I filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy a few months ago. I have been documenting the experience to share with the people who will find themselves in need of this information in the next few years. It's not a topic for casual conversation for most people, and the web is rife with e-books, courses, services and other junk.
I'm not an attorney, and I won't offer any advice, and don't intend this narrative to persuade you to take any particular action or opinion. This is just my experience, and of course my own particular perspective will shade it.
The story begins in 2005, when a business failure coincided with family illness and other non-financial problems. We struggled to cover our bills by selling personal possessions – furniture, TVs, a timeshare, tools, sporting goods and more. Finally, in early 2006, my husband found a job. By then we were more than 6 months behind on our credit card account payments, and struggling to get the mortgage and car payments paid no more than a month late. Relatives were giving us food, and I had become depressed to the point of thinking and talking about suicide.
The financial situation was complicated and worsened by my depression. I felt unworthy; incapable of making a decision, frustrated by my inability to find work while at the same time conflicted about actually having to give up self-employment and find a job again. And this, my friends, was the problem. Without some element of faith that I could feel better, I was hopeless and self-defeating. Until I found the means to believe in myself again, I was unable to move away from failure.
Happily, I did find a way out of my depression, and the answer was within myself. If you are feeling like I was, there is an answer, inside you, and your mission will be to find the way to connect with it. This article is not intended to help you find that answer. The path is different for everybody, and it may lie in religion, renewing physical activity, meditation, intellectual pursuits, or a combination of some of these, or something else entirely. You'll know it when you find it, and if you listen, it's probably already calling to you.
Exploring Credit Counseling / Credit Management Options
Two weeks prior to my husband's return to work, I started believing that we'd find a solution to our situation. Up to this point I had been screening caller IDs, allowing the answering machine to take all calls from bill collectors. I began talking to some of the bill collectors to see if there was any way I could negotiate my way out of this situation, but it was really serious. I was beginning to get court notices that we were being sued by some of the credit card companies. Just when we had a paycheck to rely on, we faced the possibility of garnishments!
So, I wrote down the toll-free numbers of various credit help organizations I …