Filing for personal bankruptcy should not be seen as a cop-out. It is not only a choice for those who are financially irresponsible. From CEO’s to entertainers, to small business owners and the everyday American, bankruptcy can happen to anybody for a variety of reasons.
Medical debt can lead to bankruptcy, as can credit card debt, the loss of a job, divorce or a failing business.
Let’s not discount the economy for its role in bankruptcy. In 2008, during the middle of the Great Recession (2007-2010), Nearly 1.1 million Americans filed for consumer (personal) bankruptcy.
Myths demonizing bankruptcy are easy to find, but just because they are on the internet, doesn’t make them accurate. Don’t let anyone kid you and tell you that bankruptcy is an easy out. It isn’t. If accepted for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will face a giant hit to your credit score that will take 7 to 10 years to recover and may have to relinquish some of your assets to pay your debts.
Myth #1: The more positive your credit report is before filing bankruptcy, the better score you’ll have post-bankruptcy
Answer: False. The disparity of positive and negative marks on your credit score will do little to nothing if you file for bankruptcy, but the more severe your bankruptcy (large amounts of debt and many accounts on credit report), the bigger the hit to your score. Bankruptcy is a safe step toward financial relief and a newfound financial future, but your credit score will suffer for 7 (Chapter 13) to 10 (Chapter 7) years.
Myth #2: There is nothing you can do to improve your credit score while the bankruptcy mark is on your report
Answer: Suffering from a poor credit score does not need to be a seven to 10-year journey. Count on a major hit for at least four to five years, but as soon as your debts are cleared, you can begin healing your credit score through a secured credit card (requires a security deposit) or a small personal loan. Creditors will likely be weary, but if you can manage the small loan or credit usage correctly, this strategy will improve your credit history and financial well-being.
Myth #3: Bankruptcy can relieve all debt
Answer: It cannot. Bankruptcy does not discharge debts like child support, alimony, student loans and certain tax debts.
Myth #4: Thanks to bankruptcy, all my financial issues are solved
Answer: Bankruptcy is not a complete financial savior. While it leads to the discharging of many debts, it does not cure what led to the debts (lost job, medical issues, fiscal irresponsibility, etc.). To fight against bankruptcy, take the time while recovering and learn proper money management techniques. Also, consider aligning your life in a way (maybe you have to downsize or sell off some property) that allows some financial leeway.