[COLUMN] Client seeks Chapter 7 relief for $100K credit card debt 

THE client is 45, married with two sons, 16 and 12. He used to own and operate, together with his wife, a small business, which started in 2014.

They sold the business for $40,000 in 2019 just before the pandemic started. He says the business was barely breaking even so they decided to just sell it. They were lucky to have sold it a couple of months before the pandemic started in 2020 because the business would have been rendered totally worthless in 2020. I guess the buyer of the business thought he was getting it for a bargain at $40,000 but really regretted buying it when the pandemic hit as I am sure gross receipts went from $30,000 a month to zero.

Credit cards used to finance business

The client used credit cards to finance the operations of the business for five years. It’s easy to rack up $100,000 of credit card debt when you’re running a business, $20,000 this year, $30,000 next year. That’s already $50,000 in two years of new credit card debt. It’s easy to use them, but it’s quite difficult to pay them back so most people take the easy way out. They just pay the minimum monthly payment every month and think they have no credit card debt at all.

For $100,000 of credit cards, you need at least $3,000 to make minimum monthly payments. After paying $108,000 in just three years of minimum payments, guess how much you still owe? After paying your credit card masters $108,000 in three years, you still owe them the very same $100,000! It’s the best deal in town for your credit card masters.

If you feel like they own you; that you are a modern-day debt slave, you are exactly right because a slave is what you are. You must give your masters, their minimum monthly tribute, or else you will suffer the consequences. They will sue you, levy your bank accounts and cars, put judgment liens on your house and eventually sell your house to satisfy the judgment liens if you don’t protect yourself.

Pandemic but rent-free

After they sold their business, the clients had to look for alternate sources of income to support themselves. Fortunately, the wife was able to get a job but only at minimum wage. It’s not even enough to pay their rent. But lo and behold, here’s Uncle Sam to the rescue. Residential rent payments were suspended right after the lockdown and continue up to the end of this year, unless further extended. They get to live in their residence, rent-free for more than 18 months now. They were also able to get pandemic EDD of a combined $3,000 a month, which has just ended on September 4. I think that’s the final end of the pandemic EDD for the self-employed.

There’s money in driving

But the client is enterprising enough as he needs to take care of his family. He starts driving for Uber and Lyft and has gross receipts of $8,000 a month! But wait, you still have to deduct expenses from that. Uber and Lyft get a commission, gas, etc. The client ends up with a net of about 40% of gross receipts, or a net of $4,000 a month. That’s not bad at all. You’re still your own boss and you’re still working for yourself. I think if you drive a Prius, you might save a lot of gas expense since that’s a hybrid. So there you go, if you next money and have a car, go drive Uber and Lyft, there’s more than enough business to go around it appears.

No, I’m not an influencer for Uber or Lyft. But they do provide sufficient extra income for those who are willing to spend their days and nights driving people around town. Make your car work for you during these uncertain times, but do get rid of all your debt so you can save the money you make. Save money so you can invest for your retirement. The difference between 40 and 60 years old is only 20 years. As you well know, the weeks go by so fast; in the blink of an eye for 20 years is not an exaggeration. You remember when you just turned 20, or before that, when you were just a teenager. Doesn’t that feel like that was only yesterday? So, if you owe $30,000 of credit cards at the age of 40, that’s $1,000 of minimum credit card payments monthly. In 20 years, you would have paid $240,000 in minimum payments. And how much do you still owe at age 60?

You still owe $30,000!

Getting rid of debt makes sense especially to billionaires who filed for Chapter 7 before

If you had discharged the $30,000 with a Chapter 7 petition at the age of 40, then the $240,000 would be in your retirement account at the age of 60. And this year if you had invested that on S&P index funds that would have appreciated by 20% as of today, or almost $50,000. You would have $290,000 in your retirement account even if you just invested starting January 1, 2021. If you had started investing 20 years ago at the rate of $12,000 a year, you’d probably have $1 million at age 60. That’s how many pportunities for yourself and your family, you are missing out on by keeping your $30,000 of credit cards by just making minimum payments on them monthly. They’re like leeches. They get their teeth on you and just suck your blood until you are totally drained of your life force.

Believe it or not, Walt Disney, filed for Chapter 7 not once, but twice before his Disney global empire became successful. He went on to become a billionaire after getting rid of all his debt twice. Milton Hershey, of Hershey chocolates, the biggest chocolate business in the world, also filed for Chapter 7 once before he became successful and a billionaire.

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Disclaimer: None of the foregoing is considered legal advice for anyone. There is absolutely no attorney-client relationship established by reading this article.

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Lawrence Bautista Yang specializes in Bankruptcy, Business, Real Estate and Civil Litigation and has successfully represented more than five thousand clients in California. Please call Angie, Barbara or Jess at (626) 284-1142 for an appointment at 20274 Carrey Road, Walnut, CA 91789 or 1000 S. Fremont Ave., Mailstop 58, Building A-10 South Suite 10042, Alhambra, CA 91803.

                (Advertising Supplement)

 

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