Nov 26, 2013 07:14PM
By Jo Anne Shumard, J.D.
You may be one of many who have suffered divorce, death a job loss, a medical crisis, or some other catastrophe that put you in severe debt. Whatever the reason for your financial problems, the following quiz will help determine whether you are in a financial crisis and may benefit from financial CPR.
1. Are you unable to pay your monthly living expenses while paying down your debt?
2. Is your debt situation causing stress and strain on your personal relationships?
3. Are you afraid to answer your phone or open your mail?
4. Have you borrowed money or are you thinking about borrowing from your retirement account to pay debts? If you don’t have a retirement account, is it because all your money is going to pay debt?
5. Does your debt situation cause feelings of hopeless and despair?
6. Unable to sleep at night worried about your financial situation?
The good news is that identifying the warning signs is the first step. When you know the warning signs of serious illness, just like the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke, you can do something about it. You may have a magnet on your refrigerator that has the warning signs for a heart attack and stroke. It tells you to call 911 if you have any of the symptoms.
Similarly these are the critical warning signs of financial illness. If you answered 'yes' to one or more of the top six, you may be in financial crisis. Your 911 call should be to a bankruptcy specialist in your area. This does not mean you have to file bankruptcy any more than dialing 911 means you are having a heart attack or stroke. However, a professional needs to fully evaluate your situation and make a recommendation for you. Information can certainly be potent medicine.
The advantages of arming yourself with information far outweigh ignoring the symptoms. You may be able to become completely free of debt and the stress that comes with it. Imagine increasing your net worth overnight—by the same amount of debt you discharge. You may be able to escape bad real estate investments and unwise vehicle purchases. In some circumstances, you may even be able to discharge taxes you owe the IRS.
Congress created the Bankruptcy Code to provide a fresh start to the honest but unfortunate debtor. What better time for those facing tough circumstances to get the fresh start Congress intended?
Jo Anne Shumard is an author, consumer advocate and bankruptcy attorney who has served many years with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida as both Legal Advisor and Judicial Law Clerk. In her book, Is your Wallet Killing You? Financial CPR, she provides a guide through Financial CPR to a fresh start. Shumard is currently available by appointment in Satellite Beach. For more information call 407-927-0767 or email [email protected]