Fresh Financial Starts at Tax Time
Apr 27, 2014 01:38AM
● By Jo Anne Shumard, J.D.
Who really looks forward to sending Uncle Sam our tax returns? Let’s face it. Although we may dread it, tax time has its advantages. At least we know how much we made last year. A lot of us may wonder where all that money went. Some folks are even lucky enough to receive a tax refund. However, before using that refund to book a Caribbean cruise, take a deep breath and look at where you are financially.
The real question is not how much you made last year, but how much debt you are in despite what you made. Specifically, how much debt did you acquire just last year? That is the exact amount you are currently spending that is outside your current financial means. Then, take a look at the grand total of your debt. Can you foresee paying it off within the next 24-36 months? If so, put that plan into action beginning with your tax refund.
However, like many people, you may be living on the equivalent of two of your paychecks while you only have one coming in. And, there may be no foreseeable way to pay off the debt that increases every year. We all know that it’s a tough economy in our neck of the woods, and there are many reasons that may have contributed to where you are now. Whatever the reasons, the cold hard numbers are where to begin. Release the rest. That is the only way to see your finances with clarity and claim a fresh financial start.
This is where a tax refund can change your life—literally. If you can, begin executing your 24-36 month debt payoff plan with your refund. If not, instead of skipping off to the Bahamas, use that refund to get advice from a bankruptcy professional who can assess whether you are a candidate for a financial fresh start. That tax refund may be just enough to get your case filed and claim a new life. How do you know if you should even consider talking to a bankruptcy attorney? Here are some warning signs of financial crisis to help you figure that out:
Does your debt make you feel hopeless?
Does the idea of answering the phone or walking to the mailbox make your stomach turn?
Are you having trouble sleeping because you are thinking about your creditors?
Do you argue about money with people you love?
Are you borrowing money from family members or friends?
Are you unable to save money for your future?
Have you or are you considering borrowing money from your retirement account to pay debt?
If you find yourself answering yes to any one of these, ask a bankruptcy attorney who specializes in this area to help you assess your situation. Right after tax time may be the best time for your financial fresh start.
Jo Anne Shumard is an author, consumer advocate and Satellite Beach bankruptcy attorney who served many years with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida as both Legal Advisor and Judicial Law Clerk. In her 25-year career in bankruptcy and litigation, she has counseled clients troubled by their financial condition. Ms. Shumard is currently available by appointment in Satellite Beach for Brevard County residents seeking a fresh financial start. 407- 927-0767 or [email protected].