C.S. asks from Waterbury, CT on October 06, 2010
Bankruptcy - Waterbury,CT
We are considering filing for Bankruptcy. We had a rough year in 2007. Now we have mounting bills. We ranked up quite the large electricity bill. The fees and interest are so high, we cant chip away at the balance. We have some old credit cards bills that are in collections. All and all its a total of $20,000 in debt.
We have a good and stable income now. We are much more responsible with our money. I would love to put money into savings and into a 401k. Paying these high interest accounts is leaving us with nothing left. I just want a fresh start.
We have an appt with an attorney in 2 weeks. I'm looking for other experiences with filing for bankruptcy. Any regrets? Or did it really give you the fresh start you were looking for? How much did it all cost when it was said and done?
I know this is going to be on our credit for 10 years. I would rather get the chance to do it over and do it right. These debts on our credit cant be much better.
Thanks for the input!
D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on October 06, 2010
I don't want to come across as harsh, but too many people think bankruptcy is a quick fix for bad financial decisions and/or unwise spending. It's neither.
You made the debt, the bad choices, and bad credit already--now it's time to clean it up!
Get on the Dave Ramsay plan for paying down debt in a sensible, reasonable way. If you focus on one debt at a time. No--it's not going to be fast--or easy--but it can be done! Live on less than you make and you won't have a problem. Good luck!
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B.M. answers from Chicago on October 06, 2010
I equate bankruptcy to divorce (and I've done both). Both seem like they will solve problems, but they don't - they just give you a whole new set of problems. Sometimes the new set is better than the old set and sometimes you thought you were going to relieve pressure when, in fact, you don't - you just add to it.
My understanding is that lendors are WAY more lenient these days than back when I declared bankruptcy as part of my divorce. But, you will still face some of the following:
*Your insurance rates (car / renters / homeowner etc) will go up next time the company "randomly" checks your credit (if they do that).
*You will have landlords that won't rent to you. Some may ask you to pay a higher amount per month or put down a hefty fee.
*For a while (I think it's a year) you won't be able to have a CREDIT card - just a debit card. After that time you can get one (with higher interest) or pre-paid, but until then you can't rent a car or a hotel room at some places.
*You will pay more for a mortgage or a vehicle loan.
*You will have 'high interest' cards and loans for the next 10 years.
*You won't be able to qualify for some PLUS educational loans without a co-signer (not sure how old your kids are and if you are looking at college).
*Some jobs run credit checks.
Good Luck with your decision.
Sometimes the 'extra' penalties that you pay (unless you start paying everything with cash and/or live BELOW your means) will take money from what you have available each month and then it become cyclical - right now you say you can't get ahead because of high interest credit cards - but you will pay higher interest and penalties for the next 10 years.
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L.P. answers from Pittsburgh on October 06, 2010
It's been over 10 years now since I considered bankruptcy, so I don't remember much of the details, and things have certainly changed since then. I only want to caution you about one thing... I, too, went to consult with an attorney who specialized in bankruptcy. Bottom line is they want your business. So they will tell you every reason you SHOULD declare bankruptcy, and downplay any of the multitude of reasons not to do it. They will make it look like the absolute best and simplest option for you. But be extremely cautious.
After I consulted with the bankruptcy attorney, and had all but signed the papers, I decided to consult with a bank, just for some additional perspective on how bankruptcy would impact me in the long run. And holy moly, did the attorney paint a rosy picture of a very gloomy prospect. After speaking to the banker, I decided unequivocally that I did not want to deal with the different set of problems that bankruptcy would cause me.
So, as a single person, paying for my own apartment, car, etc., with a basic middle class job, I paid off $27,000 of debt in 4 years. That's a hell of a lot less time than the 10 years (at least) that you'll deal with the ramifications of bankruptcy. And with no aftermath. Once it was paid, it was paid. And I was free. And let me tell you how I celebrated after I paid my last payment. It was overwhelming.
Many people have recommended reading Dave Ramsey's books or attending his seminars, as he is absolutley the go to guy these days for getting out of a mountain of debt (not by magic, but by hard work and sacrifice), but his method works. And he takes you beyond getting out of debt to gaining financial freedom by managing your money properly. He gives step by step instructions for how to do this. I recently got his book - Total Money Makeover, and I can't wait to read through it. Not for debt, but for gaining financial freedom.
Best wishes. I know it's a tough decision.
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L.M. answers from New York on October 06, 2010
I know a few people who have gone the bankruptcy route. You say it'll be on your credit for 10 years, reality more like 15. Yes, it'll show on your credit reports, but since you won't qualify for credit (or when you do, you'll pay outrageous interest rates), you won't be able to establish credit. It's not a fresh start or a quick fix.
You say you can't chip away at the balances. Have you tried? If you have stable income now, it shouldn't be a problem.
Have you called the electric company? Most utility companies will set up a payment plan with you that will eliminate the fees and high interest.
If the credit cards are in collections that should mean they are no longer charging you interest. Have you set up a payment schedule with the collection agencies?
I may be way off base here, but it appears that you've made some poor financial decissions (we all have at one point) and now you don't want to live up to your obligations. You have the chance to do it right. Sit down, make a budget, and pay off your debts. You can do it much faster than 10 years and in the processes you'll be building up your credit rating.
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T.M. answers from Philadelphia on October 06, 2010
I completely agree with Brenna M., she is right on the money in explaining that in the long run you'll be paying much more.
Also, let me be frank with you. I understand that you've had a bad few years or so, but filing for bankruptcy is not fair to everyone else! You put a ton of stuff you couldn't afford on credit and now you tell the credit company that you have no intention of paying it back. In order for them to absorb the cost of YOUR debt they just pass the cost along to other fair standing credit users in terms of fees and interest rates. It's just not right. I think that instead you should keep chipping away at paying off what you've accumulated. Contact that credit companies and tell them that you are going to pay off your debt and see if they can work with you in any way. You yourself said you are making a stable income now, use that income to pay off your debt.
That is just my two cents (which usually doesn't count for much). Good luck!
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A.L. answers from Chicago on October 06, 2010
Call the credit companies and tell them that you can't pay it off because of the interest rates, and therefore you will file bankruptcy. They will work with you, they would rather get something than nothing.
1 mom found this helpful
J.K. answers from Phoenix on October 06, 2010
I totally agree with the comment about Dave Ramsey. Read his book, "Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. I don't know your situation exactly BUT there might be a better way. It'll take a lot of work but it'll be worth it in the end!!
1 mom found this helpful