Khan Academy: Can it help you make more money?

Bank of America TV ads draw attention to their partnership with the Khan Academy, the non-profit educational organization on a mission to provide “a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.[i]” The Khan Academy was founded by former hedge fund analyst, Sal Khan, born and raised in Louisiana and with an impressive resume and educational background. Khan, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Google, is now being recognized as a household name since so many large companies are getting involved to fund this non-profit website offering education to anyone, anywhere, at no charge.

Khan Academy is a different kind of education website and as more people learn about it, they are sharing why they spend time on the site.

Critics of online education frequently suggest there is no substitute for traditional classroom settings with interactions among students and teachers. This site is not part of that grudge match, because Khan Academy does not pitch itself as a substitute for degreed education programs and universities, rather it is a free resource for people who want to learn specific information on their own time and pace and from wherever they access Khan Academy, such as from any computer or mobile device.

What you can learn on Khan Academy is seemingly unlimited. Right now, the site offers education resources in the form of video tutorials, lectures, problem solving exercises, social comment, and interaction chats where you can ask any question and others may offer their input. The subjects available to Khan Academy students include just about everything taught in traditional pre-college level education and beyond.

You can use some of the lessons in Khan Academy improve at work, study for a promotion or start your own business on the side.

Being well into a career does not mean there is no need to continue pursuing education. In fact, the most successful careers involve frequent continuing education in specific areas. Not having gone to college should and not having time do enroll in night school should not be a deterrent to people who want to learn more and get ahead at work or get a better job.

The entrepreneurship focus on the Khan Academy website is significant. Many well-known CEOs are contributors to the library of lessons and content available free on Khan Academy. See Interviews with entrepreneurs for personal lessons.

Community questions offer a forum, we hope everyone takes seriously, to ask and get answers.

A recent question posted on the Community Questions page for entrepreneurs reads, “At what point in the business is it big enough to get a professional accounting service.” One response to the question suggested the person consider setting up an internal accounting department. The first person might next do some research about hiring a part-time employee with accounting experience. If that part-time employee only works a few hours a week it could be more affordable than outsourcing those tasks.

Remember, knowledge is power. The more you know, the more you can see new options to make more money and get a better job and career. Sometimes people need to change gears in life and pursue a career in a new direction. Sites like the Khan Academy can be useful springboards to new opportunities.

Joseph Wrobel and the attorneys and staff at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., work hard to help people turn their lives in the right financial direction, writing and sharing content that helps clients learn, grow and prosper.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’sFacebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. onTwitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

[i] Khan Academy website, about page.

Bankruptcy Basics: A Closer Look At Chapter 13 Reorganization

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

CLICK/TAP HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST NOW

Topics covered in this 30 minute show:

  • What exactly is Chapter 13 bankruptcy, who can file and what does it do?
  • What happens to my home or real estate as Chapter 13 payments are made?
  • Can Chapter 13 bankruptcy help with my student loans or IRS debt?
  • Can Chapter 13 affect a suspended drivers license for failure to pay tickets?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Small businesses and bankruptcy: A few things to consider when deciding whether to close up shop

When the economy plunged in the last recession, many people lost their jobs and could not find work. Some people took the opportunity to go into business own their own. With nothing to lose, many found their entrepreneurial spirit and set up websites and printed business cards to work as consultants in some fashion related to their set of skills and experiences. In the process, and as the economy slowly rebounded, some people did really well for themselves and others did not. Most success stories (more like survival stories) come from people who kept their debt and overhead low when going out on their own. The people who borrowed operating capital or sunk their life savings into a new venture did not always do as well as the others with less to lose if the new gig did not work out.

If a new business venture fails, there are several considerations to review when the owner needs to get out from under a failing business.

Thinking positively, as if anything is possible, consider whether the business is making money and if it can be saved with a capital injection. When cash flow is a problem and the bills need to be paid, an outside investor might be persuaded to add some money to the business in exchange for a percentage of profits. If the business makes money at different times of the year, such as a seasonally booming business, some outside money can make it easier to get through the slow times of year.

If business starts to slow down month after month with no sign of improvement it might be time to cut further losses and get out completely. In recent quarters, the economy has looked good and companies are hiring. Stepping away from a business venture to get back into a full time job is not a sign of weakness, rather think of the sign of strength and resolve a person must have to launch a small business venture in the first place.

When deciding to close the doors on a small business, there may be a few important business and legal decisions to make.

If a business closes with outstanding debts and liabilities there are a few options available, based on how the business was structured. A properly formed corporation may only have liability for assets in the business. Otherwise, a sole proprietor doing business on their own under a business name may be personally liable for any debts they incurred in the business. Additionally, some lenders putting money into small corporations require the borrower to sign with personal liability on money lent to the corporation. If creditors are going to go after your personal assets to get paid for debts of the business, a bankruptcy might protect you.

There are forms of bankruptcy relief and protection for individuals and small businesses. Once a bankruptcy petition is filed with the court the automatic stay provision kicks in and creditors must stop all collection activity and they cannot make contact with you during the period of time the bankruptcy case is ongoing. While a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can discharge the debts of the business, some people make too much money and do not qualify for Chapter 7. The alternative relief in Chapter 13 allows a reorganization (and partial discharge) of debts and provides for a repayment plan to the trustee while the individual gets back on their feet.

If you are interested in a review of a small business and its debts and want to know your options, Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. can help you with a free consultation so you understand all the available options.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

You are not a bad person for discharging a money judgment in bankruptcy

Once a month Chicago bankruptcy attorney Joseph Wrobel answers frequently asked questions on the Chicago Bankruptcy Update Internet radio podcast. One of the questions on this month’s program involved the potential discharge of a money judgment. The individual wanted to know if they can file for bankruptcy and include a judgment for money ordered by a local court. The judgment is currently being repaid through a wage garnishment. Listen to September’s FAQ in bankruptcy radio show.

Here was the specific question: “In 2009, I returned a vehicle for which I could no longer pay due to death of my husband and my being laid off. The financial company sued me and is now garnishing my wages at 15%. Can I include the remaining balance and stop the garnishment in Chapter 7 bankruptcy?”

Joe’s answer based on the information provided: Yes, a judgment is just another debt that can be discharged. When you owe money to a person or company and you don’t pay them, they go to court and get a judgment against you, ordering you to pay the money or the court will allow the debtor to collect it from you with the power of the court, including actions like wage garnishments. When you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, the individual garnishing your wages and any other bill and debt collection activities must stop and are forbidden during the bankruptcy as a matter of federal law.

A judgment to pay another is not a moral issue or punishment for failure to pay.

Many people think that a judgment for an amount of money is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. This is not true at all. While criminal courts ‘punish’ people for breaking criminal laws and causing harm to victims and society, a small claims or civil court is never punitive. The civil court could in many cases care less why the debt wasn’t paid, unless your credibility is otherwise at issue in the lawsuit. The civil court that enters a judgment against you simply applies the law to the facts presented to them. If you owe money, they can order you to pay. That is all.

When you file a petition for bankruptcy protection the automatic stay provision kicks in and the collection activity, in this case a garnishment, must stop during the time the bankruptcy case is ongoing. Your attorney, assuming you hire one, will send a notice to whomever manages your wage garnishment and it must stop. If the judgment amount is included in the list of debts to be discharged, the discharge notice will also be sent to whomever is collection on the judgment as well as with whomever obtained or now owns that judgment.

Deciding whether bankruptcy protection may be the answer to your financial problems requires knowing the law and how it can help you.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

Bankruptcy Basics: September Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

CLICK/TAP HERE TO LISTEN NOW

Topics and types of FAQ covered in this 30 minute show:

  • What happens to a judgment from an uninsured car accident if I file for bankruptcy?
  • Can a 19 year old student loan for $12,000.00 be included in bankruptcy?
  • I am waiting for an insurance proceeds check, will  I be able to keep the money?
  • Can I include a judgment that garnishes my wages when I file for bankruptcy?

 

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy Site online for more about the firm. You may also contact Joseph Wrobel for more information at (312) 781-0996 and by e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com

 

How the FDCPA and the automatic stay help stop bill collectors from harassing you

Do you enjoy being harassed by bill collectors who ask excessive invasive questions and never seem to let up? Nobody enjoys harassment by creditors. There are several ways you can protect yourself from the harassment including making them stop calling you for good if you decide that the relief offered by the bankruptcy courts will put you in a better place. If you do not qualify or feel the need to discharge debts, but you still want the harassment to stop, you should get to know the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”).

The law in the FDCPA says debt collectors are not allowed to harass, oppress, or abuse you or anyone else they contact. The following are a few of examples of harassment[i]:

  • Repetitious phone calls that are intended to annoy, abuse, or harass you or any person answering the phone;
  • Obscene or profane language;
  • Threats of violence or harm;
  • Publishing lists of people who refuse to pay their debts;
  • Calling you without telling you who they are.

The FDCPA also says that debt collectors cannot use false, deceptive, or misleading practices. These are several examples of misrepresentations about the debt at issue[ii]:

  • The amount owed;
  • That the person is an attorney;
  • False threats to have you arrested;
  • Threats to do things that cannot legally be done;
  • Threats to do things that the debt collector has no intention of doing.

It might be a good idea to print a copy of this list of harassing conduct and otherwise inappropriate behavior and keep it near your phone. If a creditor seems to step out of line, ask them for their name and operator identification number and let them know you are concerned they are violating the FDCPA and you are warning them to stop the harassment. Many will apologize and take another approach to collect a debt. If they disagree and continue causing you problems you can submit a complaint with the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) by calling (855) 411-2372. The CFPB may also take an online complaint through their website. Additionally, you can file a report with the office of the Illinois Attorney General.

The automatic stay provision in the bankruptcy code can also stop bill collectors in their tracks.

When an individual files a petition for bankruptcy protection an automatic provision of the bankruptcy kicks in – the automatic stay. While a bankruptcy case is active, the that a Chapter 7 or 13, no creditors or collectors may contact or harass the individual in bankruptcy. To learn more, read Chicago bankruptcy attorney Joseph Wrobel’s article, “Examples of the automatic stay and how it operates in bankruptcy law.”

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

[i] U.S. Govt. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, What is harassment by a debt collector? Updated 9/15/2014.

[ii] See HNi above

Discharging medical bills in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy: Don and Jessica’s story

Unpaid medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy. Nearly two million people a year people file for bankruptcy because there is no way they will ever be able to pay their large medical debts. Next to medical bills, credit card debt and unpaid mortgages are the other leading factors causing people to seek bankruptcy protection and often a discharge of those large and growing balances. Accidents and chronic illness can come from nowhere and wipe people out financially, despite years of savings and financial planning.

Jessica always did everything right and was blind sighted by a fall during a routine medical visit.

Two years ago, Jessica (she’s a hypothetical person) went to the doctor for a routine mammogram. She was 43 years old and in perfect health until the technician operating the medical equipment made a mistake and possibly causing Jessica to stumble and fall backward, hitting her head on a table as she fell.

A week before her routine visit to the doctor, Jessica was promoted at her marketing firm and was looking forward to going out to celebrate with some friends. She never left the hospital.

Jessica’s husband Don arrived to find his wife of 18 years in the ICU, unconscious. Fearing the worst, Don was thrilled to see Jessica wake up and say his name. Confused, she asked him why she was in the hospital. He explained that she had fallen during the mammogram. She did not remember. He thought nothing of it assumed trauma blocked the memory.

Jessica suffered short term memory loss and was unable to do her job. She tried going to work but kept making mistakes and her firm had to let her go due to her injuries. Unable to earn an income, Jessica’s ongoing therapy for her head injury sent her in and out of doctors offices and hospitals because things started getting worse and other symptoms suggested there was more going on than the doctors thought.

Don and Jessica saved for retirement and her accident wiped them out.

When Jessica’s insurance was maxed out and she had trouble getting new insurance at the time, and Don didn’t have any insurance through his carpet installation job. She and Don turned to their savings. It went quickly. Don picked up extra labor work and barely had time to see his sick wife. Needing to pay up front for certain procedures and medications, other bills were not getting paid. Don’s phone was constantly ringing with collectors on the other end, or the hospital, every 10th phone call. Don no longer recognized his life.

Jessica started getting better and although she couldn’t go back to work due to permanent memory loss problems, her other motor skill and respiratory symptoms were improved. Trying to move forward with their new life together was difficult, especially when Don could barely afford to take them out for dinner.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is Don and Jessica’s best option.

Jessica learned that she qualified for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. She also learned that even though she would not be liable for the medical bills after discharge, the collectors would go after Don for those payments. Jessica and Don are going to file a joint husband and wife bankruptcy petition so the massive medical bills go away for good, for both of them. Worried about the incredible payments, Don didn’t even realize that filing for bankruptcy will also stop the phone from ringing off the hook. The automatic stay provision will prevent anyone from contacting him or taking action to collect certain debts, such as the medical bills for anything incurred prior to the filing date of the bankruptcy.

Jessica also worked it out with the hospital so that she could continue treating with her regular physician and found a private program to help with her medication. Don and Jessica are hopeful that they will have many good years together and they are adjusting well to their new life after the accident. A lawsuit has been pending for over a year and they are hopeful a settlement will help them pay for future expenses if and when Don can retire. A situation that seemed hopeless is starting to look up.

Even tragedy can be overcome with a sense of purpose, some planning and the right professional help.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’s Facebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

 

Ask an anonymous bankruptcy question for our radio show!

Do you have questions about bankruptcy and have a specific situation that causes you to believe bankruptcy protection might save the day? Once a month, Joseph Wrobel appears on the Chicago Bankruptcy Update, an Internet radio show/podcast as he teaches basic bankruptcy concepts while answering real questions about bankruptcy from real people.

If you have a bankruptcy law question for attorney Joseph Wrobel, you can send him an e-mail at josephwrobel@chicagobankruptcy.com and he will read it on an upcoming episode of the Chicago Bankruptcy Update. Please write “radio show question” in the subject line so your question can be included.

Important Disclaimer:

Please understand a few disclaimers: (1) answers to questions read on the show do not constitute legal advice; (2) asking a question to be answered does not create an attorney/client relationships; (3) the radio show is for education and entertainment purposes only.

Joseph Wrobel takes his time to appear on the Chicago Bankruptcy Update for many reasons, mostly to help you, the person who may need bankruptcy information, gets the real information you need without a “sales pitch.” Joseph Wrobel has been an active bankruptcy attorney for more than 40 years and has seen just about everything. As a result, he quickly thinks of the types of situations that are challenging in bankruptcy law.

Joseph Wrobel is changing how people look at bankruptcy. Do not be afraid of taking control.

Attorney Wrobel also knows that too many people are afraid to admit financial defeat, afraid to talk to a lawyer, and afraid of losing their home, car and possessions. There are many instances in which people will not lose everything, will not have to worry, and will be able to start over fresh, without all the debt and harassment from creditors.

If you want to stop the phone calls, wage garnishments and get a better financial attitude, take Attorney Wrobel’s advice and ask the real questions so you can get the real answers. The only bad questions are the questions never asked.

We hope you join us and share your hypothetical question for an upcoming radio show episode.

At Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., we all hope you enjoy our monthly radio show and share it with other people you know might be too shy or ashamed to ask for help. Together we can make a difference.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’sFacebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. onTwitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

The dangers of do-it-yourself bankruptcy: There is no substitute for professional experience

It seems to be human nature for people to ask questions of their friends and neighbors first, before seeking the advice of professionals. Nowadays, people also read news articles, blogs and materials on websites to do their research before making a decision on a significant life event. This is particularly true in legal matters affecting the public. This is particularly evident in bankruptcy law.

Do you or someone you know have experience with a bankruptcy case? How long ago was it? What were the facts and circumstances? The responses to the last two questions could lead into an exhausting set of examples where what was true for one person at one time, may be quite different from the next. Take into consideration that your friend or neighbor, telling you about their success in bankruptcy, might leave out some significant details.

A “routine” new client meeting comes with a bit of a surprise to the “well researched” new client.

Consider the following scenario: A man makes an appointment with the bankruptcy attorney because he is out of work, has injuries, and is temporarily unable to work. The man reports that he lives in the city, he rents an apartment and does not own a car or any significant assets other than personal items and a small amount in a bank account. He reports he was injured and lost his job, received workers compensation benefits that ran out and he is receiving harassing calls from credit card companies and collection agents, generally. The man suggests his is a simple bankruptcy that should be open and closed so he can move forward and get a fresh start. Sometimes, however, it is not that easy.

As the attorney asks the man to list all the creditors calling him to collect, things seem pretty normal until he mentions that the local State’s Attorney is after him for child support arrears and he may be facing jail time for failure to comply with the court’s orders to seek employment, keep a job diary, etc. Unfortunately, the attorney reports, you cannot get a bankruptcy discharge of child support payments, maintenance, and support orders entered by a family court.

It is easy to make wrong assumptions in good faith if you do not know the law.

In this case, the man seeking to avoid child support payments might have legitimately assumed that child support debts are like any other debts and he would be able to discharged. He may have honestly believed they would be included in the bankruptcy and he could start out with a clean slate, no longer being in hot water with the State’s Attorney seeking to collect for monies already paid by the State Disbursement Unit to the child support recipient parent. This could have turned out poorly for this man had he attempted to navigate the bankruptcy courts on his own without an attorney.

Ignorance of the law is not justification for breaking the law. If the individual in our hypothetical had filed a petition for bankruptcy on his own and withheld information about his child support obligation, he could have been in trouble for committing a fraud on the bankruptcy court. Otherwise, if he had included the child support amounts in his petition, he would have likely been promptly notified by the bankruptcy court that this was not an option.

Don’t get caught in a surprise moment. Take the time to get proper legal advice.

In over 40 years of bankruptcy practice, Joseph Wrobel has heard it all, or close to it. If you do not qualify for bankruptcy, or the only reason you want to file bankruptcy is to accomplish something you cannot, like discharging child support, Joseph Wrobel will tell you in a free initial consultation to help you determine if Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy options are available and likely to solve your financial troubles.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’sFacebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. onTwitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

Bankruptcy Basics: August Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

CLICK/TAP HERE TO LISTEN NOW

Topics and types of FAQ covered in this 30 minute show:

  • How are lawsuits already scheduled for mediation affected by a bankruptcy filing?
  • Can I easily find information on the web regarding my bankruptcy case and dispositions?
  • After I receive my bankruptcy discharge letter, how do the reporting agencies know?
  • Can you file bankruptcy if you have been out of work with no income for two years?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy Site online for more about the firm. You may also contact Joseph Wrobel for more information at (312) 781-0996 and by e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com