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Rise from financial setbacks through Chapter 7 bankruptcy

No Wisconsin resident sets out to create a personal credit mess, but sometimes financial challenges arise from too much credit card use, unexpected medical bills or other unanticipated expenses. When a person finds themselves under a mountain of debt, they should understand that they can bounce back and enjoy a fresh start.

The story of a 43-year-old New York woman is a good example. She quit her job in 2000 to work as a freelance songwriter. After 9/11 though, her work dried up. She began using her credit cards to pay all her personal expenses, including groceries and utilities. After 5 years, she was $80,000 in debt and realized that her salary in her new job as a secretary and paralegal would never be enough to allow her to pay those debts off. She decided to bite the bullet, declare personal bankruptcy and work to rebuild her life free of debt. Fortunately, with this smart move and some self-imposed discipline, she was able to bounce back.

Stories of people struggling to repay debts that are actually too big to pay off are increasingly common. Job losses, home foreclosures and mounting credit card debts have become especially common during the Great Recession. But bankruptcy has allowed many people to redeem their financial lives and start over.

Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy can result in the discharge of most unsecured debts. The debt that can be written off includes medical and hospital bills, loans, and credit cards. The debtor's assets go through a liquidation process in which some but not all tangible assets are sold and the proceeds are applied to the debts. Depending on the circumstances and the state in which bankruptcy is filed, the process of eliminating those debts can be done in three to six months.

Source: Forbes, "Financial Comebacks: How I Bounced Back From a Money Disaster," Marisa Torrieri, Dec. 5, 2013

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