Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Just got a letter stating that my APR on the Chase account was finally raised to 29.99%

At first... GULP... then I realized that it's not a big deal. They can raise it to 153% and it won't matter because I'm filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

I can breathe deeply.

Getting things in order

Things are starting to fall into place. I still haven't heard from the paralegal about what else she might need (hopefully nothing). Aside from not knowing when my next lawyer meeting will be, and thus being able to go ahead and officially file for Chapter 7, things are going well.

I've made excellent progress at the chiropractor and am in much less pain. I've caught up with most of my healthcare visits (dentist, well-woman, etc.) and am collecting my bloodwork results as they come in. We've reorganized parts of the house and it's much cleaner, calmer, and more open.

All in all the stress is reducing every day a little bit more.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I sent my attorney-assigned paralegal a "helpful" email asking if there is anything she needs or if I can help in any way. I was advised to "nudge" her this way, to be polite and helpful, and to do so about once a week.

Hopefully I'll be able to officially file within the next few weeks!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Paperwork Submitted

On Sunday I did the "collect all the misc. paperwork the forms ask for" dance and the "double check to make sure I didn't miss anything" boogie.

Today I brought a huge stack of papers to the lawyer.

He said he was impressed that I had done all that in a week and that it was so organized and thorough.

Unfortunately the paralegal appears to be a little busier now and it will take 2-3 weeks just to get everything entered into the computer. Then I have to do the final review and sign the forms, which requires an appointment with the other lawyer who's only in town one day a week, sometimes two.


I had really hoped to hit the end of April. Now it looks like we'll file just before the first paycheck of May, probably around the 14th. (Hubby gets paid last day of the month and the 15th; disability hits on the first.)  I'm not happy that I'll be 60 days late with my accounts. I had really hoped to be 30 days late and file just prior to the 60 day mark.

He suggested that I sent a "helpful" email to the paralegal in about a week. Does she have everything she needs? Is there anything else she's found that I can send to her? He said to do that once in a week and again in another. "Squeaky wheel gets all the attention, but you'll be a nice squeaky wheel," he said. Hopefully I gave everything they need and we can get this done more quickly.

I found out that if my husband opens a savings account in his name only he can save part of his paycheck by having it direct deposited into that account. Since it's his money and he's not filing, there's no reason why he can't save some. Yay! Of course, I'm going to the dentist in May, so chances are there won't be much to save, but still... it's a start.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

How could I have missed this?

I got a letter from the IRS today.

I know, right? My heart started pounded, just as you'd imagine.

All kinds of things floated through my mind. Were we being audited?

The letter said they noticed a mistake on our taxes that changed our refund amount. It offered a toll-free number and asked that I call them.

So I did. And they were very polite.

Turns out my husband got part of a credit through the VA and had claimed it again (our accountant is awesome, but not infallible) when we filed. The result was that our refund was $250 less.

I panicked. We already received our tax refund. Did I have to send a check?

Turns out they adjusted it prior to sending the refund and all is well.

Truth is I had simply noted the amount in our account had gone up about what I had expected it to. I was rushed that day. I didn't analyze it. Ugh! How could I miss that? $250!

It's happening again

Every once in awhile I come across a life obstacle that makes me behave differently. There is a holding pattern that happens. I realize it, curse at it a bit, forget about it for a few days, and then face it again, kicking and screaming.

The most notable time that this happened was when we were trying, and failing, to get pregnant. I didn't want to do certain things because I was going to get pregnant soon. Months later I'd be mad at myself for not being in better shape or not having flattering clothes, but surely I'd be pregnant next month, right? I'd hate to cause myself to miscarry (a very uninformed fear I had at the time) or spend money on nice clothes that wouldn't fit.

Now the bankruptcy is causing this holding pattern. Nothing feels "real" to me right now. Although nothing will change. On paper I'll be debt-free (except for student loans) and have a credit score few would envy. In my day-to-day life, however, very little is going to be different.

I'm going to make a concerted effort to use this as an opportunity to start fresh rather than be on hold.

One more thing to go

I simply need to finalize my list of possessions (including coming up with prices and making sure that I properly labeled them joint, mine, hubby's, or mom's) and my paperwork is done done done. I'm this close to being set for Monday. Honestly, I could have been done by now, but I wanted some separation so that I didn't miss anything.

Monday, April 5, 2010

And the calls began again...

I left the lawyer's office with advice on how to handle future collection calls:

Tell them you're going to give them my name and phone number, and that you've been advised not to talk further with them.

As soon as I got to my car I put a slip of paper with the correct spelling of the lawyer's name and phone number and slipped it into the slide-out keyboard. Then I went to Controls - Contacts - Reject List - Delete All. The block list that I had so carefully added to after each new phone number called was wiped out.

(Sidenote: All the calls have been polite even up until now, which surprised me. I had expected more aggressive techniques, but I guess since I'm still under 30 days late they'd have reason to keep my business if they can.)

Within the hour I got my first call.

Capital One

I spoke with the lady from Capital One first. She gave her schpiel. I confirmed her name and told her exactly what the lawyer told me to say. She said, "Oh, I'd be happy to take that information from you. Would you give me just a minute to pull the right screen up?" All she asked after that was whether it was a debt relief lawyer or if it was a bankruptcy lawyer, in which case my number would be pulled from the call list in her system. I told her it was bankruptcy. She said, "I've got it. Thank you so much, and good luck."


Chase called next. This time I modified my schpiel to specifically say "bankruptcy attorney". The gentleman was also very polite and happy to take my lawyer's info.

He then asked for the address. I didn't have it as I was in the car. Then he asked what chapter I was filing, which I answered. Then he asked if I had a case number yet, which I don't. Then he asked if he could know why I chose to file bankruptcy at which point I said, "I'm sorry, but my lawyer said not to get into a conversation with you." He confirmed he had the number and to have a good day.

Bank of America

Wouldn't you know, within another hour BOA called. It was another woman. She was just as friendly as the other two and confirmed they'd stop calling me and get further information from the lawyer. She asked a few of the same questions Chase did, but only what chapter and whether I had a case number yet.

It's over

And just like that all three creditors were informed that I'm filing bankruptcy. I thought this step would be hard, but honestly it was a huge weight off my shoulders.

The first big step was to stop paying my bills. The next was the time I spent dreading getting the collection calls and letters. Then admitting I was filing.

I'm still here. The earth didn't swallow me, nobody laughed or teased, and my heart didn't stop.


Official Retainer

Today I met with my lawyer again and officially retained him.

Lawyer Paperwork:

I signed a two-page document that clearly outlined what my lawyer was offering and at what price, what my responsibilities are, what extra work costs if above and beyond the normal bankruptcy proceeding, that all must be paid before filing, and so forth. I saw nothing disagreeable. I paid $200 out of the $1500 fee with the remainder to be paid when I turn in the packet of Chapter 7 paperwork.

Mom Advice:

The lawyer was concerned that she still has funds in her account. Becuase I could have gone in and taken money out (not that I would, but I could have), the trustee is going to think s/he can do so as well. However, since her income is solely from Social Security, which is exempt, there shouldn't be an issue. The money she received from her mother has been spent, as has her onetime tax stimulus credit that she got a few years ago.

The Process Now:

This is how the process is going to work from this point to filing:
  • I have to fill out the worksheet and make an appointment to go back to the office.
  • I have to gather a bunch of forms including any correspondance from creditors within the last 60 days, 6 months of bank statements, and so forth.
  • The lawyer and I will spend approximately an hour going through the worksheet line-by-line.
  • The paralegal will take the worksheet and put it into their computer system.
  • I meet with the other lawyer (the one who will be at my 341 meeting and who is also a trustee) to go over what's been put in.
  • Revisions are made if necessary.
  • The lawyer presses "send" and my Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition is officially filed.
Chapter 7 Paperwork:

I was given a very large worksheet of almost 40 pages to take home. This broke down the forms that the government uses into questions that make a lot more sense are are more user friendly. A few sections were confusing. Once I got the idea of how it was laid out it was much easier.

The paperwork also gave a "double-check" list to see if the filer may have missed any accounts. This was a long list of reminder is the form of "Do you have..." questions.

One thing that I did not like about the paperwork is that the order of "Yes" and "No" check areas were reversed frequently. Sometimes the first blank was for a yes check and othertimes it was for a no check.

I filled out the worksheet based on what forms I had previously filled out and it was very fast. I'm going to go back through and complete the few missing items now. That leaves the posession list. I think I can get that done today, revise it tonight with hubby's help, and check it tomorrow.

Reviewing Paperwork

My lawyer meeting to "officially" retain his services and get all my paperwork is at 11:15.

Little does he know I'm coming armed with a ton of paperwork already started. I hope my appointment allotment allows us to start going over it and answer questions.

I have my list of things we need to discuss, a blank check to write a retainer fee, and an attitude of patience. Hopefully I also have a babysitter!

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Happy Easter (or whatever version of Spring celebration you participate in).

This weekend has been full of family and friends and it's gone by way too fast!