For people facing a financial crisis, bankruptcy can feel like the end; a giving up. Peggy Hammerschmidt of Hammerschmidt, Stickradt, & Associates believes differently. “I think what’s really fulfilling is helping people get back on their feet and finding the financial freedom they really need,” she says. “We don’t just eliminate debt for people. We really try to help people revamp their whole financial situation, from putting a budget together to rebuilding their credit score.”
Smaller Firm, Greater Focus
Hammerschmidt, Stickradt, and Associates has been serving the Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties of Michigan since 2001. They’re a small firm, consisting of Peggy, her husband Timothy Stickradt, and one or two staff members depending on the day. It’s this small size that allows HS&A to take a holistic view of each client. As Peggy puts it, “There are much bigger firms out there. I’ve talked to other clients who’ve dealt with these bigger firms. What happens is when they call they talk to one person. When they go in and meet with somebody, they meet with another person. When they go to court, it’s a third person. They never get to talk with somebody who really knows what’s going on with their case.”
Conversely, everyone at HS&A prides themselves on knowing what’s going on with every client. Rather than filing their case, discharging their debt, and sending them on their way, they do their best to ensure their client faces a more hopeful future than the one they walked in with. “They’re not like a number,” she says. “We know them. We know their families.”
Face Your Fears
Peggy finds most of her potential clients walk into her office with one common misconception: filing for bankruptcy means losing everything. Often they’re coming in as a last resort after having already burned through their savings and cashing out their 401(k)s. The truth is, 95% of people filing for bankruptcy get to keep everything they have. “If they had just come in and sat with us first, we could have helped them keep all of those assets they worked so hard for,” says Peggy.
Her #1 tip for anyone facing a major financial hardship is simply to talk with a professional, even if just to get advice. In some cases, they may even discover a less drastic approach. “That always makes me happy, when I can find another solution for clients,” she says. “Don’t ignore the problem. Don’t try to fix it yourself. Go and talk to someone”
Two Guys Walk Into a Dealership
Picture this: two guys walk into a dealership and look at the exact same car. One has a credit score of 550, the other has a credit score of 700. Anyone would assume the man with the higher score will get a better deal. Not many people realize just how much better of a deal. The man with the 550 credit score will pay approximately $150 a month more for the duration of a 36-month payment plan. That’s $5,400 more for the exact same car.
It’s scenarios like this that inspire Peggy and her firm to help clients rebuild their credit after bankruptcy through programs such as 7 Steps to 720. She finds getting clients back on their feet to be the most rewarding part of her job. “Clients call back. They say, ‘You know, as hard as it was to go through, it was the best thing I did. Now I can afford to take care of my kids like I need or buy that house that I really wanted.’ It’s great to see people doing really well six months, a year, or two years down the road.”
If you’re in the Michigan tri-county area and facing financial hardships, reach Hammerschmidt, Stickradt, and Associates at 248-988-8335 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.