Frugal Fun Summer 101

As the temperature outside goes up, so does our electric bill. Most of us tend to crank up the air conditioning in an attempt to beat the Texas heat. This almost always leads to us paying steep bills as a consequence.

Some people swear by not using the A/C during the day while they’re at work. But, if you’re elderly or have certain health issues, this isn’t recommended. If you’re looking to save some extra money to account for the higher electric bill, check out these tips on staying frugal during the warm summer months:

  • Have a staycation.

The vacation’s more affordable cousin, having a staycation can help save money on travel costs, and can even help you learn more about your town! Check out local museums, many of them might have reduced prices over the summer.

  • Carpool to work.

If you’re driving to work every day, a gas bill can add up quickly. Riding with your coworkers can help shoulder some of the burdens. Chipping in a few bucks a week will save you money in the long run if you’re not using your car as often. Not only will you save on gas, but your car will also experience less wear-and-tear.

  • Eat at home.

This is a well-known tip for saving money year-round, but it becomes more fun over the summer. Invite your family and neighbors over for a cookout! The weather is perfect for cookouts this time of year. Everyone can bring their own dish and it’s still going to be cheaper than going out to dinner. A plus is that you’re creating valuable memories for years to come. It doesn’t get much better than hamburgers and potato salad on a nice summer evening.

  • Try walking more often.

This may not work for everyone, but some people can walk to and from work instead of driving. If you leave before it gets too hot and come home after the sun sets, you’ll be avoiding the majority of the heat. You’re also getting in some good exercise! One thing to be aware of is drivers.

Pedestrians are vulnerable to receiving serious injuries if hit by a car. Portner Bond, PLLC, has experience dealing with those types of situations. If you do end up getting hit while on a walk, contact a lawyer who can help you assess the damage. A negligent driver won’t receive nearly as severe injuries as the pedestrian that they hit, so why should they walk away scot-free? Make sure you have a lawyer on hand who can help you receive compensation for any medical bills or potentially lost wages.

  • Update your summer budget.

It’s a common kiss of death to forget to account for increasing air conditioning costs. Something as simple as budgeting for this change ahead of time can save you a lot of money in the long run. Give yourself a bit of a cushion at the start of the summer and you’ll find yourself less stressed when the bill comes in the mail.

Read More

An Overview of Special Needs Planning

An integral part of estate planning and administration is special needs planning. In most cases, this is to provide for the future special needs of an elderly relative, or it may be to address the present as well as future needs of a child with special needs. In either case, special needs planning has to be included in the mix in order to protect whatever private and public benefits that should accrue to the disabled family member.

One scenario is that of a disabled individual with limited means who qualifies or is receiving public benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may lose these benefits if that individual receives an inheritance that is not sufficient to replace these benefits but which can nevertheless disqualify him or her from receiving them. If the inheritance is placed in a special needs trust, for example, the disabled beneficiary can still maintain their public benefits which is then supplemented by funds held in trust designed to pay for other expenses to improve the beneficiary’s quality of life that is otherwise not covered by government benefits.

In a way, special-needs planning is a way to ensure that a disabled individual is able to sustain life even if their primary caregiver dies. As pointed out on the website of Peck Ritchey, it is designed to help families with special needs to maximize available resources and to enhance their loved ones’ quality of life.

However, special needs planning requires a certain level of specialized knowledge for it to be effective. A special needs trust, for example, has to meet certain criteria to avoid being disqualified as a supplement to public benefits. It is important to consult with a special needs planning lawyer in your state to make sure that the provisions you make for future and current needs of your disabled child or other family member meet legal requirements.

Read More

Bankruptcy and Unpaid Child Support

Financial issues are one of the leading causes for married couples to file for divorce. It may be from acquired debts, excessive spending, poor budgeting, economic struggles, or being jobless. Regardless of the reason, a lot of couples cite financial problems are their number one reason for family turmoil and arguments that lead to divorce and filing for bankruptcy. It may already be complicated to deal with divorce and bankruptcy, but things can be taken to a whole new level when there are children involved.

Child support can complicate an ongoing bankruptcy case simply because there are many factors to consider and that can affect child support payments. Generally, obligations for child support are not discharged in any type of bankruptcy, but there are types of bankruptcy that can help clear out some debts, making child support payments more possible.

One thing to consider when filing for bankruptcy is choosing which type of bankruptcy will work best in your situation. If you have filed for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your child support payments will not be discharged, but it can help in enabling you to catch up on your missed payments. Chapter 13 bankruptcy helps to reorganize your debts and provide you with an effective repayment plan. Child support payments are considered a priority debt, and it will therefore be paid off in full through Chapter 13.

Moreover, after filing for bankruptcy, the automatic stay (a court order where creditors are prohibited to collect payment from you) will provide you protection. Creditors are required to get a court permission to be able to collect and child support from your post-bankruptcy earning, although bankruptcy laws and family laws can be complicated and would require the help of a  child support lawyer who knows these types of cases.

Filing for bankruptcy needs a lot of consideration because unpaid child support can put you behind bars. Because child support payments are considered non-dischargeable, even after receiving your bankruptcy discharge from the court, you are still obligated to pay them. Another thing, the court will only grant you a discharge is you are current on your child support payments, therefore any missed payments must be settled before being free from your debts.

Read More