Talk about your Motley fools...Not that long ago, I was a "successful" female screenwriter in Hollywood, averaging over $300K a year, no small feat. I've had some big movies made, the studios have made over $300 million off of me, I've had a beach house, lots of "friends", flew MGM Grand,(paid for by the studios) and the whole lot. At one point I had a choice, buy a house and the whole Hollywood deal, or be the artist and take my money and direct a film my way....I made the film. Artistically successful, the film won a lot of awards, including a big European festival, but made no money. The writing offers were still there, but I was sure that I could make the directing thing work. Here's where I started to get into trouble. I decided to stop taking all the high paying jobs, but I didn't change my lifestyle immediately, because I always thought I could take a job when I wanted/needed. I had always been able to during the 12 years before, why should anythning be different now. It always looked like the directing gig was right around the corner, so I never wanted to take another job, and make myself unavailable to direct. After a while, the money from the jobs I had taken, had run out and I started hitting the credit card checks. They were very available... and again, I thought I could always taking a writing job to pay it all back.Meanwhile, the debt began to rise, I downsized the beach house to an apartment in town, the directing was just out of reach, and now I couldn't get a job. I had been out of the writing scene for over two years, and everyone wanted someone hot. I am still trying to get a job, but it hasn't happened yet. Now, I have almost $120,000 in debt on the cards, and what little money I have been making this past year, has basically been going to pay off the debt. I pay over $4000 a month in interest payments, and am living very frugally now. I have a small car payment, low rent, and very few other expenses.I have spoken to a Credit Consolidation Group, but after assessing my debt situation, they were only able to shave off around $240 a month in payments, and my credit would have been destroyed or rendered useless. So, again, believing that I could still get a gig to pay off the cards, I have avoided a more aggressive plan of attack. Now, having just paid that pile of bills once again, I am thinking this is insane. I made $100k this year, enough to live, but having paid probably $50,000 of it in interest, I still haven't made a dent in the debt. I've cut out the dinners, the traveling, the clothes... All I have left is my home office, my computer and my two dogs. I am at the point of seriously considering bankruptcy and was hoping somebody would have some advice on the pros and cons. My only debt is from the credit cards, I have a few pieces of art, and no other real property. I feel like if I could make a fresh start everything would be okay. I wouldn't do it again, as my lifestlye has been adjusted to my new reality. But every month I am being haunted by the old one, and I don't know what to do.Any words of advice from you financial wizards would certainly help this artist, which clearly has a high learning curve when it comes to managing her money.Jenno T.
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