Life And My Finances

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Is Filing For Bankruptcy The Solution


Bankruptcy may seem to be an easy solution for major financial problems. But it is always better to avoid filing bankruptcy at all cost and to turn to it only as a last resort.

Once you file for bankruptcy, this point will remain on your credit record for ten years. This will make it difficult for you to receive loans and credit. Some lenders may allow for limited credit with bankrupt; but only after extensive explanations, and at a higher interest rate and with added credit fees. Another reason for avoiding bankruptcy is that some types of bankruptcy call for repossession of assets. Once the bank finds that there is something with you that is not necessary for living, the item may be seized to pay for debts and bankruptcy expenses.

With bankruptcy, financial difficulty will not be solved and your life becomes an open book as the court pries into all aspects of life wherein you will have to provide all financial information like savings, investments and assets. Though bankruptcy may seem to suggest some freedom from financial debts, there may be other debts that will have to be paid like alimony, court judgment costs or child support.

So keeping these points in mind, it is always better to avoid bankruptcy. Debt consolidation is one of the best means of avoiding bankruptcy. These companies help you by examining your current loans and come up with a program that incorporates all these debts. The company handles the payment to all the creditors; you just have to make a single payment to them every month. They will also get you a lower rate of interest and a longer time period to repay the loans, thus making you save some money.

Easy access to credit cards and credit accounts at department stores has now made it rather easy to fall into debt. It is better to pay bills with cash, and not use credit when money runs low. So cancel the credit card account! If you fall in debt, instead of hiding from the debt companies, it is better to talk to them as they may be able to negotiate and help you solve your debt. It is always better to plan a budget calculating debt ratio to income when in debt. Just write all the bills and expenditure that you have. Then you can determine how much has to be paid for bills, and how much is left for other spending. If required, you can also sell your home and downsize to avoid bankruptcy.

The only benefits of filing for bankruptcy are that the stress of dealing with numerous creditors is relieved. Once bankruptcy is discharged, as most of the debts get written off, creditors cannot pursue them. However, the disadvantages to bankruptcy are many. Businesses can be sold and employees dismissed with bankruptcy. Equity in a home is most likely to be sold as with bankruptcy, reliable assets of value are lost.

Bankruptcy is a costly process where all the fees for courts and trustee are drawn from the debtor’s assets. On filing for bankruptcy, it is not possible to hold certain public offices like MP, magistrate or even practice as an accountant or a solicitor. Moreover, with the new bankruptcy reform law, it is difficult to use Chapter 7 bankruptcy to get a new start in one’s financial lives.

Under the old law, one could file for bankruptcy through Chapter 7 or 13. In Chapter 7, you can keep your exempt property like the equity in your home. Here most of the debts are discharged. However, in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have to agree to pay off all your debts over a period of three to five years. So according to the new bankruptcy law, most of the bankruptcies are forced to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Moreover, according to the new law, you have to meet with a credit counselor for six months before applying for bankruptcy. However, as there are insufficient credit counselors, it is rather hard to accomplish this. It is also required that you attend money management courses at your expense before discharging your debts. However, it is always better to approach a good bankruptcy lawyer before taking any steps!

Is My Money Safe part 2


Banks are rated by independent agencies. The most famous and most reliable of the lot is Fitch Ratings. Another one is Moody’s. These agencies assign letter and number combinations to the banks that reflect their stability. Most agencies differentiate the short term from the long term prospects of the banking institution rated. Some of them even study (and rate) issues, such as the legality of the operations of the bank (legal rating). Ostensibly, all a concerned person has to do, therefore, is to step up to the bank manager, muster courage and ask for the bank's rating. Unfortunately, life is more complicated than rating agencies would have us believe.

They base themselves mostly on the financial results of the bank rated as a reliable gauge of its financial strength or financial profile. Nothing is further from the truth.

Admittedly, the financial results do contain a few important facts. But one has to look beyond the naked figures to get the real – often much less encouraging – picture.

Consider the thorny issue of exchange rates. Financial statements are calculated (sometimes stated in USD in addition to the local currency) using the exchange rate prevailing on the 31st of December of the fiscal year (to which the statements refer). In a country with a volatile domestic currency this would tend to completely distort the true picture. This is especially true if a big chunk of the activity preceded this arbitrary date. The same applies to financial statements, which were not inflation-adjusted in high inflation countries. The statements will look inflated and even reflect profits where heavy losses were incurred. "Average amounts" accounting (which makes use of average exchange rates throughout the year) is even more misleading. The only way to truly reflect reality is if the bank were to keep two sets of accounts: one in the local currency and one in USD (or in some other currency of reference). Otherwise, fictitious growth in the asset base (due to inflation or currency fluctuations) could result.

Another example: in many countries, changes in regulations can greatly effect the financial statements of a bank. In 1996, in Russia, for example, the Bank of Russia changed the algorithm for calculating an important banking ratio (the capital to risk weighted assets ratio).

Unless a Russian bank restated its previous financial statements accordingly, a sharp change in profitability appeared from nowhere.

The net assets themselves are always misstated: the figure refers to the situation on 31/12. A 48-hour loan given to a collaborating client can inflate the asset base on the crucial date. This misrepresentation is only mildly ameliorated by the introduction of an "average assets" calculus. Moreover, some of the assets can be interest earning and performing – others, non-performing. The maturity distribution of the assets is also of prime importance. If most of the bank's assets can be withdrawn by its clients on a very short notice (on demand) – it can swiftly find itself in trouble with a run on its assets leading to insolvency.