It’s good to have realistic expectations: Chapter 13 plans can be quite strict. But at the same time, knowing the facts can prevent you from scaring yourself out of a financial decision you truly need to make.
Most plans include an entertainment budget.
Just keep in mind it may be considerably lower than you are used to.
But even bankruptcy trustees don’t expect anyone to last for years without ever spending a single dime on entertainment. That would be unrealistic, and nobody would ever finish their plans.
You can move your money around in your budget all you want.
As long as you make your bankruptcy payments and mortgage payments, the trustees aren’t really going to pay attention to the minutiae of how you spend your day-to-day funds.
If you have $600 allocated for groceries and you only spend $400, you can splurge the entire $200 on entertainment if you want.
Trustees only need to approve what you do when you’re making a big purchase, like a car.
Don’t forget about free and cheap fun!
Bankruptcy can sometimes challenge families to find free entertainment. And there’s often more than you think.
You can rent movies at the library. More and more libraries are carrying entire seasons of shows (which means you could skip Netflix). You could also attend free movie nights at your local library or park.
You might also be able to take advantage of concerts in Central Park. The Good Morning America Concert is free, and the Summerstage Festival is free, and there are lots of other options.
And there are lots of other ideas you can take advantage of. Keep your eye on local events, meetups, classes, and more.
Ask your attorney to help you negotiate.
Did you know that negotiating your Chapter 13 payment plan is one of the things your bankruptcy attorney does for you? This is one reason why it’s almost impossible to successfully declare Chapter 13 without help.
With a bit of expertise on your side though, you can increase your chances of getting a budget you can live with.
And when things seem tough, remember: when you finish your plan, life will be better than ever. You’ll be able to afford a lot more fun when you’re not making all those debt payments.