Tennessee residents who have medical, credit card or any other type of debt that can be discharged through bankruptcy should file as soon a possible. This is also true for those who have a debt-to-income ratio that is higher than 40 percent. The longer a person waits to file, the less likely it is to get a fresh financial start because of asset depletion. In some cases, individuals don’t even buy food to help avoid bankruptcy.

A report using data from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project found that in 66 percent of cases, individuals who filed for bankruptcy spent two years or more in what is referred to as the “sweatbox”. In some cases, individuals waited five years or more to file. The sweatbox is a time in which individuals are facing lawsuits or foregoing basic needs but have not yet filed for bankruptcy.

The report from the Notre Dame Law Review analyzed 3,200 cases between 2013 and 2016. Those who were considered to be long-strugglers were more likely to face lawsuits than other debtors and had a debt-to-income ratio 40 percent higher than other debtors. While individuals often decide against filing for bankruptcy because of the stigma attached to it, the system was designed to give honest people a fresh financial start.

Those who are looking for debt relief in a timely manner may get it by filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Individuals are generally allowed to have debt balances reorganized and paid over three or five years. During the repayment period, individuals may be able to retain property like a home or car. An attorney can provide information on the eligibility and other requirements of this particular chapter.