Staying afloat financially can be hard in the current economy. All it takes is one lost job or a large medical bill, and suddenly, you are floundering — unable to make your bills each month and facing calls from debt collectors around the clock. In some situations, good planning or a raise may allow you to fight your way out of debt and into a better financial position. But this is not always the case. Sometimes, throwing up your hands and filing bankruptcy really is the best option. Here are some signs that you should make that first appointment with a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.
Sign #1: Your bills have been sent to collections.
If you are still at the point that you are only a few months behind on payments, you may just be able to call your creditors and arrange an amended payment schedule. However, if multiple bills have been sent to collections, then this won't be as easy. Debt collectors can be tough to negotiate with, and they will keep calling and calling until you pay off the debt. This can be very mentally taxing on you. Plus, by the time multiple bills are sent to collections, you often have a ton of debt to dig yourself out of. Declaring bankruptcy will get the debt collectors to stop calling almost immediately. In fact, they're required to stop calling once you file.
Sign #2: Your income is not expected to increase in the foreseeable future.
If you're not able to make your bills now, then you probably won't ever be able to make your bills as long as your income does not increase. If you do not have any prospects for a raise and don't think you can find a job that pays more considering your background and experience, then this is a sign that bankruptcy might be your best way out. Once your debts are forgiven, you can start over and learn to better manage the income you do have so that you don't go into debt again.
Sign #3: Most of your debt is credit card or medical debt.
You can't erase student loan debt, tax debts, or alimony debts via bankruptcy, and you would probably not want to erase your mortgage debt, as that would require that you give up your house. However, credit card debt and medical debt are two kinds of debt that are easily erased in bankruptcy. If most of your debt falls into your categories, that's a good sign that bankruptcy is right for you. On the other hand, if you are struggling to pay your student loans or tax debt, you'll need to contact the lender and negotiate different payment terms — those kinds of debt are rarely discharged and only under very specific circumstances.
Sign #4: You're ready and willing to work hard.
Filing for bankruptcy does give you freedom and a fresh start, but it's a fresh start that you'll have to work for. You'll need to attend credit counseling classes as a condition of your filing. In the years that follow, you will need to live without credit cards until you're eligible to apply for one again, which means you'll need to become a master at budgeting. This will all be hard work, so you're not truly ready to file for bankruptcy until you're ready to put in the effort.
If you think you display the four signs above, visit websites like georgettemillerlaw.com to learn more and get in touch with a bankruptcy attorney in your area. They can go over your finances with you and let you know what your options are going forward.