Client Bulletin: Are Debts Ruining Your Life?

J Thomas Black
Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization

Dear Friends and Colleagues:
THE HOLIDAYS ARE ALMOST HERE.

DON’T GO “DEBTING” YOURSELF INTO TROUBLE!

A FEW OF MY CLIENTs, OK more than a few, have a spending problem. I’m the opposite, just going into a mall causes me to feel like I’m going to have a panic attack.

But I have many clients that admit to me that they compulsively spend their way into debt. It is a serious addiction. Debtors Anonymous refers to this as “debting.”

The Houston Debtors Anonymous website says that most compulsive debtors will answer yes to at least eight of the following 15 questions:

1. Are your debts making your home life unhappy?
2. Does the pressure of your debts distract you from your daily work?
3. Are your debts affecting your reputation?
4. Do your debts cause you to think less of yourself?
5. Have you ever given false information in order to obtain credit?
6. Have you ever made unrealistic promises to your creditors?
7. Does the pressure of your debts make you careless of the welfare of your family?
8. Do you ever fear that your employer, family or friends will learn the extent of your total indebtedness?
9. When faced with a difficult financial situation, does the prospect of borrowing give you an inordinate feeling of relief?
10. Does the pressure of your debts cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
11. Has the pressure of your debts ever caused you to consider getting drunk?
12. Have you ever borrowed money without giving adequate consideration to the rate of interest you are required to pay?
13. Do you usually expect a negative response when you are subject to a credit investigation?
14. Have you ever developed a strict regimen for paying off your debts, only to break it under pressure?
15. Do you justify your debts by telling yourself that you are superior to the “other” people, and when you get your “break” you’ll be out of debt overnight?

If your answers indicate that you have a problem, there is help available. The Debtors Anonymous website is at www.dahouston.org or you can call the Houston DA Intergroup Office at 713-520-7999.


If I were asked to give what I consider the single most useful bit of advice for all humanity, it would he this: Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye, and say: “I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.”
—Ann Landers

People can be divided into three groups: the haves, the have-nots, and the haven’t-paid-for-what-they-gots.

—Earl Wilson


How To Improve Your Credit Score.

I encourage my clients to rebuild their credit score after bankruptcy, even if they don’t intend to use credit anytime soon. Credit scores are used not only in granting credit, but also in deciding whether or not you can get insurance, a rent house or apartment, utilities, cell phone service, or a job. To improve it:

1. Make sure your credit report is accurate. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to obtain free annual credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. You can also purchase your credit score if you wish. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll free 877-322-8228. Dispute inaccurate information.

2. Pay your bills on time. Well, duh. But no kidding, you can recover your credit quickly after a bankruptcy if you pay your bills on time. I have clients that get into the mid-600′s after one year, and into the 700′s after two years. But if you pay bills late, forget about it.

3. Don’t max out. Credit scoring uses something called “utilization ratios” that evaluates you based on how much of your available credit that you use. If your balance is close to your credit limit, that is a negative.

4. Keep the accounts a long time. Scoring systems consider the length of your credit track record. Think twice before canceling an old card, it could nick your credit score.

5. Don’t apply for credit too much. “Inquiries” make it look like you are going wild with credit, and hurts your score. Only apply for credit when you really need it, or your score will suffer.

6. Don’t have too many accounts. It’s a plus to have established credit, but too many accounts hurt your credit. Also, some scoring systems deduct points if you have certain kinds of debts, like finance companies. ■


A little humor

A Texan’s Guide To Life

Don’t squat with your spurs on.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a lot easier’n puttin’ it back in.

If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.

After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.

Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

There’s two theories to arguin’ with a woman. Neither one works. (more next month)


Are bill collectors threatening to take your home or garnish your wages?

Are they threatening to do anything else that they are not allowed to by law?

Is your mortgage company charging you fees and costs that are not due? Are you just overwhelmed with debt? If any of these situations describes you, contact Mr. Black at 713-772-8037 or send him an email at [email protected]


Notice: Tax Preparation Now Offered

Many of my clients ask us for help with tax return preparation. Beginning this year, we will be offering income tax preparation services for a limited number of clients. If you need your tax return prepared, call 713-772-8037 and ask for Rob Heinly.


ARE YOU IN CHAPTER 13 NOW? Always keep the law office updated with your current address, telephone numbers, and email address. We may need to reach you quickly. 24 hours/7 days a week, you can check on the status of your Trustee payments, how much you still owe on your case, etc., by going to www.13datacenter.com to set up your user ID and password. Lose job or overtime? Expenses increase? Want to give up property to lower payments? Go to www.jthomasblack.com , click on “Current Clients Click Her” on home page, and fill out the Motion to Modify worksheet. Fax to office at 713-772-5058. We’ll review it and contact you if a change to your plan is possible.