What’s your picture of what life looks like when you’re in the middle of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
If you know a little bit about the Chapter 13 process then you already know you’ll have to live with a trustee-approved budget, and your disposable income will go to paying off your debts for 3 to 5 years. This can give some people pause, as they feel like they’ll be putting someone else in control of their life and finances…especially if they are concerned about whether they’ll be allowed to indulge in any kind of entertainment options.
But the picture isn’t as grim as most people fear.
Most people get an entertainment budget.
It may be quite a bit lower than the $200 a month most Americans spend on entertainment, but nobody expects you to spend several years living a dreary, fun-free lifestyle. While there are exceptions to this rule, they’re rare.
You can use the budget on anything you want. You can go to the movies. You can tuck that money away for bigger expenditures later. You can also move money around in your budget. If you end up spending less on groceries, for example, then you can do whatever you want with the remainder.
As long as you’re making your Chapter 13 payments, nobody’s going to question what you do in your free time.
See also: Holiday Gift Giving and Bankruptcy.
You can do more than you think you can.
While you may have to think outside the box a little bit, you may be able to do many of your favorite activities for a lot less money.
Here are a few examples:
- Love the big screen? Your local library may host free movie nights.
- Willing to wait a little longer? Netflix is still cheap! You can also go to the library to check out DVDs for free.
- Live music? Look for local “concerts on the lawn” and similar events.
- Save on destination travel by learning to love local. Philadelphia is a tourist destination for some people. Have you seen everything our town has to offer? Probably not.
- Check the paper for free or cheap classes, events, and festivals.
- Is gourmet food your jam? Check for specials, or commit to upping your own cooking game.
- Check out books from the library instead of buying them. Most libraries will even let you check out books on your electronic devices.
- Find local Meetups full of people who enjoy the same things you do. Many of these are free, and you may meet someone new.
- Get to know the great outdoors. Hiking is free. So is sledding. In some places, swimming is, too.
- Buy used video games, or look for Humble Bundles, which will give you a whole host of video games for one very low price while helping you support charity causes. Some are even “pay what you want” deals. There are Humble Bundles for books and comics, too.
For more ideas, visit this article from USA Today.
It’s normal to feel a little resistance when looking over this list. Understand these feelings are likely to be a psychological resistance to change, rather than a reflection of whether or not you can have the same amount of fun.
Your attorney can help you negotiate.
Negotiating a Chapter 13 payment you can live with is one of the very important roles a bankruptcy attorney plays for you as you navigate the process. While we can’t promise you’ll walk away with a big budget for things like entertainment, we can say your chances of receiving a fair payment and a livable budget are far higher.
Remember, the vast majority of pro se Chapter 13 bankruptcies fail. Representing yourself is never a good idea, and it’s an even worse idea when you’re navigating the complexities of a three-to-five year case.
Life after bankruptcy will be better than ever.
If you find tightening your purse strings unpalatable just think about what your life looks like now.
How good do you feel about indulging in entertainment spending when creditors are calling day and night? Are you really having much fun while you’re dodging the repo man or fighting to keep your house?
After your bankruptcy discharge you’ll be blessed with silent phones, a car and a home you get to keep, a better credit score, and a budget that’s free and clear of monthly payments. That Chapter 13 payment becomes disposable income once more. If it’s a large payment, you’ll get to spend all that on having any kind of fun you want later.
Ready to embrace your fresh start? Contact us for your free consultation today.