Many families in Texas struggle with credit card debt. Across the U.S., Americans owe about $905 billion in credit card debt. That works out to around $15,654 per household. While this seems like a lot, other debts are even worse. The total amounts owed on mortgages, car loans and student loans are in the trillions.
Many people living in Texas struggle to pay their bills. While some financial difficulties are temporary, other individuals and families find it impossible to catch up. In these cases, bankruptcy may be an appropriate option.
Texas residents and others who file for bankruptcy may believe that they have no chance of buying a home. However, this is not necessarily the case. For many, the biggest obstacle standing in their way of home ownership is time. In some cases, a person may need to wait four years after the date that their case is resolved before they can buy a home. A minimum two-year wait is imposed by Fannie Mae while a minimum one-year wait is imposed by the FHA.
Older Americans in Texas and throughout the country are filing for bankruptcy more often than they have in past years. Individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 comprise 8 percent of all bankruptcy filings. This is an increase of 1 percent since 2008, and many people in this age group are filing because of medical debt. In addition to higher health care costs, a lack of financial literacy may also play a role in whether an older person files for bankruptcy.
Texas residents who make contributions to a 401(k) plan can generally claim those deductions as expenses when filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A trustee in one case claimed that a debtor needs to make contributions in the six months proceeding bankruptcy for them to count as a valid expense when calculating disposable income. However, an Illinois bankruptcy judge disagreed saying that the debtors in question were not doing so as an act of bad faith.
Some consumers in Texas may be contacted by collectors of what is known as "phantom debt." This term is used to describe debt that is either already paid off or never belonged to the person. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in 2016, more than 40 percent of the complaints received about debt collection were about debt the consumer did not owe in the first place.
Bankruptcy filings fell 1.8 percent for the latest 12-month period ending on Sept. 30. This marks a 10-year low in filings. Overall, Texas residents and others across the U.S. filed for bankruptcy 790,830 times in September 2017 compared to 805,580 in September 2016. While the number of bankruptcy filings has dropped, those who study the issue say that many people are still in a precarious financial situation.
Consumer spending in Texas and around the country was subdued in August according to a report released recently by the U.S. Federal Reserve. Total consumer debt in the United States increased by $17.7 billion in July according to the central bank, but only $13.1 billion was added to the nation's debt total in August. However, a closer scrutiny of the figures reveals a potentially worrying increase in credit spending and a sharp decline in student and automobile loans.
Texas consumers who are struggling with debt may already be aware of the protections conveyed by bankruptcy. Those who are considering filing a bankruptcy petition should take into account at least three considerations as they make their decisions. First, it's important to be aware of the different types of bankruptcy available. Second, individuals should know about the cost of filing and other costs associated with the process. Finally, knowledge of the limitations of bankruptcy protection is important.
Texas residents may be interested in an important change Equifax made to its credit reporting policies. The change may impact thousands of customer's credit scores if they have filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.