Some of you may be aware that I co-host the Money America radio show on WAIC which airs Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. Typically, the show revolves around a central team each week — a topic the community would be best served by learning . During yesterday’s taping, my co-host, Lavalle Smith, brought up a story that commanded the conversation for a while and I would like to share it with you.
Recently, Lavalle was counseling an individual who became largely indebted due to a battle with cancer. Throughout the course of treatment, their medical bills grew in excess of $300,000. Now healthy, they were concerned about the crushing weight of this financial burden. As is customary, Lavalle completed a full financial analysis which included a review of the individual’s debt, as well as their expenses. Not surprisingly, bankruptcy was determined to be the logical choice. Initially, the individual was apprehensive at such a course of action due to the social stigma associated with filing bankruptcy. LaValle attempted to find other suitable options; however, because of the individual’s financial circumstances this was the only recommendation that made sense.
This got me thinking about how, over the years, my colleagues and I have received the same reaction. People become concerned when you mention bankruptcy; however, it is a viable option for dealing with large levels of debt when you do not command the income to manage such an obligation. It’s among many options that people should consider when they’re feeling overwhelmed by debt. In this particular instance, someone fought so hard to hold onto their life only to have extreme pressures placed upon them for doing so.
While the option of bankruptcy was not ideal, nether is surviving such an event only to become devastated by the gargantuan task of repaying hundreds of thousands of dollars that you cannot afford. For many of the purchases we make, we can conduct cost comparisons and fight off the urge for immediate gratification; however, when faced with cancer and the possibility of death, there’s no time to bargain shop. The debt that was amassed in this situation was created out of necessity. I doubt many of us would sit down to make a budget to determine how we’re going to afford treatment. The more immediate issue of survival dictates the thought process.
Many of the reasons people are forced into bankrupt are because of circumstances beyond their control. One could experience a job loss, reduction in income or a medical emergency, as in this case. We have to remember that each financial situation can be dealt with through an appropriate course of action. In some circumstances we can reevaluate our budget to increase our disposable income. In other cases we can utilize debt settlement; however, I would urge someone to work out agreements independently with creditors as opposed to using a debt management service. Debt management is another option that can offer relief. And yes, bankruptcy can help – it was designed to offer individuals a fresh start.
Thankfully, several days ago Lavalle received a phone call from the individual who informed him they had consulted with a bankruptcy attorney. They expressed a profound relief that, by filing, they would truly regain control of their destiny. Not only do they have a fresh start at life, but they will be working toward a fresh start at their finances. Cancer-free, debt-free and a future of boundless opportunities. How’s that for a happy ending?
For more information, or to speak with a certified credit counselor please contact Cambridge Credit Counseling at 800-897-2200 or www.cambridgecredit.org.