Tag Archives: Financial success

To buy or rent in Chicago, a few things to consider

While some people are only interested in owning their home, others are quite satisfied renting for the foreseeable future. As real estate and financial markets change we often see news stories with industry leaders telling us it is a good time to be selling a home or whether it is a good time to buy. Not everyone is in the position to buy a home and many are content with renting forever. While financial experts tell you that building equity in a home is the best way to be prepared for the future and retirement, there are plenty of alternative ways to save for the future and continue renting.

What are some of the barriers to buying a home if the conditions are right?

The first thing most people think about when buying a home is saving up to make a 20% down payment, however a good credit score may be the most frequent concern, especially for people who have struggled with job loss or financial difficulties. The good news on credit is that when you follow a few steps and practice smart credit your score will improve, often quicker than you realize. Read our blog article about credit repair for more information.

When it comes to money down, you might qualify for one of the programs for buyers backed by the government. There are veteran’s loans, FHA loans and similar programs where there is no down payment required. You must meet income criteria, which many easily satisfy.

Why some homeowners are jealous of their friends who rent their homes.

Taxes on homes in the Chicago area are a significant concern for homeowners. Over time, taxes increase and homeowners must follow procedures to challenge their tax rate. Meanwhile, renters aren’t worried about tax rates, and if they have been renting their home for some time, they may be paying significantly less than the current market rental rates.

Homeowners may be jealous of their renting friends who do not have to spend their extra time and money repairing hail damaged roofs, windows, air conditioners and so forth, on a seemingly endless list. Renters are also the envy of homeowners who get new neighbors that frustrate their living situation. It is not so easy to pick up and move, especially if the housing market is not in favor of sellers.

Saving money for the future without having equity in a home can be easy.

While the traditional plan for many was to pay off their house before they retire so they only must pay tax and not a mortgage, many people today elect to rent. The overall cost of home ownership versus renting can be a close equation. If while the homeowner spends money on repairing a roof, the renter puts that same amount of money in an investment, they may be in a good position to start and continue saving for the future.

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue 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.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

How well do you know reverse mortgages?

By now, anyone who watches TV has likely seen advertisements for reverse mortgages. Targeted towards senior citizens who own their homes free and clear. Ads highlight that the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) insures over 98 percent of all the reverse mortgages in United States. A reverse mortgage loan allows a home owner, at least 62 years of age, to convert the equity in their home into cash. Some people take monthly payments, lines of credit as well as lump sums of cash as needed. The loan against the equity in the home is secured by the home itself.

When the owner passes away the loan becomes due in full and is often taken from the proceeds of the sale of the home. In other cases, a life insurance policy may be used to repay the loan if home and other property is given to others in a will. The lenders offering reverse mortgages charge fees and surcharges along the way. These fees and the terms of the loan are a function of the life expectancy of the home owner, the value of the home and other factors.

Doing your research is important. The more you can learn about the pros and cons of reverse mortgages, the better decisions you and your family can make.

As the reverse mortgage ads suggest, the children of aging parents can be involved in the process of researching reverse mortgage loans and the lenders. Even if your parents are well-able to manage their financial affairs, it is always helpful to get another opinion, especially when there are so many new financial opportunities for seniors budgeting for and funding their retirement years. While researching, pay attention to credible alerts and warnings published online. Be careful because in the sea of information there is plenty of what looks like news but is really advertising telling you that reverse mortgages are risk free and there is never a need to look any further.

The loans are only as good as the lenders. Homeowners considering reverse mortgages should be notified by their lender that while the reverse mortgage is in place, the homeowner must still pay taxes and insurance on the property and that is not something covered by the lender. Lenders may also charge high fees on loans and get away with it when working with seniors who may have less bargaining power in negotiating the terms of the loan. It is important to know what financial terms are reasonable in the current time and market. Knowing what the competition is offering makes it easier to negotiate a fair reverse mortgage loan.

Beware of what you are risking with reverse mortgage loans and be vigilant. If you must, hire a professional to help you negotiate a better deal and avoid the awful stories told by several loan victims.

Read these stories at Center for American Progress: Treasury Secretary Nominee Steve Mnuchin’s Bet Against Seniors:

  • Only press coverage stopped the eviction of a 103-year-old grandmother on a technicality
  • 92-year-old widow evicted for 27-cent shortfall
  • Foreclosure actions that defy common sense

At Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., we help get our clients a fresh start at financial success. We feel strongly that everyone should be financially successful when they have the right tools and knowledge to make the best deals that protect their savings and help grow for the future.

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue 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.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

5 ways to save money as business activity picks up now that the elections are over

Business and the economy generally, tend to slow down during election cycles. People are not spending as much money in retail stores and they seem to not make large purchases when the media tells them various reports about the state of the world and our country. It is also common for employers not to be hiring as many new employees during the tail end of an election cycle. Why does everything slow down? Humans do not like uncertainty. In a world of uncertainty, the natural reaction is to hold onto what you have and wait out the doubt. When the dust settles, and it always does, business and the economy picks up again and people have more money.

Here are a few things you can do to have a positive attitude to lead to new financial success:

  1. Apply for a new job.

Even if you are doing well, you can look for a job that makes more money. The most employable people are the ones who are happily employed. Of course, keep your job hunt quiet, don’t jeopardize your current position. If you are unemployed, remind yourself that the election is over and companies are going to start hiring again. Keep a positive attitude and you will find the perfect job you love.

  1. Start your own business.

While you keep your primary job, find a way to make some new money with a side business, assuming your employer allows it. You could do something as simple as making bird houses in the garage and sell them online. There are all kinds of work from home small business opportunities that require little to no startup money or inventory.

  1. Refinance your home.

There are more and more new finance companies finding new and creative ways to refinance your mortgage and save some money. When it comes to refinancing, we often assume the answer will be negative or it will take too much time and hassle. It is a good idea to ask your friends on social media for referrals to financial professionals who can help you work on refinancing.

  1. Do a credit cleanup.

There are credit repair companies, not to be confused with debt consolidation companies, who use sophisticated methods to dispute zombie debt and incorrect negative information on your credit reports. For less than the cost of a vacation, you can pay a professional to help boost your credit score so you can save money and have the credit available when you need it.

  1. Renegotiate your utilities.

You never know when your electric companies, cell phone and Internet providers have special deals. All you must do is call and ask a customer service person if there is any way you could save money on your bill. Sometimes people end up paying late and end up with increased rates and never realize it. The more you talk to the people at the utilities, the better you can learn how they charge and how you can save money.

When we focus on thinking positively and taking small steps towards financial success, we can start achieving our goals. Sometimes it is slow making progress, but when you set reasonable goals and start seeing results, it reinforces your willingness to keep at it, until you have whatever you want in life.

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue 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.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

Taking the sting out of bankruptcy: You may be surprised how liberating it can be

There are many people who consider filing for bankruptcy for a while before they finally decide it is time to go ahead. Some of the common fears people have is that everyone will find out about the bankruptcy and shun them or talk behind their back. In all likelihood, the people you think may be doing so well may also be considering a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. It is important to remember that a bankruptcy does not mean failure – a bankruptcy means you are smart enough to take advantage of the law to protect you and give you a fresh start. People may be hesitant to file for bankruptcy because a friend told them incorrect information about the trustee coming to take and sell everything they own; this is a false myth. Credit scores are another concern many have, and they fear they will never get credit again, when in reality many lenders may look more favorably on you after you no longer are buried under a mountain of debt. While it is not the most common topic of conversation, many will tell you the relief they experienced after they filed for bankruptcy and got the mountain of debt and creditors off their back.

People are not likely to find out about your bankruptcy unless you tell them.

In years past, there may have been a more negative stigma to bankruptcy and small town newspapers published names and cases, possibly for the benefit of any creditors and providing them notice. In reality today, there are so many bankruptcy filings, especially in major cities like Chicago, that the newspaper would be massive if bankruptcy filings were posted. Unless you decide to tell people, your friends and neighbors will never know you filed for bankruptcy protection. There is a federal bankruptcy website where you can look up your own bankruptcy information and it will appear on your credit report and on background checks. Do now worry however, as more people have bankruptcies than you may realize and they still find new jobs, buy homes and cars.

It is not an immoral or unethical decision to take advantage of financial laws like bankruptcy.

Say you are sued by a creditor and they obtain a court judgement against you for $50,000. Yes, you can list that money judgment in your bankruptcy and wave goodbye to paying that off. For many people, the threat of a judgment being collected by wage garnishments and asset seizures is enough for people to decide to file for bankruptcy. Some people worry that the judge or court may be mad at you, but that is of no concern. A money judgment is just a court order to pay someone. The obligation to pay a debt can be discharged in bankruptcy – the whole point is to eliminate debts you cannot afford to pay so you can have a fresh financial start.

You can keep your car, house and belongings despite filing for bankruptcy.

There is a qualifying financial test called the Means Test and a bankruptcy lawyer can review your financials and advise you whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 discharge, the traditional bankruptcy most of us think about, or a Chapter 13 reorganization, in which you can make payments to catch up on your debts over a three to five-year period. If your vehicle is financed, you can sign a reaffirmation agreement and keep making payments despite the bankruptcy. You are allowed to keep a certain amount of equity in your home and personal belongings and assets up to a certain exemption value, despite filing for bankruptcy.

One of the best things about a bankruptcy filing is that by law, the automatic stay provision of the bankruptcy laws kicks in when you file your petition for bankruptcy – creditors and collectors must stop all collection activity and they can no longer call you while you are in bankruptcy. The stress relief of the automatic stay provision alone may bring you to a major sigh of relief.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with best credit repair 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.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

 

 

Gas tank getaways and overnights from Chicago: Get out and enjoy yourself!

The 4th of July weekend is here! Are you bummed because you don’t have a fancy lake house to go and spend the long weekend on your boat, grilling steaks and lobster? Do not worry, you too, can and should get out of the house and do something fun this weekend, and this summer generally. Life is short and we never know when some turn of events makes it more difficult to take weekend trips and gas tank getaways. The average price of gas in Illinois is $2.40 which is lower than recent weekends, and pretty good for the summertime generally. Here are some tips on fun weekend destinations and activities that will not break the bank. Remember, it is not how much money you have that matters, it is how smart you are at getting more for your hard earned buck.

5 great gas tank getaways and weekend trips from Chicago – click on the titles to visit the links:

  1. Starved Rock State Park

100 miles west on I 80 just before I 39 you will find one of Illinois’ best state parks, full of hiking, fishing and boating with canyons, trails and log cabins. Someone who visited last week and must have camped, had this to say in a Google review, “Awesome. Trials are outstanding, delivering the most beautiful views, and being very well maintained ! Campground was good as well. Hot and reasonably clean showers, very nice sites.”

Travel tip: bring good hiking shoes, the trails are fun, but not in flip flops.

  1. Chicago Museums and Navy Pier in Chicago

Don’t want to drive or don’t have a car? Hop on the Metra or a CTA train to the Loop and museum campus just to the south of Grant Park. You can visit museums that are “donation only” or have affordable deals on tickets, especially during the summertime and holiday weekends when tourists are in town. The Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry should be on the top of your list. Maybe do one per adventure because there is so much to see. When you’re done at the museum, walk or take a cab to nearby Navy Pier to grab something to eat and enjoy all the entertainment and people watching you desire. If you’re daring, look for one of those Jet Ski rentals at Navy Pier or ask someone there where you can get your hands on one.

Travel tip: bring a backpack with essentials, maybe snacks and waters.

  1. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

75 miles north off I 94 you will be able to Escape to Wisconsin without driving all the way up to Door County and worry about all those fine members of Wisconsin law enforcement. If you want to go camping or stay at a nice bed and breakfast, you can find just about whatever you are looking for in the Lake Geneva area. Many people recommend the Lake Geneva Canopy Tours – zip lining, starting at $30 for an unbelievable ride and views. After you recover from thrill-seeking, fishing, boating or simply laying around, there are great places to eat. From Annie’s Burgertown ($) to BJ Wentkers ($$$) Triangle Bar & Grill, Lake Geneva has options for every taste and budget.

Travel tip: clean off your camera lens and start snapping for Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

  1. Six Flags Great America in Waukegan

You are never too old to go to Six Flags! It shouldn’t take more than an hour to get there from just about anywhere in Chicagoland. Take your kids or take yourself and spend a day getting back to your childhood and take in the Americana that is a big roller coaster theme park. Of course there are all sorts of things to do there if the big coasters are not your thing. You certainly won’t have a hard time finding treats to eat and souvenirs to bring home. If you are sticking to a budget, but still want to go on the best rides and get your money worth, get the FLASH Pass and walk right up to your short VIP line instead of waiting in the sometimes very long lines for the popular and newer rides.

Travel tip: sunscreen will be your best friend because you can get burned easily when having fun.

  1. Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

If you really need to take a break from work, daily life and chores, consider indulging in one of the concert events of the season – Summerfest, in Milwaukee. Also 100 miles and just short of two hours depending on traffic, Milwaukee is much closer than most of us realize. And if there was ever a place to walk around listening to great music and enjoying a few beers, Milwaukee should be at the top of the list. Some people take the Amtrak train from Union Station and save money on gas, parking and worry about driving after drinking those beers. The music lineup at Summerfest is always impressive and you can catch major acts as well as some more local bands.

Travel tip: study the map of the grounds before you go and use the buddy system; it’s easy to get lost or mixed up with a crowd of fun people.

We hope everyone has a fun and safe 4th of July weekend. If any of these day or weekend trips are fun, let us know. And even if you stay home, you can close your eyes and go on imaginary trips wherever you want!

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with best credit repair 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.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

7 tips for saving money during the holidays

Who has not gone overboard with spending during the holiday season? Buying lavish gifts and throwing huge parties is fun and many of us enjoy the things money can buy. In January, when the bills come due, some of us have just a little guilty shopper’s remorse. Instead of putting yourself in debt and burden to provide what we have been told is a good holiday season, why not make the effort to have more meaningful holidays and celebrations without burdening ourselves with debt and financial struggle?

Regardless of your financial position, consider these 7 tips on being thrifty while still enjoying friends, families and the holidays:

  1. Decide how much you can spend with a holiday budget and pay cash for purchases. We may all enjoy giving our friends, family and neighbors the moon and the stars, the thought of giving and receiving can be done without spending a fortune. Make a list of all the people you want to give gifts and apportion a fixed amount of money you can afford. When you stick within a budget, the price tags might decrease and finding a thoughtful gift on a budget can be enjoyable and less stressful.
  1. Do things together with others and meet up at a local restaurant for a holiday party instead of hosting your own. When celebrating the holidays with the people you love is your focus and priority during the holidays, find a place you all can meet up and share stories and exchange gifts and conversation. As most people bring a small gift to the host of a party, they could spend that money on buying their own holiday food and drink at a local spot everyone loves.

 

  1. Make gifts for friends and family that will mean more and be appreciated. Do you ask yourself what to get for the person who already has everything? Would they be insulted if you made them a holiday dessert or some candies? Do you know how to paint or make candles? There are so many ways we can use our talents and make our own gifts for others. The time and effort put into homemade gifts can make them more meaningful than anything you could buy at a store.

 

  1. Take a drive, go look at holiday lights and decorations, and create traditions. When we look back at the holidays and see pictures of loved ones together, the times enjoying the holidays may be what re remember, not the gifts we gave or receive. Most of us cannot exactly recall what gifts were given or received, but we can probably remember who was there. Whether it be taking a drive to look at holiday lights or going bowling with friends and family, the traditions we enjoy make the holidays special, and those traditions do not have to cost a lot of money.

 

  1. Send holiday gifts just before New Years and take advantage of the sales. Instead of losing sleep over the time it takes the mail to bring presents to our loved ones out of town, send a gift closer to New Years and take advantage of the sales and the extra time for shipping. Waiting until New Years can also make your good holiday wishes stand out more instead of being in the shuffle during the busiest times.

 

  1. Make phone calls, reach out and touch someone, and save the postage and the cards. When working with a holiday budget, consider trimming the cost of holiday cards and postage and pick up the phone. You can communicate so much more by talking to someone to love and wish good tidings. Alternatively, some people like to send emails, and when you take the time to send individual emails, you still have the opportunity to connect and receive a quicker response than the delayed card from the person who was not necessarily anticipating yours.

 

  1. Take a vacation during the holidays and create memories instead of buying gifts. If you have younger children, it might be fun to tell them that there may be fewer gifts coming this year because the family is going on a fun vacation together. Family vacations destinations over the holidays could be anything from a resort to the home of friends or relatives who live in a neat place you otherwise do not have the chance to enjoy.

We do not have to break the bank or go into debt to take advantage of these cost saving ideas that can allow us to enjoy the holidays and our loved ones on a reasonable budget.

The attorneys and staff at Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., wish everyone a happy holidays and best fortune in the New Year. In the event your New Year resolutions include stopping bill collectors and payments that prevent you from living a good life, we can 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.

 

Breaking the habit of fearing financial success

Why do the rich stay rich and the poor stay, well…poor? Is there something about how we feel about money that influences how we treat it? There are books published about the secrets wealthy parents pass on to their children. Consider that the chance of success might be a function of wise parents with financial advice, but as well, success could also be a function of feeling you are comfortable and deserve to have money or struggle for it.

When many people live on a fixed budget it can become a habit to spend down every paycheck before something “happens” to the money. Instead of fearing the money going away, try learning to fear not having it to do something great. Regardless of what the great opportunity may be, having some money means having some power. The more we feel comfortable having money, the better we may be able to save money to spend, as we want. When we use money how we want, we feel we are in control and have power.

Stop fearing money and getting rid of it all the day you get paid.

Are you one of those people who come home with your paycheck and spend it down to zero within a few hours? Many people on fixed incomes worry about something coming up that might get in the way of paying bills and affording gas and food until the next paycheck. When we do this over and over, we reinforce the notion that we are not supposed to have any extra money. Try setting your same budget but keep the money in your account until the bills are actually due and the car needs that last tank of gas before payday. Make sure you safeguard your account like Fort Knox and stick to your budget. That way you get to sit on your money and feel a sense of ownership and control of it while you responsibly spend it according to your fixed budget.

Love what money can do and start using it to make even more.

When you get over your fear of having money and learn to sit on it for a while, you find ways to use it better because you do not like having less to sit on. Start with spending some time renegotiating your cable or mobile phone bill. Move on to mortgages, car notes and credit ratings. Imagine you save some money with all these activities, building a savings account and slowly increasing your cash assets. When you have money, you can use it to generate more! Imagine you invest in something small like an acre of land in an up and coming area. Maybe you buy stocks or start a side business. What might start very small can start to grow to something bigger than you thought you could build.

Decide how much money you want and get in control of your future.

Many professors of financial success tell you that millionaires are people who know how to grow money. Some very wealthy people lose it all and are in horrible debt at some point in their career. People who know how to make money and grow wealth once, are able to do it all over again when they embrace the love of what money can do. Moneymakers understand the importance of a plan and its execution. If you decide you want a certain amount of monthly income, make a plan and keep working to hit your goal. One option might be an additional income source such as a second job. The time spent working a second job might encourage you to take another stab at a side business. Set goals you can meet and after a while, raise the bar and keep seeing if you can reach higher results.

Taking control of your finances is important. Too many people who end up in bad financial circumstances think they are destined to fail. Changing your attitude towards money is the first step in loving what it can do for you after you take control.

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.