Going under financially...


My husband and I are in our mid-sixties. We moved into manufactured housing 7 years ago because the house was priced very low. At the time, I was not yet handling the finances so was kind of oblivious to “the future”. Now, due to my husband’s declining health, I am handling the money which consists of our 2 SS checks, period. There are no assets, IRA, annuities, or extra help of any kind. Over the past few years, we’ve had to pay for my mom’s burial which cost us $7,000. Home repairs were over $3,000, 2 maxed out credit cards are close to $1,000 a month. The mortgage payments and HOA fees have gone up $100 a month each. We simply don’t have enough money. I am fearful that with not being able to pay some of our bills, I am ruining our credit and we need to move out of this too-expensive house. We probably won’t get a mortgage loan. I have trimmed all the “fat” I can from our budget. In addition, our house needs some work to be put up for sale and not only can I not do it, we can’t afford to have it done. We “make” too much from SS to qualify for any help. I’m pretty sure the organizations who help seniors out would tell us the same thing if we applied for help with the house. We’ve been denied right and left for more help. No Medicaid, no HEAP, no SSI. A Miller Trust wouldn’t work because I need the money to pay bills. Hubby has to stay in our home for us to get the full SS. Moving to a townhome or apartment is not an option. I will not give up my dog. Non-negotiable. Plus, apartments in this area are over a thousand a month and that’s no savings. We don’t qualify for Section 8. I cannot continue to care for my husband, manage finances that we need and aren’t there, and worry about losing the house. I tried to talk to him about it and he responded by telling me how cute the dog was, sitting on the sofa. And then went back to sleep. Please...help!

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Yes, of course...in chapter 7 the whole goal is to liquidate to pay the creditors whatever can be liquidated...and then to eliminate all remaining debt.

So, if you cannot afford the house...then you would not be allowed to re-affirm that debt... you would get to exempt a certain amount of equity in the house and car...a certain amount in cash, etc (depends on the state rules). The rest is taken over by the trustee and liquidated. If the house has no equity... then you let the bank take it.

You get the benefit of having no debt and no further worries about house and house payments.

Preparing for chapter 7 allows. You time to get some amount of financial footing before it is all gone.  

Honestly, it is your choice to sink under the financial burden or keep the pet. But, it looks like it is going to come down to that choice. Just don't wait until you lose everything and the pets too.
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Never, ever give up a landline telephone. When you call 911, the emergency Dispatcher automatically sees your name and home address, and if for some medical reason you cannot talk, the Dispatcher will automatically send out EMT and a fire truck as a well fare check.

I realize some cellphone have a GPS ping, that maybe an extra charge. If one is using a cellphone without such an option, emergency can only pin down one's location from the nearest cell-tower, and if one lives in a neighborhood of 400 homes around that cell tower, that slows down response time greatly.

Such a situation was a story line on the brand new "9-1-1" TV show where a family just moved into their new home, a young daughter was home alone when she hears a break in... she called 911 on her cellphone, but she didn't know her address, all the houses were the same color. It took emergency a lot of time to locate the house, where they used a fire truck with the siren, going up and down every street in this huge subdivision, until the Dispatcher could hear the siren, and eventually narrow down the house.

What if this situation was a person having heart attack, lot of very precious minutes were wasted.
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I can fully understand your concerns about the dog. When my marriage ended and I did not know where I was going to be living I had 4 pets. It took over 2 years before I was settled and knew I could keep the pets.

I also had to be prepared to give them up, which was heart breaking. In the end, I was able to keep them, but it was a very difficult time.

Check with local animal rescues, I know where I live that they sometimes arrange for people to foster animals in the short term. Knowing that there maybe a place for your dog to stay while you look for a new pet friendly home may help with the worry.

It sounds like most the work needed on your home is elbow grease with some minor repairs. Talk with a realtor about what you could get for the home with or without the work being done on it. It the difference is not greater than the effort, do not do the work. If you are going for bankruptcy, then you probably will not do any work.

Check in your state as to the costs of filing for bankruptcy, where I live it costs $1500 to file, but I am in Canada, so the rules will be different. It is a shock to find out there is a cost involved, when you do not have enough to meet your bills.

Make a budget and stick to it. You may be surprised to see how much you are spending on extras. The $30.00 your son is suggesting you save is $360.00 per year. That would be a healthy payment on a credit card.

Budgeting and financial planning is something I enjoy helping people with. One obstacle is figuring out where the money is being spent. We all tend to under estimate how much we spend and where we spend it. It is a week into January, record everything you have spent so far this month, even if it is with 'found money', the $5 bill you found in a jacket pocket, or the gift card you received for Christmas. Continue for the month. Make sure you add in bank fees, interest on credit cards, late fees on bill payments.

Look at your grocery bill, where can you cut costs? Does the store discount meat if you go first thing in the morning? Can you eat less meat, or augment it with other sources of protein, eggs, beans, lentils etc? Do you eat produce in season when it is less expensive? Are you eating all the groceries you buy, or are some being tossed, because they spoil before you can eat them? Do you have produce markets nearby? Where I live I can save up to 50% of fruit and vegies when I buy from the produce market as opposed to the grocery store.

It can be surprising where money is being spent without our really noticing. I am a tea drinking and it costs $2.00 for a cup of tea at the cafeteria at my Uni. I drink two cups of tea a day while at school. I carry a travel mug, my tea and use a kettle in a lounge to make my tea, thus saving $4 per pay or $80.00 per month. My electric bill is $80.00 per month in the winter (when I cannot use my clothes line).

For one client, I recently discovered he is paying an average of $45.00 for month to service a line of credit, while $1300 is sitting in an investment account, not earning any interest. Now to convince him to put the cash against the line of credit, so reduce the interest payable.

Budgeting may not help you get out of the situation you are currently in, but it will help you avoid getting into this situation again.

I think in your first post, you stated that you cannot afford for your hubby to go into care, as you will lose his share of SS, which you need to continue to live in the house. I am guessing he would be applying for Medicare. Have you checked to see if there are any seniors housing places near you that accept pets so you can keep the dog if you dh moves into care?
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I use Ooma as my VoIP "home" phone (through my computer/internet connection) which is $6/month and have a cell phone through Consumer Cellular which is a month-by-month plan that you can scale up or down each month. I pay $30/month for that. I have a smartphone (Android - Huawei, which I bought through Consumer Cellular) so I can get/send texts, check my email and internet. So my total phone bill is $36/month with no contracts.

And I totally understand wanting to keep your dog. I would think you could find rental properties that would allow that.
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These are all wonderful suggestions and I am so grateful to you all for caring. I was not aware that with Chapter 7, we would lose our house. The ramifications of this would just about guarantee that I would also lose my dog. Silly, I know. But she’s pretty much all I have right now.
I have spoken with a realtor today. I could tell she has some doubt we could secure a loan and suggests renting. My son mentioned FHA. The realtor sounds like the sort who would be
knowledgeable about that sort of loan. I will also be calling our local Agency on Aging tomorrow to see what help is out there. I appreciate all your research on my behalf. We do not have a landline but I am considering selling my fancy iPhone to pay off the installment plan and canceling my cell plan. I’d then go with a non-contract phone for a third of the cost of the fancy phone. Status, at this point, is meaningless.
Thank you again. I feel so much less alone since posting my original question.
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I thought of something else. Get rid of your land telephone line and only have one cell phone which you manage yourself. Between the both of these, that will be another $200 a month or in that area.
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Katiekate is correct. Do not let them talk you into Chapter 13, because this does not erase the debt. It reschedules payments out but at this time you need cash flow. I also agree with her that definitely meed to speak to a couple attorneys that specialize in bankruptcy. There is one firm that I found on lawyers.com which is located in your town and the name of the firm is Krugliak, Wilkens, Griffiths and their number is 877-876-9958. They have locations in Canton, Alliance, and Akron. Let them know your circumstances not only with your debts, but the finances, your health, etc and if they can't help have them make a referral.

I also noticed that there is a home depot in your town. Their number is 330-422-0401 and just speak to the customer service desk and let them know your circumstances, and if they know if there is a group or person that they could recommend for these small jobs.

After this and since you have an illness as you stated; you may want to ask the attorney about a referral for a disability attorney. If you can at least get a partial disability, have the credit card debts cleared, and you have your 2 social security checks; this is all you may need to breathe again. Think about it.

Also, there is a home repair outfit by the name of Spot-onhomes.com and there telephone number is 330-283-8029. These would be the people to call if Home Depot is unavailable to help.

Good Luck and keep us up to date.
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If you declare bankruptcy .. chapter 7... you will lose the house...but...

You will get to live there rent and mortgage free until the bank does foreclosure. This can take 6 months or more...buying you time to same for the move. And investigate where to move.

Starting 2 months before you declare bankruptcy..you stop making any payments on credit cards, etc. another sayings.
Put the savings into those things you will have to have. Have an attorney direct you.

Be smart... talk to 3 attorneys about this...first. The consult is always free. Do not let them try to talk you into a chapter 13.

Go check out the website bkforum. There are attorneys there that can give you advice.

Bankruptcy is a chance to get a fresh start...and you need that.
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Evermore, What needs to be done to our house is mostly cosmetic. A good cleaning from wall-washing to floor scrubbing. 2 cupboard doors are missing in the kitchen and one in the bath. The wall by hubby’s bed needs to be patched and some paint needs to be touched up.  A few planks of the vinyl floor are coming up which could probably be fixed with construction adhesive. Everything else is ok as far as I know.
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I am beginning to think bankruptcy is going to be the way to go. My son is trying to be helpful by suggesting how to cut down on our expenses, but to save $30 or $40 a month on something would not help much. I shop at Aldi’s, who does not accept coupons, but their prices are very good. I cannot get even a part time job because my health is not the greatest. I suffer from fibromyalgia and lately have been having a great many bad days. Plus, I am hesitant to leave hubby alone. We had a house fire hear a few years ago and the senior owner of the home was killed. What’s killing us, in truth, are the mortgage, lot fee, and the two credit card payments. Because our loan is not a typical home loan, I don’t believe we can refinance. I was able to lower the one credit card payment last year, but may call them next week and see if I can do it again.
We have a friend who is a lawyer and I’m thinking of calling him as well. Thank you all for your help!
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