Personal Finance 

PFB Spotlight – The Debt Podcast

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This will be the first Personal Finance Blogger Spotlight that will feature a podcaster, The Debt Podcast. The Debt Podcast is run by Jay, a bankruptcy and consumer law attorney in New York City who has over ten years of experience, and he’s been podcasting for quite some time now. I’ve listened to some of his podcasts and they’re very informative, last between ten to twenty minutes, and are released every business day.

Whereas most of the personal finance bloggers out there aren’t actual professionals, Jay is a bankruptcy lawyer so the things he says or suggests carry a bit more authority, at least for me.

If you’d like to be interviewed for this series, please send me an email and we can set something up.

I hope you enjoy the interview!

jim: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Jay: I’ve been a bankruptcy and consumer law attorney in New York City for over ten years. I’m also the New York State chairperson of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, the largest national organization of lawyers working to help consumers out of debt.

jim: When and why did you start a podcast?
Jay: I started the Debt Podcast in July 2005 as a result of all of the misinformation out there about consumer finance issues. With the average American family carrying over $9,000 in unsecured debt, these issues touch nearly everyone.
jim: Is there anything that makes your perspective unique?
Jay: As a bankruptcy and consumer law attorney I have been exposed to people from every walk of life. I’ve helped people solve personal finance problems and have been involved in the rehabilitation of their personal balance sheets, so I’ve seen quite a bit more than the average consumer.
jim: What’s your favorite personal finance book and why?
Jay: I think a lot of personal finance books are filled with smoke and mirrors, but contain some good information if the reader is willing to work for it. Suze Orman’s The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke is a prime example of a book that has a few gems amidst the hype. I also like Get A Financial Life by Beth Kobliner. For a terrific overview of credit reporting, I highly recommend Credit Scores and Credit Reports by Evan Hendricks. Evan is incredibly knowledgeable on the topic of credit reports and credit scoring, and writes in a very user-friendly way.

And finally, no review of personal finance and the consumer economy would be complete without The Two-Income Trap by Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren. It’s a fascinating read that focuses on the reasons why our society almost forces people into crushing levels of debt.

jim: Which of your podcasts do you think all your listeners should listen to?
Jay: There’s a tremendous amount of information in virtually every show. The entire month of January has been set aside for our Resolution Helpers, which is designed to give people information and tips on how to keep a resolution to get out of debt and improve someone’s personal finance picture. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on the series.
jim: What financial “mistake” bothers you the most?
Jay: People think that they need to HAVE as much as possible in order to prove their success. They buy expensive cars and homes, spend lavishly on vacations they can’t afford, and forget that there may come a time when the money isn’t there anymore and the bills need to be paid.
jim: What was your best financial decision to date?
Jay: I purchased my home in 1997 as a rental, and locked in the purchase price at that time. By the time I closed in 1999 (I had a 2 year lock on the price) my home had already appreciated significantly. The other financial decision I made about five years ago was to stop using credit cards of any kind; it’s forced me to learn how to live within my means, which is an interesting and ultimately fulfilling experience.
jim: What is your favorite personal finance blog and why?
Jay: I read a bunch of personal finance blogs, running from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity and Five Cent Nickel all the way to sites like “No Credit Needed” and “Budgeting Babe”. I also just recently started reading “Make Love, Not Debt” which is compelling because of the dynamics involved; many relationships end because of money problems, and talking about finances is more difficult than talking about sex or religion for many people. I’ll be interested to see where they take their blog.
jim: If your podcast ended today, how would you like people to remember it?
Jay: I’d like it to be remembered as an invaluable resource where people could get their personal finance questions answered in a no-nonsense, plain-talking fashion. And I’d like people to be upset that it ended before it’s time.
jim: Please tell me a little about the Debt Relief Law Center of New
York and what you folks do there.
Jay: The Debt Relief Law Center of New York is a New York bankruptcy and consumer law firm. For over a decade we’ve been counseling people about ways to end their debt problems. That doesn’t mean that we only do bankruptcy work for our clients. In fact, we turn about 50% of all new clients away from bankruptcy and give them other options such as credit counseling or proper budgeting. We don’t believe that bankruptcy is the right way for everyone to get out of debt, and find that many people just need some ideas on how to tackle their personal finance problems in a more effective way.

We also help people correct errors on their credit reports, deal with debt collector abuses, and work with our clients to get their personal finances in order so that they never again have to deal with the agony that comes with being over your head in debt.

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