friend, buying a car for someone else may be a very generous thing to do, but often ends up being one of the worst bankruptcy car buying mistakes you can make. Remember, your top priority with a bankruptcy is to get your credit back into good shape. But when you buy a car for someone else, can you guess who is on the hook if something goes wrong? The answer is YOU! When you’re trying to restore your credit, the last thing you should do is become the one who is ultimately financially responsible for someone else’s vehicle no matter how responsible you think they are.

9. Having a Cosigner Who did Not Also File for Bankruptcy

co-signer

You have to be very careful to understand the situation you have with your current car and its outstanding loan if you decide to declare bankruptcy but had a cosigner on the loan. If you declare bankruptcy but your cosigner doesn’t, the lender can (and probably will) go after your cosigner to collect on the remaining debt. This can cause a great deal of pain and heartache between two people, so be sure you know the details of your current situation. Day One Credit is always happy to help you understand all your options – just contact us!

10. Lacking a Valid License

valid driver's license

Most lenders are going to require that your driver’s license be valid, up-to-date, and not suspended. You should not try to get a car at all if you lack a valid driver’s license because it could land you in some serious trouble. Don’t do it!

If you’re in a bankruptcy situation and you need a car, you won’t find a better option in the greater San Diego area than Day One Credit. Read our Why Day One page and see for yourself!

When you realize that the mountain of debt you’re facing for whatever reason is way more than you’ll ever be able to handle, filing for bankruptcy offers you a way out. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll work with an attorney and the bankruptcy court to come up with a reasonable payment plan that will … Continue reading “10 Bankruptcy Car Buying Mistakes to Avoid”

10 Signs It May Be Time To File Bankruptcy

10 signs to file for bankruptcy

Looking at all the different debts you owe versus what you make in terms of income can be an eye-opening experience. Some people go through life not paying attention to the big picture of their debt and income until something happens that forces them to do it. When the reality of the picture sinks in, it can cause a wave of panic, often followed by despair at what might feel like a hopeless situation. This is when filing for bankruptcy might be your best option to reduce your debts and work towards a brighter financial future. This article describes 10 different signs to help you realize when it may be time to file bankruptcy.

1. Struggling to Pay the Basics

struggle basic needs

If you find yourself having to choose which basic bills you can afford to pay each month and which ones to put off until next time, you’re either not earning enough income to meet your basic needs or have to send off too much of your income to keep up with your debts, leaving less for the basics. This can be the result of losing a job or experiencing a sudden medical emergency not fully covered by your health insurance (if you have health insurance to begin with). If debt payments are getting in the way of meeting your basic needs and normal bills, it may well be time to file bankruptcy.

2. Minimum Payments (or less) on Credit Cards

credit card minimum payments

Missing the occasional payment here and there on a credit card is not a big deal. But if you find yourself in a situation with multiple credit cards and high balances where all you can ever do is pay the “minimum due” amount (and sometimes not even that much), you should definitely look at the rest your finances and see if it all is trying to tell you it may be time to file bankruptcy. Another variation on this problem is when you take a cash advance out on one card to make the payment on another, or if you’re constantly transferring balances to new cards. These are just delaying tactics that won’t solve your credit card debt problems in the longer term. In fact, it typically worsens the problem by allowing the debt to grow over time.

3. Collection Agencies are Constantly Calling

collection agencies

If you’re late on a loan payment, the company holding the loan will probably do an auto-call to remind you to make a payment. If the debt has been turned over to a collection agency because you’ve missed several payments, you can expect the calls to ratchet up in terms of frequency. Ignoring the calls is not a long-term strategy to free you from the mounting pressures of the debts you owe, which means it might be time to file bankruptcy.

4. Using Credit Cards or Personal Loans to Pay for Necessities

personal loans and credit cards

Some people purposefully use credit cards to pay for necessities because they earn rewards for their spending, such as frequent flyer miles and so on. That’s fine if they’re paying off their balance from month to month. But if you’re using credit cards to pay the basics because you don’t have enough money coming in, you run the risk of running up more credit card debt than you’ll be able to handle. This can be a reason to look at whether or not it’s time to file bankruptcy.

5. Debt Consolidation Looks Good

debt consolidation

You’ve seen the offers to consolidate your debt with a company that also promises to lower your overall monthly debt payment. This sounds great from a cash-flow perspective because you’ll have more money each month to spend. It is rarely, however, a good idea in the bigger picture of your financial future. The consolidation gives you a lower monthly debt payment by spreading the payments out over a much longer period of time, which also masks the interest you’ll pay over those years. This can mean you’ll end up paying significantly more than your original debts in the long term. You might be better off exploring whether it’s time to file bankruptcy.

6. Lawsuits from One or More Debt Collectors

lawsuits

If you receive a court summons because you’ve ignored the attempts of debt collectors to get you to pay up, it’s important to understand that you could end up being responsible for all the court costs and other legal fees involved in the lawsuit. Filing bankruptcy will stop the lawsuit in its tracks and help protect you from other actions of debt collectors.

7. Wage Garnishing

wage garnishing

After a lawsuit has been decided in favor of the debt collector, they have legal recourse to do things to get their money, although this varies by state. In some cases they can freeze your bank account. In other cases they can garnish your wages, which means your employer will be required to hold back a certain amount of your paycheck until the debt is paid off. Proactively filing for bankruptcy can prevent these sorts of things from happening. And make no mistake, wage garnishment is not as uncommon as you might think. Some estimates say as many as one in ten Americans have their wages garnished to pay off debts.

8. Foreclosure on Your Home

foreclosure

If you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage payments and foreclosure is looming on the horizon, bankruptcy can be a way to figure it all out and keep your home, either by eliminating many of your debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or sticking to a reasonable repayment plan over 3-5 years in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

9. You’re Tired of Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck

paycheck to paycheck

If every month is a major struggle because of your debt, it’s worth taking time to figure out what’s really going on. If the debts you owe total up to more than half your annual income, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get your debt under control in the foreseeable future. Missing multiple payments can result in vehicle repossession, student loan default, collection agencies and lawsuits, all of which will keep your credit score going down instead of up. Filing bankruptcy can help you turn that situation around (note that student loan debt is almost never covered by bankruptcy, so you’ll still have to make good on that).

10. Your Income Isn’t Going to Go Up and You’ve Spent Your Savings

savings

Sometimes people who are struggling to keep up with their debts think they can hold out for more income, whether it’s getting a better-paying job or taking on an additional job (or two). But you need to be realistic about this. If the reality is that your income is not going to be going up any time soon, or only by a little bit, then your overall situation isn’t really going to change, which might mean a better approach is seeing it’s time to file bankruptcy. If you look ahead and come up with a real plan to pay off your debts but it’s going to take longer than five years to do it, bankruptcy might be a better option. What often goes along with this is running through all your savings to maintain debt payments and living expenses. If all the savings are gone and you still have more debt than you can manage, it may be time to file bankruptcy. If you haven’t already started spending your savings, then don’t! Protect your long-term financial health and that of your family by exploring bankruptcy as an option.

When one or more of the signs listed above apply to you, then it may be time to file bankruptcy. You’ll need the help of a qualified bankruptcy attorney to ensure it’s the right option for you and to make it happen. Day One Credit is pleased to recommend any of the lawyers listed on our Bankruptcy Attorney Page.  Alternatively, also check out our post on how to choose a good bankruptcy lawyer.

If you are considering filing bankruptcy or have recently filed and realize you need to replace your car, Day One Credit specializes in finding bankruptcy car loans to help you get the vehicle you need without your bankruptcy getting in the way. Our goal is simple: Helping each customer going through bankruptcy find the car and loan they need while also helping them rebuild their credit. Feel free to contact us to speak with one of our friendly customer service representatives to learn more about how we can help. You can also get started right away when you apply online with our easy online application, which will give you an answer in a matter of minutes thanks to our network of lenders who all compete for your business. This is how we find the loan option that fits your situation!

Looking at all the different debts you owe versus what you make in terms of income can be an eye-opening experience. Some people go through life not paying attention to the big picture of their debt and income until something happens that forces them to do it. When the reality of the picture sinks in, … Continue reading “10 Signs It May Be Time To File Bankruptcy”

Bankruptcy Car Loan Guidelines

bankruptcy car loan guidelines

Every time a lender makes a loan to a borrower, they’re taking a big risk. How can a lender know if the borrower will make on-time payments? How will the lender know the borrower won’t default on the loan? They honestly don’t know, which is why lending is a risk. But through experience, lenders have discovered ways to help them predict the chances of default.

What the lenders do is look at particular data and characteristics related to a borrower to assess the level of risk in making a loan to that borrower. As lenders refine this risk-assessment process, they often also create loan guidelines borrowers can use to see if they’re even eligible. This helps save time by preventing people from applying for a loan who would most likely be rejected anyways. For that to work, however, consumers need to understand the financial terms used in loan guidelines. This article will help you understand the common financial terms you’ll find in bankruptcy auto loan guidelines so you can decide whether or not this type of a loan is right for you.

How Credit Reports and Credit Scores Affect Loan Guidelines

credit reports and bankruptcy car loan

Some lenders have a very clear guideline for a minimum credit score potential borrowers have to meet in order to be eligible to apply for a loan. It’s going to vary widely from lender to lender depending on the level of risk they are willing to take on in making a loan. The higher the credit score requirement, the less risk they are willing to expose themselves to, making it harder or impossible for folks with challenged credit to get a loan through that lender.

At Day One Credit, we don’t have a minimum credit score requirement. In fact, you might qualify even if you have no credit history at all! Because we specialize in finding bankruptcy car loans, we know your credit score is already not good. But because you’re in bankruptcy or recently had one discharged, we also know you’re on the pathway to restoring your credit and doing better. The lenders we work with are the ones who also look past a credit score to serve this group of customers and help them make the most of the fresh start bankruptcy provides.

Payment to Income and Debt to Income ratios: PTI and DTI

income and debt ratios

Many lenders want to take a close look not just at your income, but how much of your monthly gross income (before taxes are taken out) is going to go towards the loan payment. This is a way of making sure you don’t end up with a loan payment you really can’t afford. Lenders refer to this ratio as PTI – your payment to income ratio. But they don’t just take into account the monthly car loan payment. They’re also going to add in your monthly car insurance payment because you need to be able to afford both.

You can figure out your own PTI ratio by taking what you think you can afford in terms of a car loan payment plus an estimate of the monthly car insurance payment, add them together, and then divide that total by your monthly gross income and express the result as a percentage. A lot of lenders who work with people who have challenged credit generally want your PTI ratio to be in the 15-20% range. As an example, let’s say you’re interested in buying a used car but you need to finance it. You have an idea of what you want and think a reasonable monthly car loan payment for you would be $250/month and insurance of about $90/month for a grand total monthly car-related payment of $340. Now let’s say your gross monthly income is $2,400. You take the payment of $340 and divide it by your income of $2,400 and get .14 (rounding down), then move the decimal point over two places to the right and get 14%. This would be an acceptable PTI ration for many lenders. That is, unless you have a lot of other debt payments to make. This is why most lenders will also look at your DTI ratio – your debt-to-income ratio.

Your DTI gives lenders a picture of how much of your gross monthly income has to go to all your debt and bill payments combined together. If most of your monthly income is eaten up with your bills, lenders will question how you can add another significant bill in the form of a car loan payment and insurance. Calculating your DTI is similar to calculating your PTI. The difference is that in the case of DTI what you’re adding together are all your regular monthly bills and debt payments for housing, utilities, and so on. Many lenders get very nervous about making a loan to you if your DTI is more than 50%.

Here at Day One Credit, the advantage you have is the fact that you’ve either declared bankruptcy or have recently had your bankruptcy discharged. This is when your debt-to-income ratio is going to be much better than it was before you declared bankruptcy, and the lenders we work with understand how much this matters.

Day One Credit Bankruptcy Financing Guidelines

Day One Credit bankruptcy car loan guidelines

At Day One Credit, we take great pride in helping people who have declared bankruptcy get the car they need by finding bankruptcy car loans for them. The lenders we work with specialize in this type of lending, and we get them all competing with each other to get your business. This helps you find the loan that best fits your credit situation. We find we can help most people in a bankruptcy situation, but not everyone. We do have our own eligibility guidelines to help you determine whether or not you should apply. Please note, however, that meeting our eligibility guidelines does not guarantee you’ll get a loan. We still have to evaluate your application to make sure we can work with you. If you meet the guidelines below, you should feel free to apply:

Income: We need documented proof of minimum gross monthly income of at least $2,200 per month. You can prove your income with W-2 forms from your employer or with 1099 forms or bank statements if you are self-employed.

Bankruptcy Status: Because we work exclusively with bankruptcy customers, you need to have either already filed for bankruptcy or have had your bankruptcy recently discharged.

Valid Driver’s License: Unfortunately, if your driver’s license is expired or suspended, we cannot help you.

Those are our three most basic eligibility guidelines. But we also find there other cases where we think a bankruptcy car loan is not a good choice for you, including the following:

You Already Have a Great Car: If your current vehicle is still on the new side with low miles, is paid off or close to being paid off, you should just stick with it.

Income is Not Stable: In order for a bankruptcy car loan to work in your favor, your income needs to be stable. If you know your income is about to drop or you’re going to experience a sudden increase in expenses, it would be better not to apply.

Cosigner Bankruptcy Status: Sometimes our bankruptcy customers want to use a cosigner to boost their chances of getting a loan. But if your cosigner didn’t also file for bankruptcy and things go badly with payments, the lender can go after the cosigner.

Our commitment to you at Day One Credit is to help you understand the details of your own credit situation and give you a realistic picture of what’s possible. We aren’t going to let you take on a loan payment you can’t afford because that is simply not helpful.

The other piece of good news about working with Day One Credit to find a bankruptcy car loan is it’s one way to start rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy. This pathway to restoring your credit means finding a new loan and making on-time payments. Some lenders won’t give you the time of day with a bankruptcy on your credit history, but it’s our whole mission to work with bankruptcy customers!

There are lending programs in our network that don’t require any down payment, and we will also help you find an affordable used car that’s right for you. If you meet our basic bankruptcy car loan guidelines, you can start the process online at our website when you fill out our easy online application. If we need to clarify any of the information on your application, we’ll contact you. And then you’ll hear back from us in a matter of minutes! But if you have more questions about how all this works, please feel free to contact us – we’ll be happy to talk you and help you understand everything you need to know!

Every time a lender makes a loan to a borrower, they’re taking a big risk. How can a lender know if the borrower will make on-time payments? How will the lender know the borrower won’t default on the loan? They honestly don’t know, which is why lending is a risk. But through experience, lenders have … Continue reading “Bankruptcy Car Loan Guidelines”