The typical American family incurs a predictable host of bills each month. From that mortgage payment for a home that is most likely very important to you, to the car payment that hopefully ensures comfort, reliability, and safety on the road every day, to the absolutes like water, power, food, and clothing, most of us have a concrete idea of where our money has to go. But when the monthly numbers start to come up in a deficit, that’s not only when we start to get a little worried, but we must take the time to examine everything more closely.
There are numerous causes for bankruptcy, obviously, but generally those in grave debt will point to one or two major issues that caused a downward spiral in finances. Illness and hospital bills are always at the top of the list. If you or someone in your family has had the unfortunate experience of becoming seriously ill and then dealing with the avalanche of medical bills that just continue to pile up, you probably understand exactly how easy it is to begin wondering about whether bankruptcy may be the only option, and especially as other issues such as loss of pay and overall unemployment begin to loom as well. And while those are of course the major causes leading to bankruptcy, many other big bills such as crushing student loan debt can factor in as the primary factors, or just in exacerbating the situation.
There is another obvious factor that leads to bankruptcy time and time again though, and it’s really the most simple one: overspending. Financial planning should, of course, be a matter of habit with every paycheck that comes in; however, with the busy lives many of us lead, finances often get difficult to manage, and stress can cause overspending that often isn’t realized until it’s too late. If you are providing for a family and maybe one or more children, you are probably also aware of the list of expenses that often feel like a runaway locomotive featuring your debit card. The essentials are one thing, but kids may have different whimsical wants every day too, no matter the age. All of these wants generally involve money, and most of which may be expected to come from one source: you. From the new coat and new shoes that are much cooler (and far more expensive) than the sensible ones you just bought, to the infinite requests for material items that everybody else has, you may feel that you are constantly under the gun to raid the budget and make everyone happy.
There may be requests coming from others too who are under even more financial duress than you are. This is where practicing one word will be of great benefit: no. Quite simply, no. Control needs to be restored to the budget, and financial planning needs to become a priority. You may even want to get the whole family in on the process.
Whether things seem to be going south in the family finances or not, you may find it’s very fulfilling and educational for all involved to sit down and have a weekly budget meeting for the whole family as well. This can be eye-opening for everyone, and opens the conversation not only about where money needs to be saved but also, for both younger and older children, gives a glimpse into the responsibilities of life and allows them to understand their parents further too.
According to Entrepreneur, 20 percent of parents never discuss budgeting with their children at all. This is an important life skill to teach the younger ones, and it makes a lot more sense when they understand what is going on and then see that put into action; for instance, explain to the kids that if you save on going out for ice cream on the weekends for a while, that money could translate into something much nicer down the line—such as a new bike or even a family trip. Financial planning is all about the priorities, and it becomes crucial if you see that too much is going out each month without enough coming in.
Other life issues too, such as divorce, may be the cause of severe financial duress. And while that can be a ‘which came first—the chicken or the egg’ question in whether finances causes the strain on the relationship or whether the divorce itself did, many know firsthand how devastating it can be to both the family and the finances.
If you are getting down to the nitty-gritty in your checkbook each month, savings is nearly gone, bills are piling up, and creditors are ringing your phone off the hook, you may be thinking bankruptcy is going to be your only solution. This is the time to consult with an experienced lawyer at Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC. In speaking with us, you can discuss strategies for your finances, whether bankruptcy is the best move for you, as well as other alternatives. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing clients going through very similar circumstances, and we are here to help!