Know Your Options When Your Financial World Crumbles

The economy is heading south, foreclosures are at an all-time-high, and if you are under serious financial pressure with the walls closing in, you're not alone. In short, there are a number of factors in today's economy that individually would not be of much significance to your financial situation, but this year they may all come into alignment to create financial hardships for millions of hardworking Americans. Despite the optimistic Congress that may generously be rebating you a few extra tax dollars out of the governments pocket this year, the "economic stimulus" package will not keep you out of bankruptcy.

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If a financial crunch happens to you, the pressure and stress of the burden can feel like the weight of the world is upon you. If you find yourself in such a situation, you must know that there are resources and legal ways that you can recover, without losing your residence, transportation, and other possessions..

Last year several major credit card companies changed their minimum payment policies, as well as their interest rates. If you normally pay your bill in full, changes in the credit card agreements may not impact you. However, on a revolving balance the new, higher required payments might take you by surprise and be drawing from money that was earmarked for other purposes. For example, if you took advantage of the subprime lending rates on your home and either refinanced or borrowed against your equity, the added payments from adjustable rates mortgages might be creating an additional financial pinch in the coming months, and money that you had planned to spend on keeping up with your mortgage may now have to be redirected to your monthly credit card bills. The compounding effect of balloon payments and increased minimum payments is further aggravated by any kind of life changing or unforeseen expenses:

Kids going to college? Car needs new tires to pass inspection? Tax bill coming due? Your stock portfolio or IRA lost money?

Complicating matters further, recent changes to bankruptcy laws make it harder to be eligible to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. That's not to say that you want to hurt your credit rating or run away from your responsibilities, but in today's complex financial world, but industry and commerce has stacked the deck against you much like how the house has favor in a casino. When the rules change in the middle of the game, it's time to consider your options to free yourself of the financial chains. Commercial enterprise is trying to saddle you with their woes as a consumer. There's nothing that says you need to accept their load and encumber your future so that big business can increase their profit margins.

Go online to your favorite search engine and do a local search for a bankruptcy attorney in your area. Each state is different, so find the best qualified attorney that practices in your area by using keywords like "bankruptcy attorney" or "bankruptcy lawyer", followed by the city and state where you live. When you do a search at the local level such as this, the resulting listing will show you qualified professionals in your surrounding area that can help you reduce or eliminate your debt, while preventing harassing calls from creditors. Getting the right information is just the first step to making an informed decision. There is no shame in protecting your future. You didn't change the laws. You didn't change your payment schedules. And you didn't create the unforeseen circumstances beyond your control. You can, however, take control and minimize the impact on your financial picture in years to come by seeking professional guidance now.

Ask yourself this question: If you do nothing differently in the next six months, will your financial situation improve, worsen, or stay the same? Then answer the question, Are you happy with your current cash flow, debt management, cash reserves, and quality of life? If you don't like the answers to those questions, procrastinating on making a decision to get help is not serving you well. If pride is the culprit keeping you from taking action, it can be difficult to overcome the feelings related to getting assistance. Consider the fact that the laws are in place to help you ease your burden for a reason. If there were not a widespread economic need to address the shortcomings in our financial system, bankruptcy laws would not be available to you. Consider, also, how it would feel to get out from under the anvil of debt that crushes your spirit, steals from your lifestyle, and deprives your family of freedom. Is it time to clear the slate, learn from the past, and make wiser money decisions moving forward? Is it time to live again? The next step is yours.

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