Can You ‘Bank’ Off Bankruptcy?

Around the United States, consumers are trying to get back on their feet following the recent economic crisis. As the recovery effort begins, many Americans are facing mounting debt and continued creditor calls. In some cases, bankruptcy is the financial fresh start that will help many consumers get back in the black.Filing bankruptcy is not an easy decision, and should only be considered after all other options are exhausted. If you are considering filing, contact a dedicated bankruptcy attorney immediately. This person will advise you whether you are qualified for bankruptcy and guide you through the proceedings.Bankruptcy is not a magic cure all for your financial problems, but there are a few benefits. It will immediately stop all creditors from seeking payment until after your debts are sorted out. It will also allow you a chance to catch up on missed payments, prevent repossession of your car, stop foreclosure filing against your home and restore or prevent termination of your utility services.Consult closely with your debt attorney, and be sure you understand what filing for bankruptcy cannot do. It cannot eliminate the rights of secured creditors, including those who hold mortgages for your home. Bankruptcy cannot discharge debts singled out by bankruptcy law, such as alimony, child support or student loans. It will not protect any cosigners on your debt or discharge debts that arise after bankruptcy is filed.Chapter 13Any time you file bankruptcy it is damaging to your credit history, but Chapter 13 will do the least permanent damage. Generally a bankruptcy stays on your credit history for 10 years but if you receive your Chapter 13 discharge, the Chapter 13 will be off your credit report in 7 years from when you originally filed the Chapter 13. The Chapter 13 entails filing a plan with the court about how you will pay off your past due debts over a 3 to 5 year period of time. It allows you to keep valuable property, including your car or your home, which could be lost in other forms of bankruptcy filing.Your bankruptcy attorney will likely recommend Chapter 13 if you own your home and are in danger of losing it; if you are behind in your debt but could catch up given a little time; or if you have valuable property that is not exempt in other bankruptcy filings that you will not need to liquidate to pay your debts.Should you decide to file, your Chapter 13 plan will need to be accepted by the Court and you will begin to make Chapter 13 payments to the Court-appointed Trustee. You will be responsible for making a monthly payment to the Trustee who will disburse the money to all of your creditors. Your bankruptcy attorney will be able to explain the payment process to you. You will also meet with the Trustee in a meeting with your bankruptcy attorney in which the Trustee will review the Chapter 13 Plan to determine if it is acceptable to the Court.In determining what kinds of debts go into your payment plan, your bankruptcy attorney will first determine what kinds of debt you have. Your debts will fall into three categories: secured debts paid outside the payment plan; secured debts paid as part of the payment plan; and unsecured debts.Secured debts like mortgage payments are generally paid outside of the payment plan and directly by you. These debts must continue to be paid on-time or else collection efforts can continue. Generally, secured debts like a car payment are paid as part of the payment plan. The car loan company will still receive their payment and generally cannot repossess your vehicle so long as you remain current with your Chapter 13 payment.The final kind of debt called unsecured debt includes debts like credit card debt, personal loans, and medical bills. These debts are always paid in your Chapter 13 plan at 0% interest and generally at much less than the full amount owed. This is where the majority of consumers find the Chapter 13 to be the most beneficial to obtain the financial relief they are looking for.Finally, any creditors outside the court’s payment plan – or debts accrued after bankruptcy was filed – must be paid on a timely basis. These debts can include utility bills or credit card bills, and will fall outside the scope of the bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction.Before deciding to file for Chapter 13 or any other form of bankruptcy, it is vital to consult with a dedicated debt collection lawyer. Only someone who is familiar with bankruptcy law can give you the best advice about how to proceed and whether bankruptcy is the best option for you.

The Six Phases of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking can be defined as “learning to think better by improving one’s thinking skills.” Individuals who are critical thinkers use the thinking process to analyze (consider and reflect) and synthesize (piece together) what they have learned or are currently learning. Unfortunately, much of everyone’s thinking tends to be biased, imprecise, unclear, uninformed or prejudiced. Since this becomes severely limiting, critical thinking is needed to improve its quality and value.Within the organizational setting critical thinking is necessary for: overcoming problems, making changes, modifications or adaptations within work structures, methods and problem solving situations, resolving situational conflict and pressing issues, and inventing and implementing new ideas, techniques and solutions.Critical thinking development is a gradual process. It requires: mastering plateaus of learning as well as maintaining a serious focus on the process itself, changing personal habits of thought, which tends to be a long-range project, and extensive development time.Within the process of critical thinking it is important to recognize what does not comprise its basic elements or components. Critical thinking is not accomplished by: saying something without carefully thinking it through, taking a guess at what one thinks “should” be done, memorizing material to analyze, discuss or examine, doing something just because it has always been done, believing something because it is what everyone else tends to believe, or arguing about something when there are no facts to back up the argument.Critical Thinking QualitiesThere are certain qualities critical thinkers possess and these characteristics tend to categorize individuals as “deep thinkers,” which separates them from more typical “basic thinkers.” Critical thinkers tend to be self-disciplined, self-directed, self-monitored and self-corrective thinkers. They raise essential or crucial questions and problems and then proceed to formulate them clearly and precisely. Critical thinkers gather, assemble, evaluate and appraise relevant information. They come to well-reasoned deductions, conclusions and solutions, while measuring and testing them against relevant standards and criteria. They also keep an open mind within alternative systems of thought while continually recognizing and assessing their assumptions and lines of reasoning. Finally, critical thinkers communicate effectively with others in seeking out and determining solutions for challenges and problems.There tends to be six developmental thinking phases that lead to “mastering” the art of critical thinking. Through extensive practice and applications of the process, individuals can expect to begin altering and eventually changing their individual habits of thought. Each progressive phase is described below.Phase One: The Unenlightened Thinker – individuals generally are not consciously aware that significant problems do exist within their current patterns of thinking.Phase Two: The Confronted Thinker – individuals are aware that existing problems are evident or apparent within their process of thinking.Phase Three: The Novice Thinker – individuals try to initiate improvements within their thinking, but without relying on regular or consistent practice.Phase Four: The Proactive Thinker – individuals do recognize the importance of regular practice to improve and enhance their thinking.Phase Five: The Developed Thinker – individuals begin to advance in accordance with the amount of practice that is awarded to the process.Phase Six: The Mastery Thinker – individuals become skilled and insightful, where reflective, analytical and evaluative thinking becomes second nature.Individuals can only develop through these phases if they accept the fact that there are serious problems with their current processes and methods of thinking, and are able to accept the challenge that their thinking presents to them and make it a point to begin regular practice to improve and enhance the components and elements of critical thinking.Critical Thinking Relies Upon Clarity of PurposeIn order to develop critical thinking, it is important for individuals to be clear as to the purpose of the task or topic at hand, and the main question that is at issue in regard to it. To accomplish this goal, it is essential to: strive to be clear, accurate, precise and relevant, practice thinking beneath the surface, be logical and fair-minded, apply critical thinking skills to all reading, writing, speaking and listening activities, and apply these skills to all aspects of work as well as life in general.Questioning: The Impetus for Critical ThinkingDead questions reflect dead minds. Unfortunately, most individuals, (even managers, leaders and trainers) tend not to ask many thought-stimulating types of questions. They tend to stick to dead questions like, “Is this going to be what is expected from now on?” or, “How are we supposed to understand (or do) this?” and other questions that outwardly imply the desire not to think.Some managers, leaders, trainers or facilitators in turn are not themselves generators of in-depth questions and answers of their own making, which aids in establishing non-critical thinking environments. These individuals are not seriously engaged in thinking through or rethinking through their own initiatives, issues, concerns, topics or instructional concepts and resort to being mere purveyors of the “questions and answers of others.” They often end up initiating or responding to some initial concerns or issues that tend to surface spontaneously during a discussion or meeting, without having personal background information that would otherwise help stimulate deeper levels of creative probing and evaluative questioning. Sometimes they tend to apply second-hand information, knowledge or questions that have been passed down, which limits creative assessments and deeper level questioning. Often they find themselves referencing authors or others who are considered to be experts or leaders in their field rather than questioning important workplace-related issues, ideas, methods or concerns that need to be probed in-depth.Questioning Through Critical Thinking Keeps the Organization AliveEvery company stays alive only to the extent that fresh questions are generated and taken seriously. These questions are then used as the driving force for generating and implementing changes. To think through or rethink anything, individuals within an organization must ask questions that stimulate deeper levels of thought. Questions define tasks, express problems and identify issues. While answers on the other hand, often signal a full stop in thought. Only when answers generate further questions does thought continue to add value in terms of personal as well as organizational growth and change.It is important to remember that individuals within an organization, who generate and ask serious and insightful questions, are the ones who are, in fact, truly thinking, developing and learning. It is possible to move an organization forward by just asking employees to list all of the questions that they have about an issue, method or topic, including all questions generated by their first list of questions. However, deep questions drive out thoughts that rest underneath the surface of things and force individuals to deal with complexity. While questions of purpose force individuals to define “their task,” questions of information force individuals to look at their source(s) of information as well as its quality.Excerpt: Developing Critical Thinking Skills: The Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Seriesby Timothy Bednarz (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011).

Entertainment Center Rack

When it comes to Entertainment Centers, you want to choose the one that fits the room the best. There’s a lot of equipment to be put on an entertainment and as such, you should be thorough and efficient when deciding which one to pick in regards to how much equipment you have and what kind of space you have. Keep in mind, however, that an entertainment furniture doesn’t just have to be one unit. It could be several units, big or small.There are many options available. An entertainment rack furniture will provide users a nifty space to place their audio and visual equipment in an organized fashion, all the while finding a place for your television, surround sound system, or even video game console.With many options available, the consumer must be careful to note how much space they have and what they want to with it. It’s important to note that a good entertainment rack should have sufficient space to hide the wiring that comes with all electronics.It is one of the first items that guests look at when they walk into the house. Keep that in mind when deciding on an entertainment center rack.They do make good additions to your home theater room. Your home theater room should be a room that entertains and excites. No one likes to watch a movie in a theater room that looks disjointed and unorganized.Do the smart thing and buy an entertainment center rack at low prices with high quality.

Home Based Business Franchises On The Rise

For decades, franchises have been a staple of the American economy, but the barrier to entry has typically been several hundred thousand dollars (if not millions).  Franchises offer the stability and success rate of a well known (and well proven) brand and business strategy, while still requiring and employing many of the entrepreneurial skills required to run a startup.  A growing trend in the last few years, however, has been the advent of inexpensive, and highly lucrative, home based business franchises. The businesses range from lawn care and home maintenance franchises like CleanPro USA (an entirely innovative spin on carpet cleaning), to entirely web-based franchises like L&L Opportunity (a home based business that delivers groceries directly to the customer’s home) and this home based segment of the franchise market has taken off over the past few year, quite unexpectedly.  While a home based business is attractive to many people simply because of the fact that you get to work from home, the recent recession and the rise in technological advances over the last several years has made the prospect of starting your own home based franchise more attractive than ever.A struggling economy is bad for just about everyone, and just about every industry, but one thing that seems to thrive when the economy doesn’t is home based businesses.  This is not to say that home based businesses only succeed in poor economic times, but rather; starting a home based business entails investing in yourself, and that is one of the best investments you can make in an unstable economy.The economy, however, is not the only reason that home based businesses have seen a bump in popularity lately; technology in general (and the internet specifically) is allowing sophisticated businesses, that typically would have taken an entire staff to operate, to be run out of a home office, sometimes by a single person.  Having the ability to advertise, take orders, ship product and schedule services all from a website makes the entire process for many home based businesses much easier (and much cheaper) than ever before.Franchisors have capitalized on this new market as well, enabling budding entrepreneurs to start and run their own home business without any formal training, and without even having a “million dollar idea” of their own.  While many people unfamiliar with the category might associate the word franchise with fast food restaurants and chain-stores in the mall, there’s a vast number of franchises available today that can be operated with as little as one employee and can be started sometimes from anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to tens of thousands, depending on the particular type of franchise.An important thing to note when digging further into the world of home business is to know the difference between legitimate home businesses and work from home scams.  Drive through any metropolitan area (or browse the web for 20 min for the matter) and you’ll no doubt come across someone claiming that you can make upwards of ten thousand dollars per months working from home without any real effort or skills needed.  Make no mistake, there’s still no such thing as a free lunch, but modern technologies have enabled legitimate home business opportunities, just know what to look for.  You can find legitimate franchises through a reputable franchise broker; unless the franchise you’re looking at has been recommended by someone you personally know and trust, or by a reputable franchise broker that has vetted the franchise and made sure that it’s legitimate, don’t take the risk.  A sure fire way to spot a scam is when you’re promised a lot for very little.  A real home business will require a lot of hard work to get started, and will require hard work to maintain it.