Whether you filed bankruptcy a month ago or just made the 60th payment of your Chapter 13 Plan, you may wonder why you have to take a financial management class. If you find information you wish you had known a long time ago, don't look back, remember it's what you do in the future that counts. This course is about looking forward, setting new goals, and preparing for great things ahead.
It’s time to look forward. You can’t change the past, but you can learn from it. What’s important to you? Don't use the standards of other people, including friends and well-meaning family members. Set new goals and make plans to achieve them. Your goals will help you organize your life and it will become easier to make decisions about what you want and what you truly need. Your attitude and time management skills will make a difference. Put your failures in perspective and celebrate your successes.
Where do you stand – financially - right now? Do you know how much money you have to pay your bills each month? Where and how much do you spend each day, week, month? You need an emergency fund in the event of a big, unexpected expense. Learn the suggested guidelines for allocating your monthly income and how you can adjust your spending habits.
Learn how to analyze your shopping habits and how they contribute to or detract from you goals - or pull you away from your plans. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Learn the tactics used by retailers to trick you into buying on impulse. What role will debt and credit play in your future? We live in a credit based society. If you want a good credit score, you have to use credit, but what is a safe amount? Learn to play the credit game safely and win.
Information is in abundance online, but some resources are more trustworthy than others. Protect yourself from Identity Theft. Learn to analyze various sources of information. Research large purchases before you buy. Know where you can get ongoing credit counseling assistance. Reach out to support groups that can help you stay on track to accomplish your goals. Know the debt warning signs.
Harry and Rosemarie were doing OK financially, both were working, but Rosemarie had too many credit cards. Their mortgage company started encouraging them to refinance their home and cash out the equity; she knew the money would help her pay off her cards. At the time they could afford the higher mortgage payment, but their income decreased and one of their autos was repossessed. They filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to protect their home and get out of debt. Over the next 60 months in the plan, Rosemarie credited Harry’s discipline in managing their money with changing their spending patterns. They ate at home more, did not drive the car unless it was necessary, and bought only clothes they needed. After their last plan payment was made, they obtained a secured credit card, charged their Christmas purchases, and paid them all off in January instead taking a year to do it. Living without credit for 5 years taught them they could live on what they made. They determined never to be in debt again, except for their mortgage.
Wish I would have known this information earlier in life.
S.G., New City, NY