My finances were a mess. Having been married to a person who was my financial equal compounded the situation.
And then, spending 3 years in long term mental health, follow by one and a half years in a halfway house, just took things from horrible to ridiculous.
Try not filing taxes for four years and see what happens. Then when you re-emerge to the real world, and try to explain to the IRS what happened, just see how far you get. In my case, I was looking at over $20,000 owed, including insane penalties and interest that kept on growing.
But obviously, there was more than the IRS. It was so wildly out of control. So with a great deal of reluctance, I filed for chapter 13 bankruptcy.
It cost a lot to do it, and I kept reevaluating whether I was doing the right thing. My first lawyer was terrible and treated me like a dirtball, because he obviously thought all bankruptcy filers were dirt balls. I demanded a new lawyer. After that, I had to dig up a lot of records, and do a lot of paperwork. I was assigned to a paralegal who was nothing short of wonderful. She guided me through every step of the process.
I had to go to court twice and appear before a judge, but that really wasn’t unpleasant. No one was really very judgmental. There were dozens of people there for the same reasons as me.
My lawyer and paralegal worked out the proposed repayment arrangement, and it was very affordable. I had to await the judges approval, so I was a bit nervous about that. But the judge did approve.
So as a result I got no more nasty phone calls or letters from bill collectors. I have a repayment plan that is easily affordable. Somehow all of my past bills have been paid or will be paid- not really sure how they worked that out.
So the result is, I can pay my mortgage and my bills, I can easily go out for breakfast or dinner with friends, if I want to buy something for a few hundred bucks I can do it, and if I want to get away for a few days and visit someone, I can do that. I can send money to my estranged institutionalized wife, and can drop a few bucks on my son.
So if you are in a serious financial pinch like I was, and you are considering bankruptcy, as terrible as it sounds, it definitely works. But let there be no question about this, there is a stigma attached to filing bankruptcy. For example, without exception, politicians who run for office and have filed for bankruptcy are brutally castigated. And for us who are not politicians, filing is the equivalent of being stamped with a scarlet letter. It is anything but well accepted in society.
But despite that, life is so much easier.
The only bad thing? I can’t have any kind of credit card, no matter how small, for five years. So building my credit back up is a serious challenge. So as a result, I work very hard to sock money away in case I need a new furnace, a new car, or some other pricey necessity.
There are millions of people with serious credit issues in this country. Let them talk to me, I think I can steer them in the right direction.