It is not uncommon to find yourself facing debt that you know you can’t afford to pay off. Many people end up in financial trouble because of a divorce, an illness, a job loss or something else outside their control. But others end up buried in debt and consider bankruptcy because they aren’t living within their means.

We can be our own worst enemies when it comes to spending beyond what we can afford. In some communities, one of the most common areas of overspending is housing. Are you living in a house you know you can’t afford?

Housing trends and smart practices

The mortgage crisis has subsided. Most banks are not giving out subprime mortgages any more. “Stated income” loans, “Option ARMs” and other lending calamities are largely a thing of the past. That’s good.

But it is still fashionable to spend 40 percent, 50 percent or more of one’s income on a home while leaving inadequate financial room for the unexpected. Maybe you think you can’t live without that large house on the cul-de-sac or the two bedrooms that you know you don’t need. Perhaps you’ve convinced yourself that your kids need to be in the right schools or that the safety or convenience of the neighborhood is worth it.

Keeping up with the Joneses can be expensive, and it can be disastrous if anything happens to your household earnings. You might know that in your gut.

Various organizations make recommendations about how much of your money should go into housing. It may be worthwhile to explore housing alternatives if you are struggling to pay your bills each month.

Bankruptcy can be useful

For many individuals and families, debt is a serious problem that won’t go away on its own. Moving to more affordable housing may be the answer, or it may not be. If you are considering bankruptcy as a debt relief option, talk to a professional who can evaluate your situation and give you some answers.