How to live on a Chapter 13 Budget

A good attorney will present your case to the courts and get you a Chapter 13 budget that will be easy to follow and maintain.
couple planning their chapter 13 budget

With the pandemic still ongoing, families across the country are finding themselves going deeper and deeper into financial debt and economic ruin. While many millions of people are stressed about their financial state, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is providing many with the financial relief they desperately need. 

However, the idea of having to follow a Chapter 13 budget can seem scary. Thankfully, we are here to tell you all that you need to know about living on a Chapter 13 budget without destroying your entire lifestyle!

Obviously, there are plenty of ways that you can save money and stick to your bankruptcy budget. However, it’s important that your initial budget be something that you can actually follow! A good attorney will present your case to the courts and get you a Chapter 13 budget that will be easy to follow and maintain.  

The Budget Doesn’t Dictate Your Life

When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it can feel like you’re giving your freedom over to someone else since you’ll no longer be the only one setting your monthly budget. While a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will provide you with a budget, this budget will take into account all of your living expenses – so you will have plenty of wiggle room to create your own monthly spending plan.

After all, your Chapter 13 bankruptcy won’t work if you can’t make your plan payments. Your budget is based on a two-part calculation:

  • the amount of debt you must repay in the plan, and
  • your income, or, ability to pay your debt.

In Chapter 13, how much you’ll pay will depend on your disposable income. It’s calculated by deducting your monthly personal and household expenses (which includes expenses for entertainment and other  from your monthly take-home income.

Creating a budget and analyzing your plan payments also serves as an important reality check. It will help you adopt habits that will help you better manage your finances after the repayment phase is over. By living on your budget now, you will help set yourself up for better money habits and spending once your are done repaying. Stay committed to that budget for the next three to five years, and you should succeed in Chapter 13.

Chapter 13 Can Bring You Closer to Your Family

View a Chapter 13 budget as an opportunity to spend more quality time with your family and loved ones. Rather than sending kids off to camp for the summer, you’ll get the joy of introducing them to playing a board game you love, teach them new skills, and enjoy family movie night together with homemade pizza. Likewise, extravagant date night dinners can be reworked into true quality time with your partner through quality time having fun creating a candle-lit dinner at home. You don’t have to spend a fortune to savor your time with the ones you love most. You may find that your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy actually strengthens your family ties! 

When Plans Change

Things can happen that are beyond your control – such as a job loss, illness, income changes, or other budget changes – but you should continue to make payment.  You’ll want to resist the urge to attempt self-help such as taking out a loan on the side (which depending on your terms might not be allowed). Instead, your attorney can help ease you through the rough patch, through:

  • temporarily suspending or modifying your plan payments
  • extending the length of your plan 
  • granting you permission to incur new debt
  • allowing you to refinance an existing secured debt – like a mortgage.

Your attorney will let your trustee know of any changes or be able to file the appropriate motion. Additionally, sometimes changes in your situation make it so that Chapter 13 is no longer in your best interest. You then may need to dismiss your case or have your lawyer convert it to Chapter 7.

Contact us today to learn how a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can get you out of debt and into a better financial future! 

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