Christmas and Mortgage Payments: Don’t Confuse Priorities!

10 Dec Christmas and Mortgage Payments: Don’t Confuse Priorities!

Being in bankruptcy means remembering priorities. A big priority is keeping a roof over your head. As I have in the past, I will suggest that this is even more important than Christmas.

If you have had to file bankruptcy, your budget is probably already tight. If you recently filed Chapter 7, you probably don’t have a lot of money left over each month. If you are in a Chapter 13, any extra money you have is probably going to your trustee to make plan payments.

If you are retaining your home and paying the mortgage yourself, don’t miss those payments! (If the mortgage goes through the Chapter 13 trustee, make sure you keep paying him!) We all want to make Christmas fun. There are people in your family that you love very much and want to make happy. It would be easy to do that by missing just one mortgage payment.

It’s easy to convince yourself to do that. You know you’ll tighten your belt next month and catch it up. You might get a year-end bonus. And tax refunds are just around the corner. Like Santa Claus, these are beautiful ideas. But please don’t believe in them.

The mortgage servicer you pay is waiting and watching. It’s entirely possible that they only make a profit on managing your loan if you make a mistake. So they are happy when you do and will pursue their rights to take your home if you default on payments. Sometimes you’ll even hear someone in their customer service say that missing just that one payment won’t be a problem — they’re lying to you to get you off the phone! A good rule of thumb is — If the anonymous voice on the phone tells you something you want to hear, it’s probably not true.

Remember getting into the “Robbing Peter to Pay Paul” routine is potentially lethal. Your family could end up homeless. Even if that doesn’t happen, you could end up paying a lot more than your mortgage — in legal fees — to deal with the fallout. And you will not sleep well at night until it is all fixed, if it can be.

I tell my clients that the mortgage gets paid before their children get fed. If you want your home, that is (in effect) what the Congress has said your priority must be. It’s brutal but it is clear.

So celebrate Christmas by remembering you still have a roof over your head. That’s the blessing for this year. Savor it and protect it.


Photo credit: David Shankbone

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I have been a bankruptcy attorney since 1989. Our firm represents consumers filing bankruptcy almost exclusively, although I have represented bankruptcy trustees as well as creditors. For 2017-2018 I am also serving on the American Bankruptcy Institute's Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy. If you live in Eastern Missouri, visit our website, send an e-mail or give us a call (314) 781-3400. Our website:
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