Recently I was asked to give advice about how single women can protect themselves from financial downturns and unexpected problems. These problems might arise from an illness or injury, from a loss of a job or income, from being sued and having a judgment placed, or even from having an auto accident without sufficient insurance. The measures to be taken will vary with the circumstances, of course, but there are some underlying principles.

First, if you have debt already, we should deal with that first. How that debt is dealt with will depend upon the type and amount of the debt. It also varies depending upon the age, health and income, both now and in the future, of the single woman.

If the unsecured debt can be paid fairly quickly, say in a year or two, installment payments might be the best approach. It is often possible to negotiate discounts, particularly of interest rates.

High interest rate unsecured debt can be paid with zero percent interest over three years under a Wisconsin Chapter 128 wage amortization. You can pick and choose what creditors to use this procedure for, and that can be very helpful.

If the unsecured debt cannot be paid in three years, it is time to consider other options, including the various forms of bankruptcy which may be available. You can still pay your creditors in full, if you wish, but you may be able to pay them much less, and perhaps not at all. Eliminating debt and the corresponding payments allows you to begin saving for other needs, whether a replacement vehicle, a child’s education, or retirement. All of these things can provide financial stability for a single woman.

Secured debts are somewhat more complex. The analysis hinges upon the type and value of the collateral, and whether or not you want to retain that asset. It is often possible to force creditors to reduce interest rates and extend loan terms, which in turn lowers monthly payments.

Single women without substantial debt problems can safeguard against future problems arising by making sure that their assets, or at least a substantial portion of those assets, are held in a form which cannot be taken by creditors.

Single women, and single men for that matter, do not have another income to fall back upon in the event of a calamity. This makes it all the more important to have assets which cannot be attached by creditors.