On Hold: Life After Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is like emergency surgery— nobody volunteers to have it, but everyone would prefer it to nothing. Both are designed to keep those dangerously unhealthy “alive”, allowing them to live with at least some assets. And without the proper anesthesia, it can be extremely painful.

So what is this metaphorical painkiller? The sad truth is that there is no one strategy for an easy bankruptcy. Part of it is attitude, and part is what type of bankruptcy you declare:

Chapter 7: This is the most common form, in which assets are sold off in order to pay debts, while certain debts are eliminated. Many debts cannot be discharged, including: taxes, child support, student loans, criminal fees, and foreclosures.

Chapter 11: Common for large companies, Chapter 11 ensures that no assets can be seized, but creates a plan for paying back debts from the debtor’s future income.

Chapter 13: A more powerful form of personal bankruptcy than Chapter 7, Chapter 13 creates a repayment plan from income without any seizure of assets. Many more debts can be discharged, including foreclosures. Only those with certain income levels are eligible.

Despite these differences, there are certain experiences common to any declaration of bankruptcy:

Reduction of credit rating. No matter how much you plan to change your lifestyle in the future, bankruptcy is the mark of Cain when it comes to fiscal irresponsibility. Your credit score will take a hit for the next decade.

A world with less credit. It will be harder to get loans, and their interest rates will be through the roof if they’re available. That new car will have to wait.

Major lifestyle changes. Here’s a little common sense: it will be impossible to have the lifestyle you had before your bankruptcy, since that’s what got you into the situation in the first place. This isn’t the time for nipping and tucking— think home downsizing and no vacations.

All of this means you need to:

Save your money. This is the ultimate survival tip, as savings can offset the need for loans, help you through rough patches, and provide you with a fresh start when bankruptcy protection ends.

Alexander Carl

Alexander Carl

I find it difficult to brag about myself. Too modest? Perhaps.

Anyway: my name is Alexander Carl. I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I spent four blissful years earning a degree in Communication Studies. Now I face the real world of economic downturns, student loans, and the absence of “academic” camaraderie.

Yet I refuse to be bummed. My economic philosophy is to live simply, save, and maximize whatever I can. Consumer culture is undeniably pervasive, but you don’t have to sell your soul to co-exist with it— there is great power from using your economic resources wisely.

I started writing when I figured out how to hold a pencil. Since then I’ve written short stories, poetry, screenplays, and have blogged. In fact, three of my screenplays have been produced into short films, two of which I directed. I’m no stranger to the media, having served as a DJ at a freeform radio station and worked as a crew member for live TV.

Pastimes include traveling (I’ll visit virtually anywhere), swimming, jogging, hiking, and hunkering down with a good movie.

Overall I’m a peaceful person, though not in a creepy New Agey way. I get my energy from music, good conversation, and the outdoors (I was an active Boy Scout, earning my Eagle). I consider myself “inquisitive” and “wry”, and for the sake of autobiography I’ll assume that I am.
Alexander Carl

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