Joe: Big guest tonight, J Doc, Glad to hear, glad to hear. I’m going to sit back and learn a little bit about our debt relief program – Philly labor Debt Relief Program. I’ll let you take it (from here).
J Doc: Yeah, absolutely. So we’re happy to introduce the Philly Labor Debt Relief Program for Union families who are in financial distress due to COVID-19. And I’m ecstatic to bring Brad Sadek into the program, of Sadek and Cooper. Brad, how are you, sir?
Brad: I’m very good J Doc, Joe Kraus. Thank you guys very much for having me back. It’s actually been two months. Hopefully, that makes us two months closer to being out of this pandemic. Hope you guys are well this Saturday night. I’m ready to get into it.
J Doc: Yeah, so you’ve been no stranger to the Union community. You’ve worked with the Teamsters Local and the Firefighters Local 22 on a lot of their debt relief programs, and we know Sadek and Cooper, of which you’re the founding partner, is spearheading this. Tell us a little bit about it.
Brad: Well, what we’re doing is, you know, we have been working with unions for a while and we’re in conversations with new unions. And what we’re finding is, yes, there are some people out there on the front lines and they’re working more than ever – which gives them greater economic flexibility.
However, most people, unfortunately, have been left behind. I mean, we’re talking union workers who may be working in colleges, cafeterias, and airports. Those workers are not as busy and the problem is that they are used to getting overtime and maybe they’re even used to having two incomes.
So like most of America, they have actually seen a fall and they have been financially impacted. So what ends up happening is they are contacting us (for help).
And what I like to do is take at least a half an hour to hear about everybody’s individual situation, because they’re all different. And I want to learn about what is giving them an issue first and foremost. Then we have to discuss a few legal strategies – whether that be bankruptcy, a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, debt consolidation, (or) maybe it’s a mortgage giving them an issue.
So we are contacting mortgage companies trying to get either a modification – which is a longer-term change in finance terms – or maybe a forbearance for six months on a loan or three months just so they can get that economic recovery that they need. Right now there’s a lot of tools available.
There’s a lot of tools that people don’t know about and what I try to do is assess the priority. Of course, the mortgage is a priority, the car is a priority, food and gas and clothing (are too). What’s not really a priority, which drags a lot of people down and I’m seeing this now more than ever, is credit card debt. It’s a huge problem, it’s the least priority, and it’s taking up way too much income. Especially when there’s not as much discretionary income (available) as we go further into this pandemic.
So each and every situation is different but the priorities are usually the same.
J Doc: Brad, let me ask you if you’ll spend a minute or two just talking to the audience of who you are?
I think sometimes people are reluctant to reach out for help because they’re embarrassed.
Really nervous, or they categorize these 800 numbers to be all the same. You’re none of that. You’re real, sir. You’re a real individual. Like that is so important.
Brad: Yeah, we have a 215 number in Pennsylvania and we have an 856 number in New Jersey. Calling a lawyer – and I am a lawyer first and foremost – calling lawyers is never an easy thing to do.
But let’s say that my hip hurt. I would probably deal with it. Maybe take some Advil. I probably wouldn’t go to the doctor until I was dragging my leg. And most people are like that, and I get it. They wait and wait and wait until the problem just gets worse and worse and they can’t deal with it anymore. And it’s not right and the thing is the problem always gets worse.
It doesn’t get better – especially financial issues. They grow exponentially and exponentially not in the financial favor. The most common thing that I hear when I talk to people is “Well, I feel better.”
So that’s the first step. When we get off the phone or somebody, in the more traditional sense, when they come into one of our offices. All of our appointments right now are over the phone and that’s even more welcoming. People don’t have to take time out of their day to come into one of our offices. They don’t need to take time off work or time away from your families. We are only a phone call away.
What we do is we reserve at least half an hour per person and we go through their personal financial situation. I have some people that call and they say well, “I don’t want to talk about that yet” and I say “no problem.” I completely understand – I could talk about the Eagles all day to someone but that is not a good use of their time or mine. A lot of times, people feel as though “Well, I’m failing,” if they call us.
Well, they’re probably failing if they don’t call us, right? Because they know they need to make a change and they just don’t know how to do it.
J Doc: Having said that, one of the things that you and I know, I’ve talked to individuals that you represent and stopping the bleeding is such a big deal.
There are so many people right now that are in financial distress because of the COVID-19 and, like you said, pride will get in the way. But they’re bleeding and they don’t know how to get out of it. One thing people don’t realize is what a benefit it is. And what a relief that it is when somebody learns about the debt relief program, learns how to stop the bleeding and, you know, stop the creditors from calling. You can stop somebody from losing their house, losing their automobile, and getting back on solid ground. Putting them in a place where they can put together a plan. Where not only can they stop the bleeding, but they can get back on track.
Brad: And a lot of times lower expenses too. I mean, that is absolutely huge because if we’re lowering expenses, that’s less money coming out of pocket on a monthly basis and that is also a greater opportunity to save money. And it doesn’t take a lot of money in savings to stay out of debt. Most people that I see, they turn to debt in a time where there was an emergency and they did not have savings. Most people that have debt, probably 90% or more, do not have savings.
That is the ultimate goal because at the end of the day those savings are going to keep people out of debt. So if they need new tires, the roof is leaking, they need a hot water heater… the people that I see do not incur debt to go to Hawaii for two months. The people that I see incurred debt for an expense that comes up that they’re just not able to handle. These are good people. These are very, very hard-working people that I respect 100% and they were just not ready to absorb a financial emergency.
I think that’s where we have to get people back to, you know, get away from paying $1,000 or $1,500 dollars a month to credit cards – where that $1,000 $1,500 a month equates to 12 to 18 thousand dollars a year. That’s a lot of money and especially right now when people are making less than ever.
J Doc: Brad Sadek is joining us from the law offices of Sadek and Cooper. Really, really good stuff. Stay with us as we’ll get to a quick commercial break and then come back on the other side.