Virtually everyone has an opinion about bankruptcy. Some people think it’s a sign of weakness, laziness or irresponsibility. Others swear that it is a smart, perfectly legal way to contend with nasty creditors. Still others see bankruptcy court as a place in which to deal pragmatically with life-altering problems that are outside of their control — problems like illness, divorce or a job layoff. What do you think about bankruptcy?
Without a doubt, bankruptcy can be scary. It should be taken seriously and never entered into without careful consideration and planning. If you are in debt that you know you can’t get out of on your own, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of a Chapter 7, 13 or 11 bankruptcy filing. Since there is so much misinformation on the Internet, on social media and in the minds of the general public, it can be useful to look inside yourself and decide what fears are logical and what fears are mythological.
What’s the worst thing that could happen?
Some people have fears about their credit scores or their ability to borrow, while others face an ethical dilemma about not paying off all their debt:
- I am an irresponsible person if I file for bankruptcy. My family and friends will think I’m a freeloader who cops out of my responsibilities. Or worse, they’ll see me as A FAILURE in general.
- My credit will be destroyed. A bankruptcy will affect my credit scores for 7-10 years. I won’t be able to buy a home or anything else important for, well, forever almost.
- My professional reputation and/or business life will be ruined. I will be publicly humiliated. Nobody will trust me with their business or professional needs.
We won’t go into explanations of why these objections aren’t true. (If — in reality — your friends, family and business associates would shun or humiliate you because of legitimate financial problems, it may be time to rethink those relationships.)
Many bankruptcy fears are based on falsehood and insecurity
When it comes to excessive debt and bankruptcy, what should you really be afraid of? These are some of our suggestions:
- Be scared of making thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars of unsecured debt payments that will essentially go down the toilet.
- Be afraid of remaining a slave to a credit card company, a big bank or a hospital corporation.
- Be petrified of doing nothing when you have the ability to do something to improve your financial situation.
- Be frightened of working 40 to 60 hours a week for years — and never getting ahead.
Talk to a lawyer if you need advice about bankruptcy
Every debt situation is different. Bankruptcy may NOT be the best thing for you and your family. But you’ll never know for sure if you don’t seek real advice from an experienced attorney — not a Facebook post, a well-meaning family friend, a TV show or a stranger on social media. Confront your fears so you can get the help you need.