The economic challenges for many Upper Cumberland residents are real right now. And bankruptcy may be a necessary option.
Local bankruptcy attorney Cindy Podis said act sooner rather than later. Podis said you should consider all your options long before you run out of money.
“Bankruptcy is a legal option,” Podis said. “It gives you a chance to take a breath and to make sure your family is protected and that your personal and real property, land, house, car, money in the bank is protected for you and your family in these times.”
As soon as you begin feeling concerns about your financial situation, Podis said start making calls to see what help might be available.
“First I would contact your electric and water provider if you have one and ask them to defer those payments,” Podis said. “Talk to your landlord or your mortgage company, ask for a deferral of your rent or mortgage for a month if you’ve been laid off. It sounds like it’s a 60 day process right now.”
Podis said make a phone call to your credit card company, too, in an effort to deal with fees and payments. You should also build a budget focused on both the money going in and going out.
Money tucked away in a 401K retirement plan can be a tempting option in troubled financial times. Podis said avoid the temptation.
“Try not to sell items that could have been protected under the bankruptcy, try not to raid your 401K if you can stay away from it because it’s fully protected,” Podis said. “IRA’s, 401K’s, and retirement plans are fully protected if you end up filing for a bankruptcy.”
As for the COVID-19 stimulus checks, Podis said use the money wisely. Focus on basic needs such as rent, groceries, and utilities.
Cookeville’s Podis and Podis offers free bankruptcy consultations for local residents needing to talk about their options.