Even after the slow march back from a devastating recession, the average American is again using credit like there is no tomorrow. In some cases, the economic tomorrow is beginning to look bleak already. Sadly, it is not just excessive credit card spending that is triggering the sight of an impending crisis and a burgeoning need for debt relief both in Arkansas and throughout the nation.
A medical student who is a popular blogger has revealed how she has paid off large amounts of student loan debts. It involves paying them off through regular payments of funds obtained through very low interest rate credit cards. The ability to do that applies in Arkansas and elsewhere, but can one later file bankruptcy to discharge the credit card debt that may accrue in times of an unexpected emergency?
Student loan debt continues to be a serious economic problem in Arkansas and in the United States. Outstanding student loan debt reached a record $1.35 trillion in 2016, which was an increase from the preceding year. About 10 million people are in default at this time, and that does not include those who are struggling with private student loans. Relief of student loans through bankruptcy continues to be problematic, but a lessening of the rules may be necessary to avert a major economic downturn.
Although bankruptcy filings were at a low percentage of the population last year, the signs of heavy credit card use, increasing medical bills and rising prices portend an increase next year. Interestingly, it is also true that bankruptcy filings in certain states and geographical locations were substantially higher than the national average. According to surveys by the American Bankruptcy Institute and Nerd Wallet, six of the 10 states with considerably higher numbers of filed bankruptcies are in the south, with Arkansas having the ninth highest number of new filings for 2015.
Nonprofit consumer credit counselors play a useful part in the debt relief industry in Arkansas and nationwide. They are generally honest players in a sector that includes fraud, deception and greedy scams meant to benefit a so-called debt relief company and not the consumer debtor. Despite their usefulness, the law does not yet require consumer credit counselors to advise clients on the comparative benefits of filing a bankruptcy. That is a serious deficiency because often the best option for people in serious, overwhelming debt is to erase the debt right away in bankruptcy and move on without lingering in debt for many more years.
There are many fallacies about bankruptcy that keep the public in Arkansas and elsewhere confused about the impact and value of this consumer remedy. The best way to debunk those false stories and urban legends is to consult with an experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney. That is the best way to learn authoritatively about one's options and available remedies under the circumstances. That being said, a few of the major misconceptions are discussed below.
Most Americans, including Arkansas residents, strive to have sufficient resources to live comfortably while maintaining a healthy savings cushion that will cover unexpected financial emergencies. However, the Federal Reserve reports that nearly half of American households do not have enough savings to cover even a modest expense of $400 that could unexpectedly arise. This is partly due to a current economy marked by rising prices alongside stagnant earnings. For some consumers, bankruptcy may be the best way to eliminate the crisis and begin again with a fresh start.
A resident of Arkansas who is facing overwhelming debt problems will understandably seek out professional help to find a strategy for debt relief. In just about every case, a person in that situation is solidly in favor of paying off his or her debts in a payment plan of some sort. However, prior to retaining the services of anyone, the individual should make a thorough search and act carefully. There are unethical and usurious companies around every corner so that caution must be exercised. The consumer should also compare the features of any programs offered with the powerful and swift remedies available in a federal bankruptcy proceeding.
The middle class economic struggle seems to be worsening throughout the country, including here in Arkansas. More and more people are confronting deep financial frustration as they try to find ways out of the morass. The fact is that it is not easy to pay for excess medical bills, accumulated student loans, high-interest credit card debt and for all of the trappings of American life on hourly wages of $10 or even $15 per hour. That shows how difficult it must be for those who earn even less, and it portends a future where consumer bankruptcy will once again be the only viable choice for people who need meaningful relief.
In Arkansas and other states, a bankruptcy proceeding is initiated by filing a petition. The petition, accompanying schedules, and other mandatory forms make up a comprehensive package containing details of the filer's financial affairs, including bills, loans, tax obligations, income records, assets, household budget and a series of financial questions. The federal bankruptcy filing also includes counseling certificates, along with a special formulation of the filer's income and debts, called the means test, which is designed to determine the debtor's qualifications to file the petition.