“This is the last place I ever expected to be,” says the client sitting across from me – I hear it almost every day. Another common remark is, “I am not the type of person who doesn’t pay their debts.”
I think comments like these are the result of the myth that only irresponsible people file bankruptcy. Such thinking couldn’t be further from the truth.
Leslie Linfield, head of the Institute for Financial Literacy, says that the typical bankruptcy filer is:
- A white, married couple in their mid to late 40s, college educated, and both working.
Probably not what you expected, right?
I’ve learned that financial crisis can happen to anyone. I’ve had clients from all walks of life and every profession – from construction workers to CEOs of once booming companies, from retail workers to medical doctors.
Most of my clients are just like you and me – well-meaning, hard-working, and principled. But, an unexpected reduction in income, divorce, or medical problem has put them into financial distress.
In the past week, my new bankruptcy clients have included:
- A successful business owner whose divorce has tapped out all his disposable income,
- A retired couple who had to move across the country twice to help children with medical problems,
- A mid-30s couple who went from a two-income household to a one-income household and can no longer afford to keep making credit card payments that were once manageable, and
- A young business professional who has lost two jobs in the last year due to company downsizing.
So, what kind of person files bankruptcy? All kinds, as you can see. All kinds of people who are smart enough to recognize that bankruptcy can offer a way out of an overwhelming debt situation and an opportunity to build a better financial future.