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Monmouth County Bankruptcy Law Blog

New Jersey residents' debt often exceeds the national average

Researchers with the Urban Institute have determined that at least 28 percent of all New Jersey residents have bills that are so long overdue that they've been turned over to collections. While this statewide average is at least five percentage points lower than the national one, that's far from the case in at least nine counties in New Jersey. In those, the collections rate of residents either meets or surpasses the national one.

The nine counties with the highest collections rates in the state are Passaic, Essex, Camden, Union, Hudson, Atlantic, Salem, Cumberland and Mercer.

Are you making the most of your credit card payments?

If one of your resolutions for 2018 is to pay down or even pay off your credit card balances, you should know that experts say there's a way to do it that will help you optimize your payments and ultimately lessen the interest you accrue. Of course, interest is a significant amount of many people's credit card balances.

The first step is to determine how much money you have to devote to credit card payments. Then, calculate how much of that is needed to pay the minimum balance on each of your cards. Whatever money you have left over for credit card payments should be used to pay down the card with the highest interest rate. This may take some searching through the fine print on your credit card statement, but it will be worth it.

Future of New Jersey homeowner aid programs uncertain

New Jersey remains one of the hardest-hit states when it comes to home foreclosures. Nearly 68,000 properties are currently in foreclosure. In every month since Sept. 2015, our state has ranked first or second in the number of foreclosures filed.

The foreclosure crisis began in New Jersey, as it did throughout the country, when the housing bubble burst a decade ago. Some newer legal rulings and economic problems have contributed to the problem. Of course, Hurricane Sandy also added to the "perfect storm of issues" faced by New Jersey homeowners, as an executive with one foreclosure tracking company put it.

Can bankruptcy be your best route out of debt?

If your resolution for the new year is to get out from under your debt, you may have considered and then quickly tossed aside the option of bankruptcy. Many people still view it as an admission of failure. They may be afraid of the potential ramifications on their credit score. However, bankruptcy is often the best way to deal with overwhelming debt and take control of your financial life again.

There are two primary personal bankruptcy alternatives: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Not everyone can qualify for Chapter 7 because their income is too high. However, if you do, you can get rid of a good portion of your debt by allowing certain assets to be sold.

What bankruptcy cannot touch

A New Jersey bankruptcy can be the light at the end of a long dark tunnel. It often provides hardworking people with a new start when financial issues, often outside of their control, have taken over their daily lives.

But, to be clear, while bankruptcy can do wonders, there are areas of debt that are off limits. Despite the misconceptions of some when it comes to bankruptcy, a person will not be able to discharge the following debts, in most instances.

When is it time to take serious steps to reduce your debt?

If being in debt has become the norm for you, as it is for many people, it may be hard to determine just when you have too much.

What are some key objective criteria you can evaluate to determine if you have more debt than you should? Following are a few.

  • You're paying for everyday expenses with credit cards and other types of loans or you're using one credit card to make payments on another.
  • You're using funds from your "emergency savings" or even your regular savings accounts for every unexpected expense. That money (which should be enough to live on for at least several months) is for a true emergency like a car crash that sends you to the hospital or losing your job.
  • You're alternating which payments you make each month. Perhaps one month you pay your student loan and skip your mortgage payment or you alternate which credit card payments you make.

3 myths about mortgage loan modification

A majority of homeowners have to make regular mortgage payments. According to figures offered by FiveThirtyEight, only about one out of every three American homeowners have paid off their mortgages in full.

At one point or another, many homeowners need to go through mortgage loan modification. This is a process in which the homeowner and bank change certain aspects of the initial agreement to make it easier for the homeowner to make timely payments. It can be crucial for you to undergo this under specific circumstances, so it is important to debunk certain myths that persist regarding the practice.

Survey: Millennials have a healthy fear of credit card debt

Recently, we discussed the high amount of credit card debt held by Generation Xers and the fact that it's keeping some from saving for retirement, which is growing near for many of them. Their children, popularly referred to as millennials (those 18 to 34 years old), seem to have a healthier respect for the importance of preventing credit card debt from overwhelming them -- and even a fear of it.

In fact, in a recent survey conducted by Credible.com, millennials listed credit card debt above dying and war as the thing they found most frightening in their lives. A third put credit card debt at the top of their list, while over 20 percent said dying and almost 17 percent said war.

Can a short sale help me avoid foreclosure?

If you realize you can no longer afford your home in New Jersey, you may find yourself wondering if a short sale can help. With it, you can sell your home, move into an affordable place and say goodbye to your mortgage payments. It may seem like the perfect solution for you to avoid foreclosure, especially if you owe more on the home than it is worth.

There is a downside to short sales that could create financial challenges for you in the following tax year. Before you sign any papers to start the process, consider the following information.

Credit card debt preventing retirement saving for many GenXers

When people carry a significant amount of credit card debt, virtually every area of their financial lives can be impacted. That includes how much money, if any, they're saving for retirement.

The younger generation of adults, known as millennials, seems to have an overall aversion to credit card debt. In a recent study, one third said it was the most frightening thing in their lives -- more than death or war.

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At the law offices of William H. Oliver, Jr. & Associates in Toms River and Lakewood, New Jersey, we represent clients in Toms River, Neptune, Trenton, Middletown, Red Bank, Wall, Lakewood, Lakehurst, Manchester, Asbury Park, Old Bridge, Jamesburg, Barnegat, Forked River, Manahawkin, Ocean Township, Brick, Manasquan, Howell, Freehold, Hazlet, Bradley Beach, Brown Mills, Long Branch, Keansburg, Marlboro, Bayville, Beachwood, Whiting, Sayreville, South River, East Brunswick, Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Burlington County and Mercer County.