Bankruptcy is designed to assist people with starting fresh, but many wait too long before seeking help.
A major benefit of bankruptcy is a fresh financial start. Even courts recognize that bankruptcy law is designed to give “…the honest but unfortunate debtor…a new opportunity in life and a clear field for future effort, unhampered by the pressure and discouragement of preexisting debt.”*
Despite this benefit, many people postpone the process of getting help and starting over.
If debt is negatively affecting your life, it may be time to get help.
As a bankruptcy attorney licensed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, I’ve counseled many people just like you through the bankruptcy process. The people I have helped often lived for years with mounting debt that not only became impossible to pay back, but also affected the way they live.
Non-stop bills and collection notices piled up because they became too mentally taxing to deal with. Calls had to be screened or phones turned off altogether due to incessant calls from aggressive debt collectors. Judgments entered because clients thought that ignoring the collection lawsuit they were served with would just make it disappear. And foreclosure sales were scheduled, and sometimes held, because the client had fallen so far behind on mortgage payments that they didn’t even know what to do anymore.
Why did it take so long to ask for help? Almost always, the client was held back by strong emotions that arise when dealing with debt.
What’s standing in the way of your fresh financial future?
Getting to a place where you can mentally deal with debt is not always easy. It often involves overcoming charged emotions like guilt, shame and embarrassment, and requires strength to talk back to self-defeating thoughts that erroneously justify putting off getting help to another day.
Getting to a point where you can mentally deal with debt almost always requires a breakthrough moment where things click and you finally decide that enough is enough.
One of my favorite authors, Steven Pressfield, beautifully writes about breakthrough moments in The Art of War. Pressfield, who also wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance, describes how he was in his 50s before achieving any real success as an author. What took so long? He was held back by Resistance (with a capital “R”), which, among other things, is the accumulation of emotions like fear, self-doubt and negative self-talk that keep so many from accomplishing what needs to be done. One day, after years of delay and frustration, Pressfield forced himself to sit down at a typewriter for two hours and just write. That small step did not itself produce a masterpiece, but it was a turning point that helped Pressfield tame the thoughts that had been holding him back.
Dealing with debt is not unlike Pressfield’s struggle. Making a positive change in life, including dealing with debt, often requires a breakthrough moment.
What will be your breakthrough moment with overwhelming debt?
My clients have had many break through moments. Sometimes those moments come from external events, like being served with a collection lawsuit, having a bank account frozen, or receiving a foreclosure notice. These types of moments are like a swift kick in the pants and need little explanation.
However, a breakthrough moment may also be more subtle, like finally accepting that you did not intentionally create the situation you are in. Your debt is most likely the result of either financial mistakes or circumstances entirely out of your control.
Perhaps you opened a credit card with a high interest rate so that you could build good credit. In the beginning, you committed to paying the bill in full each month. That went well until the balance grew to a level where you could only afford to make minimum payments. Now, with accruing interest, late fees and charges, the balance is out of control. It may have been a mistake to open the credit card account in the first place, but that’s all it was: a mistake. You now have a better handle on how to handle your finances, and you could really just use a do-over.
Maybe you have always been good with your money, bills paid in full and on time, and little if any debt. Suddenly, an accident or serious medical problem lands you in the hospital. You’re left with a hefty hospital bill and unable to work. For the first time ever, bills start to pile up and you’re dipping into savings just to get by. These aren’t events you can control, and you’re not required to suffer under the financial burden that comes with them.
Accepting that your debt is the result of unintentional financial mistakes or unforeseen circumstances is often the turning point for getting back on track. What will be your breakthrough moment?
A fresh start is closer than you think.
Whether your breakthrough moment comes in the form of a kick in the pants, or is more subtle, it will undoubtedly increase your ability to see and pursue solutions.
Once you realize this, getting help is easier than you think. Often picking up the phone and calling a bankruptcy attorney is all it takes to get started down the road toward a fresh financial start.
Initial action, even initial small steps like asking for help, go a long way toward killing the inertia that’s been holding you back for too long.
*Quote from the case of Local Loan Co. v. Hunt, 292 U.S. 234 (1934).
Are you ready for a fresh start?