May I suggest a New Year’s resolution to look at your financial situation, including your preparation for retirement, with detachment and consider whether a fresh financial start makes sense?
A university study done about 10 years ago found that one in 7 American families would be better off if they filed bankruptcy. The point was that Americans were not heedlessly filing bankruptcy to avoid repaying debt. At the time, about one in 17 families actually filed. My experiences in the past decade suggest that the finding remains true in 2008.
A life of minimum payments, minuscule bank accounts, and no retirement savings is a life fraught with financial danger. My clients all too often try to pretend that all is well if they can make the minimum payments on credit cards and juggle no-interest offers to move money from card to card. The debt remains and savings are postponed.
I did a little exercise that contrasted paying off a modest credit card debt by making minimum payments with devoting the same about of money to retirement savings. The results are mind boggling. However much money you have during your working life, you are likely to have less at retirement. Take a look at your statement from Social Security and calculate how you are going to live on that amount.
Clients walk into my office hoping that there is a magic wand, The Alternative to Bankruptcy, that I can wave and allow them to solve the debt problem without bankruptcy. For most, there is no such secret, unknown cure to debt.
It may be time to swallow your pride, file bankruptcy, and devote the energy now spent on managing debt to saving for the future and enjoying the present.