There are a number of signs that you should be reviewing your financial situation and considering bankruptcy. They include the following:
- Your wages or bank accounts are being garnished.
- Your hard-earned labor is being taken away from you by force. (If this is happening, you need to take immediate action.)
- You are receiving notices from the IRS or the State Department of Revenue about unpaid taxes. (These will almost certainly be followed with action.)
- You are being sued. (Legal action is not something to ignore or to do yourself. See your attorney and find out what the likely consequences will be from this lawsuit. Lawsuits for collection of debts will ultimately lead to garnishment or other forced collection activities.)
- You are bouncing checks and incurring overdraft fees. (Non-sufficient funds [NSF] checks can lead to criminal prosecution or double damages for the creditor. Overdraft fees are an expense to be avoided.)
- You are using one credit card to make payments on the others. (This usually is a downward spiral with a crash at the bottom.)
- You have taken out a debt consolidation loan, or a payday loan, or an auto title loan, or you are considering doing so. (All of these are drastic remedy type loans which are rarely taken out by anyone not under financial stress.)
- Your credit cards have reached their maximum limits.
- You are making minimum payments or less on your various credit card accounts.
- You are using credit cards to pay for essentials, such as food, rent, or transportation. (Using credit cards for these purposes is fine if you are doing so for the convenience or for the credit card perks. When you are doing because you have to, there is a problem.)
- You are borrowing money from relatives to pay debts. (With a solid plan in place this can be a good idea. But more often than not you are simply dragging your loved ones into a mess they do not deserve and should be cleaned up.)
- Debt collectors are calling or writing you. (Besides the annoyance, inconvenience and harassment, these communications are a signal that it is time to take action.)
As with various signals about our health, early action and preventive care is often less drastic, less expensive, and more effective than waiting until you have no choice. We are often able to do much more for our clients, and at less cost, when we have an opportunity to evaluate the situation early.
If you have any of the symptoms described above, it is time to take a careful look at your situation. If you do not have a plan for resolving the problems, get help to formulate such a plan.