How to Put an End to Money Arguments – Relationships and Money – daveramsey.com

Dave Ramsey has another great post over at http://www.daveramsey.com about How to Put an End to Money Arguments.

As regular readers know, I am a HUGE fan of Ramsey and his approach — a position, by the way, that regularly earns me brickbats from my fellow bankruptcy attorneys.

Go check it out.

via How to Put an End to Money Arguments – Relationships and Money – daveramsey.com.

The Seven Habits of Highly Unsuccessful People* (a "How To" for Going Broke)

I’m old enough to remember Romper Room — a kids show on TV back in the dark (as in “black and white”) ages.  Romper Room had a regular segment called something like “Do Bee vs. Don’t Bee” — the idea being that you should be a “Do Bee” (generally exhibiting good character traits, and avoid being a “Don’t Bee”.


Well here’s a tribute to that Do Bee vs. Don’t Bee segment, except that these mostly “Don’t Bee” examples rolled off my laptop this morning as I was thinking about some bankruptcy clients.  If you want to go broke and end up in bankruptcy, here’s some helpful pointers based on my years of experience:

  1. DON’T bother opening your mail every day — especially not your bills or bank statements or anything from the IRS. If you don’t know about it, it can’t ruin your day, right?
  2. DON’T balance your checkbook — it’s just a bunch of depressing stuff anyway. Certainly don’t keep a running balance in there — what a buzz kill it would be to know that you’re about to incur a bunch of service charges!
  3. DON’T do a monthly budget — just send out the money as it comes in. Bills come in, money goes out. What’s the difference? They all gotta get paid anyway. Don’t worry about prioritizing with your food, shelter, transportation and clothing and savings first. If you take care of Master Card, they’ll take care of you!
  4. DON’T worry about saving any money. If you have an emergency, that’s what Visa and Master Card are for. Besides, there’s always tomorrow and you’ve got a good job, right? Trust me, it’ll work out.
  5. DON’T waste your money on health or disability insurance. After all, you’re healthy right? You don’t smoke or eat too much, and you exercise regularly. (Didn’t I see you at that 5k run last week?) It’s not like you’re ever going to end up with a serious illness or get in an accident or anything. That’ll never happen to YOU.
  6. DO get as much car as you they will let you finance. (Leasing’s a good way to do this. Why drive a beater when you can drive a “Beemer”?) You need something “reliable” — and that means “new”. Besides, your car is a reflection of you and your status in the world, and you deserve it.
  7. DON’T use cash — put it on plastic. After all, you can use Visa’s money for 30 days or so, preserve your own cash and pay it off in full at the end of the month. So what if they’re betting that you forget to pay it off — you’re WAY smarter than they are; they’re just a dumb ol’ Fortune 100 company.

If you’ve been a “Don’t Bee” for awhile now and want to turn it around, send me an email at tulsabankruptcylaw@gmail.com or call me toll free at 918 409-2462. I promise you that I can help with compassionate and sensible advice, that doesn’t talk down to you or make you feel like a child.


After all, this isn’t Romper Room anymore.


*With apologies to Stephen Covey.


Ben Callicoat
fbcallicoat@gmail.com
918 409-2462

Help! My Landlord told me to get out by tomorrow!

“Help! My landlord has given me 48 hours to leave my apartment and I have no place to go!”

Unfortunately, this was a real life plea I received just the other day.

The man on the phone told me that he’d had a dispute with his landlord (who occupied the bottom floor of a two-story dwelling) that the tenant and his pregnant wife and baby had rented the upper floor.

“Is that legal”, he wondered?

No, it is not legal. Not under Oklahoma law.

In order for a landlord to evict someone, they must file a Forcible Entry and Detainer action with the Small Claims court. That means that must get a court order. And although that is an abbreviated process, it’s going to take more than 48 hours. They cannot just summarily throw you out, or lock you out. If they do, they’re liable for big punitive damages. Nor can they try to “smoke you out” by cutting off the electricity or other utilities.

Bottom line: hold your ground. They cannot throw you out or take any other action to force you out without a court order.

If you have a consumer law issue that you’re concerned about, give me a call. I’d be glad to talk to you without an initial charge.

You can reach me at fbcallicoat@gmail.com or 918 409-2462.

Weasel Words (aka disclaimer): This is not legal advice. This is a general interest blog post. Unless we have a signed representation agreement, I am not your attorney and you are not my client.

Help! My landlord told me to get out by tomorrow!

“Help! My landlord has given me 48 hours to leave my apartment and I have no place to go!”

Unfortunately, this was a real life plea I received just the other day.

The man on the phone told me that he’d had a dispute with his landlord (who occupied the bottom floor of a two-story dwelling) that the tenant and his pregnant wife and baby had rented the upper floor.

“Is that legal”, he wondered?

No, it is not legal.  Not under Oklahoma law.

In order for a landlord to evict someone, they must file a Forcible Entry and Detainer action with the Small Claims court. That means that must get a court order. And although that is an abbreviated process, it’s going to take more than 48 hours. They cannot just summarily throw you out, or lock you out. If they do, they’re liable for big punitive damages. Nor can they try to “smoke you out” by cutting off the electricity or other utilities.

Bottom line: hold your ground. They cannot throw you out or take any other action to force you out without a court order.

If you have a consumer law issue that you’re concerned about, give me a call. I’d be glad to talk to you without an initial charge.

You can reach me at fbcallicoat@gmail.com or 918 409-2462.

Weasel Words (aka disclaimer): This is not legal advice. This is a general interest blog post. Unless we have a signed representation agreement, I am not your attorney and you are not my client.

Real Life, Real Bankruptcy: Can I Keep My Car?


It’s a question I get all the time: “Can I keep my car if I file bankruptcy?”

That answer is a definite Maybe.”

The good news is that in most cases, in Oklahoma where I practice, most debtors have sufficient exemptions to cover their vehicles. In other words, they don’t have to worry about the bankruptcy trustee being able to seize and sell their cars for the benefit of their creditors.

Let’s back up a bit.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is known as a “Liquidation Bankruptcy” because theoretically the debtors’ property can be seized and sold to satisfy their debts. Certain property is exempt from this liquidation process, however. This is because bankruptcy has a public policy purpose of giving honest debtors (people who owe money) a chance at a “fresh start”, i.e. by wiping away their unsecured debts.


For example, in Oklahoma you have an exemption for your home, your clothing, and your furniture. A person couldn’t very well make a “fresh start” without clothes on their back, and a roof over their head, and furniture to sleep on. Similarly, Oklahoma law allows each debtor (husband and wife) to exempt an automobile that is worth up to $7,500 each, or $15,000 together. You gotta have transportation, after all.

But that’s not the end of the story.

In bankruptcy, you have three — count ’em, (uno, dos, tres) THREE — options with secured property (property which is collateral for a debt, like your car): Abandon, Redeem, or Reaffirm.

To heck with the cheese, get me outta this trap!

Let’s say you’ve got a car note, and the new-car-smell and a slick salesman talked you into buying some real genuine faux woodgrain plastic trim, and Corinthian leather seating and a 500 CD changer that you just can’t afford. (Never happens, I know, but humor me.) Under bankruptcy law you have the right to abandon or surrender the collateral (in this case, the car) back to the creditor and discharge any remaining obligation to pay the note. It’s a quick and relatively painless way to get out from under a car note which is “upside-down”, i.e., on which you owe more than the car is worth. But what if you want to keep it?

Let’s Make a Deal: Redemption and Reaffirmation

But there are two more options, other than simply abandoning the property back to the creditor. You may also choose to either redeem the property for its fair market value, or reaffirm that property by entering into a negotiated contract with the creditor to keep paying for the collateral.

Pursuant to your redemption rights under 11 U.S.C. 722, you can offer a lump sum payment to the creditor for what the car is actually worth — as opposed to what you owe on it. This is done by motion, and requires a court order to accomplish. Nonetheless, this could be a good deal if the property has a fair market value that is substantially less than what is owed, AND you have the ability to find a lump sum to offer to the creditors. (For obvious reasons, this is not often possible when the value of the automobile is thousands of dollars. Works great with consumer items like furniture and appliances.)

Reaffirmation (see 11 USC 524(c)(3)) is a binding contract that survives the bankruptcy discharge. It is voluntarily entered into by the debtor and creditor, and it must be approved by the court in some circumstances. Theoretically, they are negotiated anew with new terms for payment, interest rate, term, etc. When a debtor reaffirms a debt, they agree to relinquish their right to a discharge of that debt, and in return keep the collateral (car, etc.) that serves as security for the note or obligation. Because of this “waiver” of their discharge rights, courts are increasingly looking on reaffirmation agreements with a jaundiced eye — after all, why bother filing bankruptcy if you’re going to emerge on the other side with the same debts you had going in to the process? An approved reaffirmation agreement will allow the debtors to continue enjoying that new-car-smell — for a price.

Yes, No, and Maybe

And that leads us directly to the “Maybe”.

Since the courts are increasingly disinclined to approve reaffirmation agreements, there are some big hoops to jump through if a debtor wants to enter into one of these agreements. First and foremost, they must prove to their attorney and to the court that the reaffirmation agreement is in their best interest. This is more difficult than it may seem — especially so if the car payment is way outta whack (a technical term of art I favor) with the debtor’s budget. Let’s face it — if you’re making $25,000 a year, you’ve got no business with a $300 car payment.

Part of that decision necessarily involves whether or not your budget and future income will allow you to pay for the car. If your bankruptcy Schedule I (Income) and your bankruptcy Schedule J (Expenses) don’t show sufficient excess income to cover the car payment, prepare to say goodbye to those Corinthian leather seats and that 500 CD changer installed in the trunk, or that $18,000 Harley you bought for Mother’s Day. It ain’t gonna happen, Bro.

If you are facing financial difficulties and having trouble paying your bills, give me a call. I’ve been there, done that, and can help you. Whether it’s bankruptcy or defense of a lawsuit, I can let you know what the options are. As I often say, I know where the rocks are in this particular river. Let me be your river guide.

Call me at 918 409-2462 or write to me at fbcallicoat@jarboelaw.com for free consultation.

Weasel Words (aka disclaimer): this is not legal advice, this is a general information blog post on the internet. (And if it’s on the internet, it’s gotta be true, right? Uh … no.) If you haven’t paid me a retainer, you are not (yet) my client and should not rely on any of this information to make any decisions. The law is complicated. The facts even more so. If I could have learned the law by reading blogs, I’d ask for money back from those three plus years of hell I paid for in law school.






The Secret History of the Credit Card


From PBS Frontline: The Secret History of the Credit Card


  • Ever wondered why you send your credit card payments to South Dakota instead of Wall Street?
  • Why credit card companies are able to change the rate of interest on stuff you already bought?
  • Why your credit card can raise its interest rate because you were late on another company’s credit card?
These questions and more are answered in a 2004 PBS Frontline Documentary The Secret History of the Credit Card

If you’re struggling with credit card debt, give me a call at 918 582-6131 or send me an email (fbcallicoat@gmail.com). My vocation is helping people find financial peace of mind in their lives by eliminating debt. Don’t let debt destroy your family’s peace. FBC





An Economics Reporter’s Personal Financial Crisis

New York Times reporter, Edmund Andrews is about to lose his Silver Springs, MD home to foreclosure.

My Personal Credit Crisis
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
Published: May 14, 2009

If there was anybody who should have avoided the mortgage catastrophe, it was I. As an economics reporter for The New York Times, I have been the paper’s chief eyes and ears on the Federal Reserve for the past six years. I watched Alan Greenspan and his successor, Ben S. Bernanke, at close range. I wrote several early-warning articles in 2004 about the spike in go-go mortgages. Before that, I had a hand in covering the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the Russia meltdown in 1998 and the dot-com collapse in 2000. I know a lot about the curveballs that the economy can throw at us.

But in 2004, I joined millions of otherwise-sane Americans in what we now know was a catastrophic binge on overpriced real estate and reckless mortgages. Nobody duped or hypnotized me. Like so many others — borrowers, lenders and the Wall Street dealmakers behind them — I just thought I could beat the odds. We all had our reasons. The brokers and dealmakers were scoring huge commissions. Ordinary homebuyers were stretching to get into first houses, or bigger houses, or better neighborhoods. Some were greedy, some were desperate and some were deceived.

As for me, I had two utterly compelling reasons for taking the plunge: the money was there, and I was in love.

You can read the rest of Mr. Andrew’s story at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/17/magazine/17foreclosure-t.html

It’s an admirable example of courage and a service to those who will tread the same paths after him; he is writing
about his personal crisis and thus serves as a warning bell in our long, collective financial night.

Mr. Andrews is in the same boat as so many Americans today, who are losing or about to lose their homes to foreclosure. Go read the rest of the story. And then ask yourself,


“Am I so different that this couldn’t happen to me?”


If you need assistance with a foreclosure or credit crisis, please call or email me. I can’t help Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, but I might be able to help you (or a friend or loved one facing the same difficulties.) FBC

fbcallicoat@jarboelaw.com; 918 582-6131