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Debt Counselor’s Bankruptcy Experience Shows that Financial Hardship Can Happen to Anyone

An article published earlier this year in The Week tells the story of a professional debt counselor who filed for bankruptcy. His account is notable, as he candidly admits, in part because it seems odd for someone who makes a living advising other people about their debt to find himself unable to pay his own debts. The moral of the story, to the extent that any real-life story has a “moral,” is that financial difficulties can happen to anyone. It is not always the result of some major crisis and, despite some lingering negative perceptions in our culture, it is not necessarily brought on by laziness or irresponsibility. Someone might do everything exactly right, but things still don’t always work out. This person’s story offers a glimpse of how filing for bankruptcy is not a cause for shame or an admission of failure, but a useful tool that allows people to get a fresh start.

According to Dave Landry’s piece in The Week, he and his wife married just after graduating college, when they had $40,000 in student loan debt between them. He admits that they lived beyond their means for a few years, accumulating $20,000 in credit card debt on top of the student loans. The birth of their first child caused them to cease their “jet-setting ways,” but they needed a bigger place to live. After the birth of their second child, they upgraded to a larger house, one that Landry admits was bigger than they absolutely needed. This occurred around the time of the recession of 2008, resulting in a $100,000 loss on the sale of their first house.

With the benefit of hindsight, it might seem easy to look at this story and identify mistakes. Life never works like that in real time, though, and much like doctors who neglect their own health, a debt counselor can overlook important issues. People grow accustomed to a certain lifestyle and may not recognize changing circumstances until they have already gone deeper into debt. “A certain lifestyle” does not even have to mean extravagance. It might simply mean taking vacations every year, or eating out several times a week, or any other activities or expenses that push the boundaries of their income.

The circumstances of Landry’s story are common throughout the country. His debts were similar to those of millions of other Americans. He had a mortgage and credit card bills, but rather than trying to pay them down as quickly as possible, he often made the minimum payments. The student loans lingered in the background, receiving regular payments but never going away.

Landry also places some blame on “hubris.” “Sheer ego,” he writes, kept him from treating himself as one of his own clients. He finally took an honest look at his finances after several years of struggling, and he and his wife filed for bankruptcy in 2011.

The bankruptcy system can offer relief to people whose debt payments are greater than their available income. Bankruptcy attorney Devin Sawdayi has helped people in the Los Angeles area through Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies for over 16 years. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced advocate, please contact us today online or at (310) 475-939.

More Blog Posts:

Proposed Legislation Could Reduce Student Loan Interest Rates; Still Doesn’t Address Discharge in Bankruptcy or Cost of Education, Los Angeles Bankruptcy Lawyer Blawg, August 15, 2014

Discharging Tax Debts in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Los Angeles Bankruptcy Lawyer Blawg, August 4, 2014

Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Considers “Good Faith” Requirement for Discharge of Student Loans, Los Angeles Bankruptcy Lawyer Blawg, April 9, 2014


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