Attorney Christine Kingston Talks about New Year’s Resolutions and Goals

Katherine:

Hello everyone. We’re here with our friend, a bankruptcy attorney Christine Kingston, and it’s a New Year and she’s going to talk with us about New Year’s resolutions, or New Year’s goals. She’ll let us know which one we really should be focusing on. Welcome back Christine, how are you?

Christine:

Katherine, I’m fantastic. Happy New Year to you and everyone listening. Thank you.

Katherine:

Let’s just jump right into it. It’s a new year and lots of times people have things that they resolve, that they’re going to do different this time, but I think you have a different point of view on that, let’s talk about it.

Christine:

Right. Everyone talks about new year’s resolutions, “What are you going to do in 2017 that was different in 2016?” It’s amazing how … My husband gets upset, because he works out a lot, so we talk about exercise, we want to get fit, or maybe we want to get out of debt. It’s always funny, because in January the gyms are completely full and by December they’re completely empty. What happens during that time? What is it that just is missing that these resolutions don’t work out? Every year we go, “I’m going lose weight again.” Well, okay, let’s move on to something different and say, instead of creating a resolution, or go ahead and call it that, it’s really also a goal, right? Resolutions are synonymous with goals. We want to achieve something different than what we have before. The problem is I think that there’s no energy behind it, there’s no action that’s being taken.

Kind of reminds me of the story about a man stuck on the roof and a guy comes by in a boat saying, “Hey, you need some help?” The guy says, “God’s going to help me, it’s okay.” Then a helicopter comes by, drops a line, and says, “Hey, you need to be rescued and helped.” He says, “No, no, no, don’t worry about it. God’s taking care of me.” Then more people come by to help and he refuses help from anyone. He ends up dying on the roof. Goes up to heaven and says, “Hey God, what happened?” God says, “Listen, I sent you the guy in the boat, the guy in the helicopter, and a bunch of other people and you refused all my help.”

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Katherine:

Absolutely.

Christine:

It’s kind of like that, you want to achieve something. We know that it’s going to take more than just yourself to get out of debt. We would say that, if you’re just going to take one step this year towards actually getting out of debt, as an example, then maybe just take the first step and start talking to people about your situation. You’d be surprised to find out who’s in the similar situation and what they’ve done to solve their problem, or whether or not they’re still having that issue themselves. It may lead you to some professionals that can also give you some alternative perspective and some strategies that actually might work. I think the biggest step, especially when it comes to our money, it’s such a taboo topic still. First step, we need to start talking about it, Katherine.

Katherine:

That’s an elephant in the room. It’s interesting the things that we will do and what we won’t do. We won’t talk about our money, we won’t talk about our credit score, we won’t talk about the situation that we’re in, because it’s very taboo.

Christine:

That’s right.

Katherine:

They talk about on jobs, don’t talk about how much you get paid, and don’t talk about politics, and religion on the job. It’s been thrown in one of those categories of being taboo and uncomfortable, but absolutely. Why would you encourage us to do something that’s so taboo? Why would we override that and start talking about it?

Christine:

Well, it’s like anything that’s mysterious, or unknown, or scary. Think about … I mean, I know when I was a kid I was afraid of the dark. I used to think that there were monsters in my closet and under my bed. If I kept my toes and my hands on my bed and my closet door closed, then I was safe. Otherwise, I was going to be exposed to the potential monsters under my bed and in my closet, right? Think about it in the sense that, it’s one of those monsters that maybe people are afraid to talk about bankruptcy because everybody tells them, and it’s because all of the banks, and the people, and the entities, all these companies, the corporations are marketing to you such that you’re afraid of your credit score, you’re afraid of not paying your bills because you know the debt collectors can come after you. It creates this fear and this obligation that people have to fulfill, but what they don’t understand is what they’re legally entitled to.

By not exploring it, by keeping your head buried in the sand, you lose the opportunity to find a solution quickly, more cheaply, and more fast … I can’t even say the word. I mean, absolutely quicker than doing this out on your own without the knowledge, the skills, or the ability to get the job done with other strategies. It’s how much time are you willing to spend to get yourself out of debt, and how much money are you willing to spend in doing that, as opposed to, maybe talking to about three to five different people. Here’s what I recommend, they talk to a bankruptcy lawyer. I recommend that people talk to a realtor or a mortgage broker if their goal is to buy a house, because they need to know what’s holding them back from that.

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Katherine:

Right.

Christine:

Their tax preparer. Are they paying sufficient taxes? We don’t want people to create more debt, because maybe a tax bill’s just going to ruin the budget. We don’t want them to owe taxes and we don’t want them to get a tax refund, because that helps them maximize the monthly budget. Those are things that people can do to help prepare themselves financially. Talking to those different professionals can give them the perspective that they need to create a plan of action that’s going to get them out of debt and get them to buy a house if that’s what they want, or a car, or retirement. Maybe they need to talk to a financial advisor who will help them to understand that paying debt is helping you to get out of debt, but if you did it faster, and you took all that money that you’re paying toward the debt, and you put it towards retirement and savings instead, think about how much more money you could be saving, as opposed to servicing debt, which doesn’t get anybody anywhere except out of a hole and onto flat ground which is ground zero. I know it’s fascinating, isn’t it?

Katherine:

Absolutely. It is, it is. Getting over, exposing the elephant in the room, talking about what our goal is, not our resolution, but … You said you can call it that, but we’re really looking at it as being a goal, something with an end date, end result, something that when I’m here, I know I’ve arrived and talking with someone who’s an expert. Like many of the listeners, I’ve been in the space of thinking, “Yeah, I hear you say talk to experts, but that’s just going to cost me money.” The reality of it is, it’s going to cost you more money not to talk to an expert. I was watching an episode of the Lucy show and her and Ethel were installing a shower, and of course the two of them get together and things become more expensive. Now they’re trying to fix a shower, and now they’ve overflown the shower, and now they have to repair the roof. It’s more expensive than if they would have just let a professional come in.

I’m using that comedy skit, but in reality that’s what we do. It may not happen as fast as it does in a 30 minute sitcom, but over a period of time when we look at it, it does cost us more money. While we might say, “Well, I don’t have it.” You don’t know you don’t have it. I had someone the other day talk about they’re going to hire somebody to help them do a certain thing. I said, “Well, do you know how much that certain thing costs?” They said, “Well, no.” It’s hilarious and I asked because I remember saying it myself, “Oh, I’m going to take the kids on this vacation to DC to see the Smithsonian museum.” Well, it took me many years later to find out that the Smithsonian was free to go to, I just needed to get up to DC. I was like, “How … ” I never looked into it. I just figured these well-known museums must be really expensive.

Christine:

Right.

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Katherine:

I didn’t even have a date on when I would have that really expensive amount I had in my head, I didn’t … It was just really expensive. To find out it was free, it was kind of like, “Slap yourself on the face.” What I’m saying to the audience is, you don’t know how much it’s going to cost, you don’t know until you call someone and say, “How much is it going to cost to sit down with you and talk to you about my debt situation.” You never know, it may be a free consultation that moves you closer. It may be something way under what you thought and you said, “Well, if I give up going out to eat for a couple of days, then I can pay for this service provider to help me.” We just don’t know. It’s somewhere in our head it just sounds, “Oh, too much,” but you don’t know unless you start talking, like Christine said. Awesome.

Christine:

Absolutely.

Katherine:

We’re talking about it, exposing the elephant-

Christine:

I think-

Katherine:

In the room.

Christine:

Exactly. You know what it is too? It reminds me of false assumptions-

Katherine:

Oh yeah.

Christine:

We create a reality based upon our imagination and our limited resources that are available to us. We make instant decisions with very little knowledge and information. These are assumptions that we make that are not always correct. What’s interesting, I think you hit the nail on the head, most professionals provide, including myself, free, no cost, no obligation consultation. Why? Because sometimes we just give it away for free and all people have to do is ask. That’s what my mama says anyway, “It never hurts to ask.” What’s the worst they’re going to say, no? Okay great. At least you know one way not to achieve your goals, right? You just move on until you find a door that opens.

Katherine:

Absolutely, absolutely. Don’t let it just … What did you call it? Because I want to call it perfection paralysis, but it’s a false assumption.

Christine:

Yeah. These are false assumptions, yeah.

Katherine:

Yeah. Don’t get yourself hung up on that and don’t be too prideful to ask for help. That is why people can do things like whatever … I’m talking to the listeners. Whatever it is that you do in your careers and throughout your life, you’re the expert in that area, and so people call on you for your services, and … Christine, I don’t know if there’s something different about you asking me for help, versus, me asking you for help, but that’s what we’re here for to help each other. Just like people will come to you to ask for help, we go to other people to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because I think people think it means that they’re dumb. Dumb is not asking. Absolutely-

Christine:

No, I have an entire team, Katherine, I have an entire team around me. I have a CPA, I have a business coach, I have a business lawyer, I have a bookkeeper. I have an entire team helping me do what I do best, both personally and professionally. I do not do my work alone, I do not do it in isolation and I do not do it in a vacuum. This is what … I practice what I preach. I think that I get better results when I can get on the phone and ask my colleagues and my team for insights, advice, input. What I do is I listen to each and every one of them, and then I do what I like to call, making soup out of it, right? How do you make soup? You throw all the ingredients in the pot, you throw it on simmer, you walk away, you come back eight hours and dinner’s ready. It takes time, and you have to let it sit, and you have to be patient with it.

I think that that’s what making important decisions, especially in and around ones finances, that’s also I think what is necessary is we set our sights on a goal, let’s say in five years I want to be out of debt and own a home, and then what do I need to do to get there? Start talking to different people about the goal, and start talking to your professionals, including the tax preparer, the realtor, the mortgage broker, and the bankruptcy lawyer, and get the input from all of them, and then think about it. Which way is the best way for you? Then pick one and go for it. That’s really what it takes. You need to pull your head out of the sand, and get into action, and we need to make a decision and head in that direction. No regrets. I think whatever is the cheaper, better, faster way for the individual is going to be what’s best for them. The only way they’re going to know, is if they talk to their professionals and sought out the opinions of others and the advice that they’re probably going to need.

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Katherine:

Absolutely, absolutely. Now is there more that we should be thinking about as we’re setting our new year’s goals?

Christine:

Well, hopefully they’ve already been set and I would hope that people might be in action. Obviously, I think the gyms are full right now, so people are in action, especially the ones that want to lose weight. Yeah, and so again, once we’ve gotten to the point where we know that a particular direction is right for us, then it’s only a matter of moving things out of the way, getting rid of the obstacles, so that that path can come. I mean, I have people where I recommend sometimes they do nothing and just wait out a statute of limitations. Maybe they’re that close to it and then all we have to do is credit repair later. On the other hand, I’ve got some older people that are in their 50s wanting to just buy themselves five years to retirement, or set a five year goal and maybe they just want to be done, but they’re struggling because they haven’t been able to pay off debts or somebody’s filing a lawsuit because unfortunate things happen sometimes.

It just, it varies from on one hand, doing nothing is a better option than somebody coming into a bankruptcy payment plan as an option. It just, I think it depends on an individual situation, which is why I encourage people to start talking about it. I just, I want people to talk about their money openly and I don’t want people to be afraid that someone … Like myself, I’m almost out of debt completely and I have some savings in the bank and I’m doing fine financially. Well, I’m here to make a difference for other people that aren’t doing as well as I am. I’m not attached to an outcome, because ultimately it’s my clients lives … It’s their life, I’m just here to make a difference, provide the knowledge to them that they need, and to help them to make well informed decisions. I’m like a change agent for people, no pun intended, when it comes to money.

Katherine:

Absolutely, absolutely. I think we got some … This is very simple, very simple tip from you, but then people need to know how to get in touch with you outside of this interview, but I think it’s some very simple tips and the scariest part is just doing it. While we’re talking about it, you and I talking about it, people say, “Wait a minute. My finances are very personal and it’s going to expose me.” Well, you’re not going to be talking to us on radio about it, you’re going to have a confidential meeting with a professional so that you can have your answers … Your questions answered and no one’s judging you.

Christine:

Exactly.

Katherine:

As long me and Christine have been talking, we want you to know that this is not a bad thing, it’s not a bad situation, sometimes things just get ahead of us, get out of hand. Even if you think that, “I am pretty good with money,” or, “I’m pretty good with finances and it just got away from me, I’ll recover.” Well, don’t try to do it alone, you don’t have to.

Christine:

That’s right.

Katherine:

Christine, tell people how to get in touch with you outside of This Needs To Be Said.

Christine:

Certainly. Toll-free, 877-631-2220 or direct is, 714-533-9210 serving all of California and especially the central district of California where I live and work. On the web it’s www.attorneychristine.com. Spelled out, my name is spelled, C-H-R-I-S-T-I-N-E. Katherine, thank you.

Katherine:

You’re absolutely welcome. Until next time, have a wonderful day.

Christine:

Thank you.

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