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Advice for a Couple Thinking of Filing Bankruptcy…

There are so many tiny moments that make up my day. So many that when I realize it – I come to the irritating conclusion that most of my day is spent on auto pilot. I do not calculate the things I see, hear, and do until it is time to make a decision. It is at that moment that the sum total of all of those voices, images, and senses come together and the decision is already made.


The Couple From Shopperville:


There was no more painful reminder of this truth than earlier this week. The morning began with me counseling a couple about their out-of-control spending habits. The husband literally worked three jobs to support his wife’s shopping addiction. Interestingly enough, as I looked over their credit report I noticed that all of the credit cards maxed out were the ones she had stopped paying on. The store cards with any room at all for charge-ability were paid beautifully on time.


There are no Easy Outs!


How do you explain to someone that this is not an income issue? The husband looked at me exasperated and exhausted. He had bags under his eyes because he had been working 48 hours straight. She just wanted to file bankruptcy and start over and he had no clue of what to do. I could tell that they both knew something was deeply wrong with their situation. I sensed they felt the shakedown coming and it was going to be ugly.

I gently took them down a road that I knew would be treacherous. This is what I told them:


You are not bankrupt – What you have is a spending problem. You both make great money and there is no reason why you have no savings. 


Cancel the cards and destroy them – I am not a big fan of credit cards, but I am also not an extremist. I don’t believe that credit cards are evil. However, in this situation credit cards are toxic to their financial and marital well being.


Mindset: This is going to be painful – The bottom line is: It was fun being on the hill and you didn’t really notice that you were going down, but now you are in the valley. Getting back up the hill is going to take a lot of work. Both of you are going need to get on the same page and realize this is a team effort. 


There is hope, but only if you have a plan – You have stopped over spending, but now what? You have to be on a plan. Not just a budget. A written out game plan that will be a declaration of independence from your current madness. (I will be writing on this subject more in the coming days.)




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