Chapter 13 bankruptcy is often 3 or 5 years, so having a toolkit of tips and tricks can help you succeed to discharge, instead of dismissal.
The purpose of this article is to provide you tips and tricks to succeed in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy below.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy tips and tricks:
- Understanding Your Chapter 13 Payment Plan and Your All In Costs
- How to live on a Chapter 13 bankruptcy budget
- Access free Chapter 13 bankruptcy support forums
- Avoid incurring new debt in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy
- Understand when to tell your Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys of problems
- Understand whether you can make extra Chapter 13 payments
- See common reasons why Chapter 13 bankruptcies are dismissed to help you avoid them.
Let’s get started on these tips and tricks.
Understanding Your Chapter 13 Payment Plan and Your All-In Costs
An important thing in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is understanding what you will pay each month and what goes into the cost costs. For example, did you know that the Chapter 13 trustee fees can be thousands of dollars in addition to the attorney fees that could be over $2500.
Is Chapter 13 bankruptcy even the best option for you? For example, let's say you get a raise in 2 years or a big bonus and your Chapter 13 plan payment explodes?
So, yes, your Chapter 13 payment plan is very important. Ascend built an extremely comprehensive, free Chapter 13 Calculator that mirrors the bankruptcy forms to provide a Chapter 13 plan payment estimate. In addition, you can get a free evaluation based on your data from an analyst. It seems like whatever they are doing is working as Ascend currently has a 5.0 rating on Google based on 105 reviews.
Once you understand your Chapter 13 plan payment estimate, you should consider thinking about whether you may get a raise that could increase your plan payment or a bonus. You may also want to think about whether you would pay off a vehicle, which would free up disposable income that may increase your plan payment. All of these are helpful to know before you start your Chapter 13 plan. You can take the Chapter 13 Calculator below to estimate your payment plan.
How To live on a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Budget
When you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, the key to completing your bankruptcy repayment plan is living within a budget. Your Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan is based on a monthly budget. However, the budget does not include every expense that you may have during the month. It also does not include emergency expenses.
Therefore, if you do not have a monthly budget, create one now. Completing your bankruptcy education course is an excellent place to begin to learn about budgeting. The debtor education course includes information and tips for creating household and personal budgets.
If you need additional assistance, there are many budgeting tools available online. Mint, Simplifi by Quicken, and GoodBudget. You may also want to visit Consumer.gov to learn more about personal budgets, including free worksheets. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also has information and resources for creating a budget.
Living within a budget helps you complete your Chapter 13 plan because you are less likely to overspend. Overspending in Chapter 13 can result in missing a bankruptcy payment. Budgeting can help prepare for emergency expenses so that an unexpected bill does not impact your Chapter 13 plan.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Support Forms
You are not alone. Knowing that fact can provide an incentive to keep on track. BKForum is a bankruptcy “survival” community. You can access articles and information about “surviving” a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. Ask questions and share information with other people who are “surviving” Chapter 13. The forum has many topics related to general bankruptcy, personal finance, Chapter 13, and finances after bankruptcy.
How to Avoid Incurring New Debt in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
During a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, you cannot incur new debt without court approval. For example, if you want to sell your home and purchase a new home, you must file a petition with the bankruptcy court to seek approval to sell your home and obtain a new mortgage. Likewise, if you want to purchase a new vehicle, you need to petition the court for approval of a car loan.
The purpose of not allowing new debt in Chapter 13 is to give the debtor the best chance of completing the Chapter 13 plan. If you incur new debt, it could stretch your budget too far, making it difficult to pay your plan payments. Therefore, the court wants to see a new proposed budget to ensure you have sufficient funds to pay the new debt while paying living expenses and your Chapter 13 plan payment.
Setup Emergency Savings:
It may be impossible to avoid new debt in Chapter 13. Life throws unexpected events at us that often result in non-budgeted expenses. One of the best ways to avoid new debt in bankruptcy is to create an emergency savings account.
Tips to help you make emergency savings easier include:
- Automate emergency savings by automatically depositing an amount from your paycheck into the savings account each pay period. If you never “have” the money, it is easier to leave it alone.
- Do not have a debit card or checks attached to the savings account. It is easier to dip into the funds when they are easy to access.
- Open your emergency savings account at a different bank from your regular checking and savings accounts.
- Treat your emergency savings as a monthly expense on your budget. Add it to your budget and pay “yourself” each month when you pay living expenses.
Having an emergency savings account reduces the need to incur debt during Chapter 13. It also helps you remain on a budget, even when you experience unexpected expenses.
When Should You Notify Your Bankruptcy Attorney About Problems?
Immediately! If you experience any problems regarding your Chapter 13 plan, notify your Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney immediately. It is better to ask questions before you act instead of how to fix a problem. Your attorney may offer one or more solutions to the problem that you did not think about or were unaware existed.
If you cannot make your Chapter 13 payments, your attorney may petition the court for a moratorium of payments. A moratorium is a short two or three-month break from making Chapter 13 payments. It extends your Chapter 13 plan by those months.
You may also be able to lower your Chapter 13 payments if your income decreases. However, the decrease in income would need to last at least as long as your Chapter 13 plan and constitute a significant income decrease. If you created the situation, such as voluntarily quitting your job, the court would not likely lower your plan payments.
Can I Make Extra Plan Payments on My Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
It is possible to make extra payments toward your Chapter 13 plan. However, talk with your Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney before making an extra Chapter 13 payment. The court may view extra payments as an indication that you could afford to pay more money to your unsecured creditors. If so, the court could increase your Chapter 13 plan payments. Your attorney will advise you on the best way to pay off your Chapter 13 plan early, if possible.
Common Reasons Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Cases Are Dismissed
The most common reason for the dismissal of Chapter 13 cases is non-payment. If you miss a payment or two, you might be able to work out an agreement to catch up on those payments. However, that is a one-time option. If you fail to make your payments in the future, the court could dismiss your Chapter 13 case.
Other common reasons for Chapter 13 dismissals include, but are not limited to:
- Failing to pay court fees
- Not completing your required bankruptcy courts
- Failing to file required bankruptcy forms
- Bankruptcy fraud
- Not attending the First Meeting of Creditors
- Failure to file required tax returns
- Not paying court-ordered child support or alimony payments
- Failing to submit required documents to the Chapter 13 trustee
When the court dismisses your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, your creditors may take action to collect outstanding debts. You no longer have bankruptcy protection against wage garnishments, collection lawsuits, repossessions, and other debt collection actions.
These tricks and tips are meant to help you understand how to make a Chapter 13 bankruptcy work for you. Please feel free to reach out with any specific questions to us.
Below are some resources that can help you whether you are considering how to deal with student loans or how your house can be protected in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.