10 THINGS I LEARNED FROM MY RECENT BANKRUPTCY
To read even more about my bankruptcy here's the full scoop http://www.postmortemmag.com/issue-two-work/2015/5/31/should-have-seen-it-coming
- •There are several different kinds of bankruptciesThe most common one, called Chapter 7, is for people like me who are actually broke. The others are mostly for rich people who are hiding their assets and just want to “reorganize” their corporate structure (which is a fancy synonym for “stealing”). There’s actually one for farmers too, which is strange because I thought they were all getting huge government subsidies to operate on all that GMO corn I keep hearing about. Wow. That’s kind of depressing.
- •It costs a lot of money to go brokeThis one sounds like a joke, and that’s what I was going for, but it’s true!$1800. That is the sum of money I had to bring in cash to my lawyer’s office before they would sit down and talk to me. I’ve been told you can pay a lot more than that, but I’m not going to pay a lot for this muffler, and neither should you. I had to stop paying my health insurance and credit cards for 3 months to come up with that kind of money. Hopefully you won’t need to sell a kidney in order to let go of your debt
- •Or you can pay nothing!Okay, you can file bankruptcy without a lawyer. However, everything I read about declaring on the Internet suggested to go above and beyond to avoid doing so, and everything on the Internet is true. There are also lawyers that work pro bono on bankruptcy cases, but so many people are seeking help from these charity organizations that the process takes months. I figured by the time I was done waiting to file, law enforcement would be seeking to arrest me every time I swiped my card at McDonald’
- •They're all going to laugh at youPeople will laugh, they’ll tell you that you screwed up, and then they’ll remind you that you owe them 100 bucks on a bet from last year’s Superbowl. Don’t listen to those people! You know what you’re doing! After all, it’s not like you got yourself into a debt situation that took years to accumulate in a gradual slide, so you didn’t realize what was happening and wanted to bury your head in the sand like an ostrich instead of taking a hard look at how much money you owed. Right? Oh yeah. Oops
- •You can't declare bankruptcy for student loan debtTo the approximately 75% of you that are swimming in college loan debt and will be for the foreseeable future: you are officially screwed. Almost every other kind of debt can be liquidated and thrown down the memory hole. Not with student loan debt, which, almost everyone age 18-30 has plenty of. You may think that’s unfair, and now you’re asking yourself how Brown University possibly expected you to pay off $185,632 in loans with a degree in humanities. Find out what Brown can do for you.
- •You can start overAfter a long and painful series of unfortunate events, it’s weird not owing the credit card companies anymore. I can only describe it as having a large weight gradually lifted off your shoulders. Even now, a few weeks after filing and several months since meeting my lawyer, it still hasn’t hit me how real the whole thing is yet. It’s like waking up to a brand new day or going to an undiscovered country. There are so many possibilities out there that didn’t exist before.
- •Bankruptcy court isnt a regular courtYou know that intimidating courtroom that you went to from the time you passed a school bus with its stop sign out and the sheriff was yelling at you thatyou could have killed kids? That isn’t the court you go to when you’re filing bankruptcy. It’s a small, informal room filled with nervous people like yourself and a bunch of lawyers dressed like they’re going to watch their kids play T-ball. When the judge arrives, he will will ask you a few questions. Say "yes" to everything and you'll be okay
- •You mean i'm not done yet?Assuming you answered everything correctly in court and your lawyer filed all your paperwork correctly, your bankruptcy proceedings should be going smoothly – except for one super long online test. It's called a debtor education course, and you have to be logged on for at least 3 hours on a debtor education course website of your choosing in order to successfully complete the course. If you do not manage to complete the course in the generously allotted time then your case will be thrown out
- •You'll be able to rebuild or redestroy your credit within a yearAccording to my highly paid lawyer (and I should know, I paid him), credit card companies will start offering you credit cards with exorbitant rates again within a year or so, and you would do well to sign up for them in order to more effectively rebuild your credit. Alternatively, you can max out your shiny new Best Buy store card with 27% interest and a $300 spending limit on useless home stereo equipment and choose to never pay it back. What’s the worst that could happen?
- •Credit cards aren't as important as you think they areLast year, after I had maxed out my regular credit cards on a business trip to Las Vegas, I was able to use my bank’s debit card on hotel stay, car rental, and after I was fired, a flight back. So, as far as I can tell, your Visa card really is “Everywhere you Want to Be” and it doesn’t matter one bit to anyone that it’s not a real credit card. Yeah, you probably won’t be able to buy a brand new car for several years, but with all the money you’re saving you can just buy it in cash!