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Why I Empower People to Rise Above Their Financial Difficulties

Up until I was 29 I had no debt and was fearful of credit. It just didn't even occur to me to try to use it. When I needed something I paid cash for it, and if I didn't have the money, I didn't buy it. I graduated college without any student loans. My parents paid for half my tuition and I paid the other. I was able to pay my half from working through my summers at a beach club in Breezy Point, Queens, and in the winter at a restaurant on Long Island.

I graduated college without any debt, however, I also graduated college without clear direction. Law School had always been in the back of my mind, but I wasn't quite ready to go. I started working for a major theme restaurant in New York City and worked my way to General Manager within two years. The owner liked me enough to rent me his apartment across the street from the restaurant. It was on Christopher and Bleeker in the heart of Greenwich Village, New York City. By the time I had worked there for six years, I had a renewed desire to go to law school. In early 1999, I studied for the LSAT while running the restaurant. I aced the test and applied for Cardozo Law School in New York City. Cardozo is a great school, but it also has a program where you could start your first semester in January, while just about every other school requires you to start in September. In effect, the program allows you to finish law school in 2 1/2 years instead of three. Cardozo was also within ten minutes walking distance from my apartment. I gave the owner of the restaurant several months notice and helped train the new general manager. He had no problem continuing to rent me his apartment. (I can't really relay the significance of this to those who have never lived in the city--but this was a rent controlled apartment in the West Village. Very Very Prime real estate. My 400 sq foot apartment was $1100 per 2000. Yes, this is considered a steal in NYC)

I started law school in January 2000.

So, being that I didn't want to work and go to school, I took out student loans to cover tuition and living expenses. Banks sent pre-approved credit cards with high limits. I started using them. I finished my first year of law school in August 2000, and started my second year in September 2000. During the summer of my second year of law school, I worked as an intern for the New York City Office of the Corporation Counsel. They are the lawyers for New York City-and they fill a skyscraper. What worked out again beautifully was that my apartment was about a mile away. I expected to be hired by the City after graduation. And that summer I thought it would be good to make some extra money and continue working there after the summer internship officially ended. I extended my work there until August 31, 2011. They scheduled a final review, basically where they would offer you a job or not after graduation, for September 14, 2011. As an aside, the New York City Office of the Corporation Counsel is located at 100 Church Street in Manhattan. If you stood in front of the building, you could hit the World Trade Center with a rock.

Then 9/11 happened. I lived about a mile from the Trade Center when it happened and I heard the first plane hit from my apartment. I had a family law class at 9 am that morning-and I was running late. (It took me ten minutes to walk to school and the first plane hit at 8:57 am). I left my apartment and immediately noticed taxis stopped in the middle of seventh avenue. The drivers were out of their cars looking downtown. When I got to seventh avenue I looked downtown and saw the flames on the north tower. From where I was it looked like it was a little plane. That was the rumor on the ground in NYC at 9:00 am. I continued towards 5th avenue. Same thing with taxis stopped and people dumbstruck gazing towards the towers. In front of my law school, I could still see the fire in the north tower. I went inside anyway to goto class. Nothing was going on in class. I went back outside and that was when the second plane hit. I remember the screams and people pointing and everyone there was convinced it was a bomb. We were looking downtown, and the plane came from the other direction. We never saw the plane. Taxis were stopped mid street blaring their radios. People huddled around the taxis to hear just what was going on. Then the word came that the Pentagon was hit as well...and everyone around the cars just fled. I headed back towards my apartment. Stopping for brief moments around stopped taxis to hear the radio. I went to the restaurant I had formally run. I stayed there awhile. I watched the towers fall while standing in the middle of seventh avenue in front of the Jekyll and Hyde Pub. A few dust covered ambulances streamed up seventh avenue (seventh avenue is a down the site was very unusual-made even more surreal by the steam of white dust following them) towards St Vincent's Hospital. Over the radio there was a plea for clothes for the injured. I ran to my apartment and quickly gathered clothes in a bag and ran to the hospital. When I arrived there a few minutes later...the Hospital had a triage set up in front. Doctors and nurses were ready for the injured. Crowds were all standing there with bags of clothes at hand-like me. No one came. They weren't bringing in any injured.

Before the sun set, a stench just set in that I will never forget. It was a thick smoke that permeated the walls of my apartment. I felt it with every breath I took. It didn't just offend the nose-it offended the lungs. In the days that followed...I passed the walls with the photos of those missing plastered for what seemed to be blocks. Passing a firehouse, you'd see glass candles huddled together in front of the entrance. Flowers tilted against the firehouse walls. I remember can they even get in. Only to be overcome by the realization that the majority of the fireman from that station were dead. And during the days that passed, I remember Armed soldiers with M-16's demanded id before allowing me to pass to and from law school. No one was allowed below 14th Street without just cause to prevent looting.

The entire city went into a collective shock. The City imposed a hiring freeze. The public sector soon followed, albeit without as much of a public policy.

So I graduated May 2002 with the city still very much reeling from 9/11. I had 124,000 in student loan debt and 30k in credit card debt. Credit was still readily available. I went through the shuffling of balances to the 0% interest cards. I borrowed from Peter to appease Paul-if only temporarily.

After nine months I took a job working for a small Personal Injury firm making 30k per year. I needed something. It was enough to barely get by-but I had to put the student loans in forbearance. I got married, and moved to Florida to be closer to family. I was still just getting by juggling. By this time I had about 45k in credit card debt.

In 2005, my wife was pregnant with our second child, William. I had been late on my Bank of America credit card payment...6 times. Not 30 days late, but one or two days late. Enough to not be on time. Because of that, Bank of America raised my interest rate to 29.99%. My $200 per month minimum went to $600 per month. That was the tipping point. I didn't call Bank of America but they would not lower the interest rate or the minimum payment. I had to choose between rent and the credit card payment. I started thinking to the future. In several months my son would be born and then 6 weeks later my wife would go back to work. That meant daycare expenses. $130 per week to be exact. I knew I was not going to be able to pay for daycare, housing, food and my car and pay just the minimums on the credit card debt.

I don't for one second say this was the bank's fault-they wouldn't work with me. My point here is that I lived for awhile as if good money was coming soon. I can take this debt on now. It'll work out no problem. And then BAM. As blah blah says, Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground. And further-not to sound like 9/11 was to blame. I got ahead of myself. I didn't have a financial plan. Until I had to. I started exploring options. When researching bankruptcy I started reading about the looming change in the law due Oct 2005. I decided to file before the change in the law. I could either pay for rent, food, and childcare, or I could pay my creditors. Bottom line was I could not do both. I filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in July or August 2005.

I can relate to the feeling of being out of control financially and feeling like you are not only financially, but spiritually defeated.

I know what it's like to reach for the next best quick fix. Remember the days of 0% balance transfers? (Don't quite have them nowadays). I lived through them. You cant quite find those deals anymore....but the juggling still continues. The bowling pins just change names.

I know what its like to receive a credit card bill and not want to look at the balance. So instead you opt to not open it.

I know what its like to feel the stress of trying to stay afloat and trying to convince your spouse everything is fine.

I know I know what its like to worry about how you are going to take care of your kids if you don't get relief.

I also know how relieved I felt when I finally had a real plan. Because let me tell you-bankruptcy is another fix. It's not a cure. Listen-if you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got. Its so simple-it's insulting. But how many time's have you said-after being saved from the brink of financial disaster--yet again--that you will never let this happen again. Only to...well, to let it happen again. This time, financial stress comes through the window instead of the front door. It doesn't matter-if you don't change the way you approach you finances-you will experience some type of stress again. This I guarantee.

I approach bankruptcy differently than any other bankruptcy attorney who graces you with their presence for 15 minutes. I've been where you have been. On the other side of the attorneys desk seeking advice on filing bankruptcy. And that is why when I started my firm in 2006 I knew I wanted to help people struggling financially as I did. And now I am determined more than ever to help people not only navigate through bankruptcy-you can go to a mill for that-but to empower you to for once and for all take control of your financial destiny.

What would it mean to you to not only have temporary relief-but a plan for financial success?

Sure you want things to change. So did I. But the biggest secret I had was I didn't know how to. I didn't even know where to begin. And if you stop and ask yourself how you'll do things differently this time--sure, you may have an idea-but I have a pretty good feeling you don't know how. Why? Because I've been in your shoes...right where you're standing. And it was a humbling experience for me to realize that my best laid financial plans amounted to shit. It took a fresh pair of eyes that understood and genuinely cared about my success.

What I can promise you is that the services I provide are comprehensive financial assistance that you will not find in any other bankruptcy firm. I can walk you through a bankruptcy in my sleep. (And most bankruptcy mills will). But how many others will actually sit with you and show you how you can survive after bankruptcy. How many others will take in interest in seeing your success after filing?

Come let me show you how.

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Law Office of Keith Will Wynne, Esq. - Plant City Bankruptcy Lawyer

Plant City Office - 1001 E. Baker Street, Suite 101, Plant City, FL 33563. Phone: (813) 567-5894 | Local Phone: (813) 752-3100.

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