Monday, August 11, 2014

Great life advice; why do we forget it when it comes to financial trouble?

Will Rogers is credited with saying, “When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.” Not many people argue with this wisdom. But, for some reason, people seem to throw such wisdom out the window when they find themselves in financial problems. You will find many articles like this talking about people throwing good money after bad and people waiting too long before filing for bankruptcy.

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I think people do this for several reasons. First, I think most people just want to pay their debts. They feel obligated to pay their own bills. That is admirable. Other people want to keep the credit. They know that bankruptcy will crash their credit and they will be forced to stop spending. If that spending is for business reasons or medical bills, that is scary.

Also, people seem to be eternal optimists when it comes to paying bills. They always believe the balances are temporary. They will get a better pay soon, their next job will be bigger, etc. I think their debt is almost like that of a gambler; the next hand will bring them back. But the bump never comes and people have spent thousands of dollars they could have kept to help them with their fresh start.

Keep some things in mind. Think before you use your home's equity to pay off credit cards. Remember, credit card debt can be discharged in bankruptcy; a secured loan cannot. Also, pause before you take money from your retirement funds. Again, many times, retirement money is protected in bankruptcy and is money you will need as you age. Finally, think about what happens if you do get that new bigger, better job and a huge bump in pay. You could find your bills are still too much for you to handle but you make too much to qualify for protection under Chapter 7, Liquidation and your only option is a 5-year plan under Chapter 13.

So, take the advice you probably gave to your children. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Don't continue to fund debt, you can never repay if you don't need to.

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