Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Tips and Tricks

Chapter 13 bankruptcy often takes 3 or 5 years. See Chapter 13 bankruptcy tips and tricks to help you get a discharge.
Information in this article does not constitute legal advice, it is for informational purposes only, and may not constitute the most up-to-date information. Readers should contact their attorney for advice on any particular legal matter.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is often 3 or 5 years long, so having a toolkit of tips and tricks can help you succeed in discharge, instead of dismissal.

The purpose of this article is to provide you with tips and tricks to succeed in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy below.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy tips and tricks:

  1. Understanding Your Chapter 13 Payment Plan and Your All-In Costs
  2. How to live on a Chapter 13 bankruptcy budget
  3. Access free Chapter 13 bankruptcy support forums
  4. Avoid incurring new debt in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy
  5. Understand when to tell your Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys of problems
  6. Understand whether you can make extra Chapter 13 payments
  7. 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 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? What will happen to your Chapter 13 payment if you get a bonus or big raise? 

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 or a bonus that could increase your plan payment. You may also want to consider whether you would pay off a vehicle, which would free up disposable income which may also 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.

Keep on reading, or jump ahead to the section that interests you most.

Table of Contents

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 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.

When you are making monthly payments on a Chapter 13, they may not be flexible if you miss multiple payments. This is why creating a budget is essential so you don’t end up with a dismissal. Be sure to keep up with payments and communicate with your attorney.

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.

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.

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. 

Chater 13 Bankruptcy Pros and Cons

It’s important to understand the pros and cons of Chapter 13 bankruptcy before making a decision to file in the first place. It’s important you have a steady income and a list of all of your debts before you file, which an attorney can help with. Here is the breakdown: 


  • Full asset protection
  • Stop foreclosure proceedings
  • Reschedule secured debts and extend them over the Chapter 13 plan
  • Full legal protection (stops judgments, garnishment, etc.)
  • May discharge some of the unsecured debt 


  • May end up paying back some or all of the debt (may be expensive)
  • 3 or 5 year long payment plan 
  • Attorneys fees
  • Hit to your credit score 
  • On your credit report for 7 years

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.

When Can A Chapter 13 Payment Plan Be Modified?

Once you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, usually that monthly payment plan may stay the same, however, there are some scenarios when it could change. Here are some reasons a Chapter 13 plan may be modified: 

  • Your income has changed.
  • You need to buy health insurance.
  • Change how much money is being paid to different creditors.
  • You had kids.
  • You got married or divorced.

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 the 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.

If your Chapter 13 bankruptcy is dismissed, you can consider such options as debt settlement or Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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.

Further Reading

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.

  1. Keeping Your House in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
  2. Backtaxes and Bankruptcy


  1. Mint. (2024 March 13). Retrieved from:
  2. Simplifi by Quicken. (2024 March 13). Retrieved from:
  3. Goodbudget. (2024 March 13). Retrieved from:
  4. Making a Budget. (2024 March 13). Retrieved from:
  5. Budgeting: How to create a budget and stick with it. (2024 March 13). Retrieved from:
  6. BK Forum. (2024 March 13). Retrieved from:
  7. Walker & Walker. (2024 March 20). Retrieved from 
  8. US Courts. (2024 March 21). Retrieved from

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