FindLaw.com Survey Finds Most Americans Fail to Set or Follow Budgets
EAGAN, Minn., Oct. 12 -- A record number of people are expected to file for personal bankruptcy this year, rushing to beat a change in the law that may make it more difficult and expensive for people to file for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy reform, which takes effect Oct. 17, requires credit counseling for those filing for bankruptcy, and sets income limits on those who will be allowed to file for Chapter 7 liquidation of debts.
More than 2 million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2004, according to American Bankruptcy Institute data, and millions more are awash in debt. Total household debt in the U.S. has doubled in only the last five years according to Federal Reserve Bank figures.
A new survey by the legal Web site FindLaw.com found that 61 percent of Americans either don't have a household budget or have difficulty sticking to their budget.
While seven out of 10 people surveyed said they have a household budget, nearly half of those who set a budget said they either had trouble sticking to that budget this year or completely gave up trying to follow it.
"Most people either fail to set a budget or aren't disciplined enough to stay within their budget, primarily because of the ease of using credit cards," said William Norton III, author of Norton Bankruptcy Law and Practice 2d, published by Thomson West.
"Having a budget and living within your means are essential to keeping your finances healthy," said Norton. "Many people have trouble sticking to their budgets because it's easy for them to use their credit cards when they should be exercising some restraint. If you do use a credit card, you should always pay off the balance in full each month, and never carry balances and accrue interest charges. If you buy something and can't pay for it that same month, then you probably shouldn't buy it."
Norton advises that people might find it easier to stick to their budgets if they simply stop using their credit cards altogether.
Information on the new bankruptcy law, tips on how to manage debt and help in finding a bankruptcy attorney can be found at Web sites such as FindLaw.com.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The survey questioned a demographically balanced sample of 1,000 American adults, and results are accurate to plus or minus 3 percent. The survey was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs.
About Thomson FindLaw
Thomson FindLaw (www.findlaw.com) is the leading provider of online legal information and solutions for the legal community, businesses and individuals. According to comScore Media Metrix, a leading independent Web usage reporting service, the FindLaw.com Internet portal is the highest-trafficked legal Web site with 3.7 million unique monthly users - three times more than its closest competitor. The site provides comprehensive, plain-English legal information to businesses and individuals. These resources include West Legal Directory©, the Internet's largest directory of lawyers and legal professionals. FindLaw.com also offers comprehensive information, resources and services for law practice and legal career development, including free case law, an online career center, breaking legal news, newsletters, message boards, service directories, continuing legal education and legal search tools. In addition, Thomson FindLaw provides access to tools and services that help connect legal professionals with potential clients. Thomson FindLaw is a business within The Thomson Corporation (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC)