This has been one of the hardest installments to write. Moving forward and moving on from Bankruptcy requires a few things. Going bankrupt is not a decision taken lightly, you live with the consequences for 7-10 years. It's part of your "permanent record".
Part of my journey through bankrutpcy is really facing the situations that lead me into fiscal hell. Some were in my control, some where not. I have to take ownership of the situations that were in my control. I've written and re-written this post a number of times, not liking any version. But here it goes.
I had a lot of mixed messages about money as a child. The mixed message theme continued into my 20's. Not being exceptional adept at math, I was always told that it really did not matter as things like money, budgets, etc would probably be handled by my future husband. (I'm not joking, this was a common mantra in my family to the female members, money was handled by fathers, husbands, uncles, brothers and nephews). I pretty much bought into this philosphy mainly because I did not know any better!
It was easy when I settled into a "permanent relationship" to allow my live in boyfriend to handle our joint finances. Remember, I was not "good" at math, numbers and figures. Plus he wanted to be the finance manager in our relationship and it was easier to let him do that (remember I can be such a doormat at times, this was one of those times). Despite getting a job that helped me to develop good budgeting and fiscal skills, I never made the transition in my personal life to take those skills to apply them to myself and my situation. I "kept the peace" in my relationship and allowed the boyfriend to be the money manager. I should have had the backbone by the time I was in my 20's to take better control of my own fiscal life, I did not.
After moving back to the Northeast, I made some bad fiscal decisions even with good advice and research, many of my decisions just ended up costing me thousands, literally thousands of dollars.
I became underemployed, I did not adequately plan for home repairs and maintenance, I got and used multiple credit cards, I never understood the concept of Universal Default until it was too late.
I never took advantage of my own research skills to learn about Personal finance, budgets, and money management.
I had heard about Personal Finance. I had heard the Dave Ramsey show one day driving down from Maine. I remember thinking, wow, this may be a good thing to look into. I never did. I had a Suze Orman book, read it cover to cover, but never really put her methods to work in my life. The closest I came was writing down what I owed to whom and sort of making a budget. This was when I pretty much gave up my credit cards, but never aggressively purused a debt reduction plan. I opted for the ultra slow re-payment plan.
Things I could have done better to maybe change my life.
I could have gotten a new job that at least paid what I had previously made prior to becoming underemployed, or at least matched my old benefits package (full health, retirement, better vacation benefits). I made the decision not to really pursue a better paying job until it was way too late for some of the dumbest reasons I won't even write down here. Take my word on it, they were dumb reasons.
I could have aggresively cut back on my spending, but I did not. I was able to pay my bills and play a bit. In hindsight, I should have paid more and played less. That realization hit me far too late in the game.
Instead of surfing the internet for fun, I could have surfed the internet for information and advice on Personal Finance.
I could have found a way to find a part time second job, instead, I opted for sleeping in on the weekends.
You get the picture.
By the time I started my slide into fiscal hell, I was back pedaling to save my fiscal arse. My life that was sort of going along started to fall apart for the reasons outlined in previous posts. By the time I tried to "save myself" it was way too late. Second jobs were hard to come by, I did not understand the concept of Universal Default until it caused my credit card interest rates to sky rocket (Then I learned ALL I ever wanted to know and then some). I ended up in situations that kept going bad. Yikes is all I can say.
In order for me to move forward (and for any one in my situation to move forward), I had to take a good hard look at my situation and realize that I have to take responsibility for my past actions. I had to own up to what I did to myself. I had to realize that my Bankruptcy was caused in part by my own actions and partly by circumstances out of my control.
Some people file bankruptcy due to medical reasons, some people file bankruptcy because of job loss, some people file bankruptcy because their business goes bad, some people file bankruptcy because they are a one income family and the one income dries up, the reasons for filing bankruptcy are many.
BUT in order to bounce back from bankruptcy once you have to face up and own up to the reasons that caused your bankruptcy filing. You have to take ownership of your past actions, especially the ones that were in your control. Honestly, you don't want to repeat them do you now?
It's taken me a long time to really get to and past this point. No one really likes to admit how they have failed. My failure(s) lead to me filing bankruptcy. There I said it. My failures helped to lead me to bankruptcy. Now it's time to move on.
The next installment.
You've filed the bankruptcy, the discharge is in the mail, now what?