Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book The Scarlet Letter states in Chapter 2, “On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A.” The letter A stood for the word adulterer and represented one of the worst insults in society. One would have thought that today we are a lot more civilized than 200 years ago, but unfortunately it is not true. Society has abolished the letter A alright, but it has latched onto a new one, the letter B, which stands for bankruptcy. People do not see it on their chest and think it does not affect them, but it does. Bankruptcy is as insulting and as damaging to one’s financial, emotional, mental, and even physical well- being as any major failure or stigma.
Although lawyers may tell their clients the stigma lasts 7-10 years, the truth is the stigma lasts forever. Ask those that have been through the process and most will tell you how rough and hard it is to get a good job, buy a new car or a home, get a promotion at work, or even lease an apartment. In certain industries, bankruptcy also means instant termination from work. The pains and agonies of bankruptcy will not just end there. Financially the person is haunted with higher interest rates, higher down payments, and outright rejections for many years to come. Emotionally and mentally the person has to endure constant refusals that affect morale, self-esteem, and self-respect. Eventually, the stress could potentially affect the person’s health. Mental stress incapacitates numerous people each and every year and the numbers are staggering.
How does one avoid questions on applications such as this one: “Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?” Please note, it does not say, “Have you filed for bankruptcy in the last seven years?” The way to avoid such applications is usually by walking away from them. In other words, by allowing doors to be closed in one’s face. The bottom line is, bankruptcy has a very real downside that is likely much worse than any postive short-term results. Many consumers are unaware of these potential pitfalls associated with bankruptcy, as countless attorneys often paint a rosy picture.
My Advice through person experience: Avoid bankruptcy, at all cost, and only as the absolute last possible resort. Weigh your decision carefully. I recognize there are certain circumstances where bankruptcy is truly the best option and there may be times where it’s the only option. One should not use bankruptcy as an option simply because it is “easy” or seems to be a quick solution.
Phil Andrews is currently the VP of Business Development for Precept Financial Solutions, a leading debt settlement firm based in Dallas, Texas. For more information, go to http://www.PreceptFinancial.com or call toll free 800-584-0855 and press option 2.