The proliferation of credit cards and the “gotta have it now” American lifestyle have lead to a problem: for many Americans, living with debt is par for the course. In many cases, debt spirals out of control until filing for bankruptcy appears to be the only way out.
Most of our clients are regular, hard-working people who simply had a bump in the road. Whether it was the loss of a job, reduction in wages, or an accident, a single speed bump on the road of life can really send you in a different direction.
Once you start living on credit and spending more than you can afford to pay off, the debt multiplies quickly until it seems like there’s no escape.
The best advice we can give when it comes to bankruptcy is to simply avoid the situations that could lead to bankruptcy in the first place. These 6 tips can help you stay on a solid financial foundation and avoid bankruptcy:
1. Pay off your debt over time
If your debt isn’t too far beyond your control, sit down and take a look at how much you owe. If you can re-adjust your budget and stick to a plan, you might actually be able to pay down your debt on your own.
2. Sell some assets
If you’re like most Americans, you probably have lots of “stuff” that you don’t really need. Instead of hanging on, sell off the items you can live without to get some extra cash to pay off your debts. You can sell furniture, jewelry, or even electronics.
3. Ask creditors for help
The credit card companies would rather get something from you than nothing at all. Call your creditors and let them know you’re struggling to pay your bills. You might be able to lower your monthly payments or even decrease your interest rate. It’s important to stay responsible if you go this route – you’ll have to be sure to stick to your plan and pay off your debts.
4. Ask friends or family for help
It might be embarrassing to let your friends and family know about your struggle with debt, but a bit of moral support can go a long way. If your loved ones know that you’re trying to stay on the straight and narrow, they can help you avoid temptation. You won’t have to put on a show so that everyone thinks your financial situation is problem-free.
5. Live within your means
We’ve said this many times before – you simply can’t spend more than you earn. Credit cards make it far too easy to spend money you don’t have. Avoid the temptation and adjust your spending habits, and don’t buy things you don’t need.
6. Set a budget and stick to it
The single most important tip for avoiding bankruptcy is to set a budget – and stick to it. Obviously, a budget won’t matter if you’re not going to follow it. You’ve got to look at how much money you bring in, how much you spend, and what’s left over. Include your payment plan for paying off your debts.