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This post is super long, contains my bankruptcy story and some questions for GregFisher.

I make it a hobby to make them pay-- you may only want an accurate report

If you don't mind my asking Mr. Fisher, just what is your authority on any of these matters? I've been reading your posts most of this evening. You have offered nothing of yourself in any of them. Your profile is completely blank.

Your first post had most of these same links. You've been posting them as often as you can get away with.

You offer bankruptcy as a solution, which it can be, but you also treat it like a walk in the park. Have you ever been through bankruptcy? And if so, I will not presume or assume that you have, did it not affect you or your family in any manner?

Having been through bankruptcy, I can personally tell you that some of those old wife tales are true. You feel like you have failed. Ours was a classic case as to when you should file and what the system was designed for. We had excellent paying jobs, money saved in the bank, and then all hell broke loose. We both got laid off within 2 weeks of each other. Found out I was pregnant. Moved back to be near my family and life did not get any better. We went through our savings in a very short period, did not qualify for any state assistance except for a spend down on the medical bills for the baby. Maxed out the credit cards just trying to survive. Had nothing to do with buying extra goodies we didn't need. Had to do with getting food to eat.

Once Melissa was born within 6 weeks my husband was terribly ill. We went to the emergency clinic. They thought it was his appendix, emergency surgury, be out in an hour. 4 hours later they finally come out and tell me he had ruptured his colon and would be in the hospital at least 7 days depending on his recovery. He was there 11 days, 2 of them in intensive care. No insurance and again, we did not qualify for assistance. I was working a part time job, taking care of the baby and trying to keep the roof above our heads. It was a struggle.

He recovered, he landed a decent job and we had over $36,000 in bills from the hospital and credit cards and the car we had bought the previous year when we were still working well paying jobs. I made arrangement with the car people to skip one payment and attach it to the end of the contract. 3 months later I asked again for a 6 month extension, couldn't afford the insurance and the car payment. They said no, I asked where to turn the car in. That was the beginning of the end. I made up income and payment schedules for all the creditors with the notation that once Terry (mine, not the one on this board) was through his training period he would be receiving a raise and the payments would increase accordingly. Also he would be getting bonuses (unknown amount) and those would be applied to the bills. Everyone agreed but the hospital. So since it was a charity hospital, I applied for debt reduction. No go. We were over the proverty level by $100 per month. I tried everything to get them to accept the payments. They said no. We went to Consumer Credit Counseling, they took one look at our debt and our income and said, "File Bankruptcy" We still wanted to try to pay off the debt. We made regular payments to all the creditors for 4 months before the hospital's collection agency filed for a settlement against us. We knew at that point we were defeated. If they garnished Terry's check, he could lose his job and even if he didn't there wouldn't be enough to pay off the other creditors.

I got the papers myself, some books from the library and filled them out. IT was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. I bawled for hours (am still getting weepy now, almost 7 years later). I read all the books very carefully, made sure I claimed everything back so we wouldn't lose it during the hearing. We had some savings bonds that were given to us when we got married, we cashed them in and bought new ones and put them in our daughter's name. I traded in my paid off Nissan Pickup for 2 older cars so they wouldn't be over the limit allowed and we would still have transportation.

I sent letters to all the creditors telling them what was happening with a copy of the bankruptcy papers. I had already sent them letters not forbidding them to call us at home or work. I heard back from one of them. Sears, they wanted us to pay for the T.V. we had charged 3 years earlier. It was a $400 dollar television which up to that point we had been paying on. They tried to tell me I still owed $300 on it. I told them to come get it. They said I had to take it back. Their nearest store was over 200 miles away, I told them if I had the gas money to drive there, I would certainly make payments on it. I then told them that if they wanted the money or television they would have to come to the debtor's hearing and make their claim then.

Now here's the kicker. We went to our debtor's hearing. There were 10 of there there. Five of them had lawyers with them. We were 2nd to last to be heard. Of the 5 with lawyers, 3 of them had to file admendments because the lawyer forgot to put something in the original filing. Of the other 3 that went before us, one of them forgot to file her personal property (clothes, rings, household items, furniture, etc.) and when it finally dawned on her what the lawyer who was arbitrating was saying, that he could walk into her home and take everything and sell it off to pay her debtors, she was terrified. He gave her 2 weeks to file an admendment.

When it was our turn, we gave him the papers he had requested (car titles, tax returns) and he asked who helped with the papers. I told him the Library. He then asked if there were any creditors who wanted to file claims against any assets we had (which we didn't have any), there were none and it was over.

2 months later we received the final discharge notice and it was over. I never felt so horrible in my life. I know I should have felt relief in the fact I had no debt and could start over, but I didn't. Even though more than half the debt was out of my control (the medical bills) I still wondered if there was anything else I could have done to make it. I tortured myself for over a year. And it still bothers me sometimes.

And filing bankruptcy won't always solve all your problems. Terry continued to become ill about every 1.5 years after that and even with insurance the medical bills would pile up. The company we worked for moved us around the state of Montana about every 6 months to a year and would only pay min. relocation costs, so there would be deposits for hook-ups, rentals, etc. Everytime we moved, our savings would be gone again. Just as we would start to build it up again, *PooF* another move and it's gone again.

Every application for credit that I have ever filled out asks, "Have you ever filed bankruptcy" or "Have you filed bankruptcy in the past 10 years?" This follows you and can haunt you if you don't become Foolish and get your spending habits and life in order before you file.

If anyone out there files bankruptcy merely to clear their accounts and start over, but learn nothing from it, then they are abusing the system and what it was made for. We did go with Consumer Credit Counseling for 2 years before we left Montana (we moved to upstate NY 2 years ago this month) and managed to get quite a few of the bills left from our moves paid off. None of those accounts ever showed on our credit reports as past due once we started making the payments through CCCS. Not one of those bills show on our credit reports today. Yet the ones from bankruptcy still show, at least for another couple of months.

When we moved to NY we were able to stay with Terry's mom and use the money that we would have paid in rent and pay off bills. We left Montana with 9 bills and when the time came to move out of his mother's house, she gave us $1,000 to pay the deposits on the apartment and the utilities so we could continue to funnel our money to the bills. His Aunt loaned us $5,000 at 4% interest, payable when we can, so we could get a car or cars (we got 2, but one died last year) and not worry about payments and continue to funnel that money to the bills. I then approached his Uncle for help. I wanted to pay off all the bills and consolidate the payments. I knew I would never get the bank to loan us the money needed ($10,000, there were student loans when I had gone back to school) to pay everything off. He agreed, we pay him a monthly payment with 4% interest.

I now owe his Uncle a little over $9,000 (making double payments when I can to pay off more of the principal) and his Aunt a little over $4,000. I work part time, my husband works full time. I could go back to work full time and put my youngest in daycare, but I don't have too and I don't want too right now. But I will tell you this, we have learned our lesson and no matter what it takes, both of us working 2 jobs if needed, we will never file bankruptcy again. It was emotionally draining, mentally exhausting and I was raised that if you incur the debt knowingly, you pay the debt back. It's called honor.

I've seen your examples, one man files, one man doesn't. You paint such a rosey picture, but it rarely happens that way. In a picture perfect world it would happen like that, but it usually doesn't.

To me part of being a Fool is being responsible and learning from your mistakes. If you rack up a ton of Credit Card debt and don't make the payments, yet can afford to pay the lawyers over $500 to file bankruptcy for you, shouldn't that money have gone to the bills instead? Using a CCCS or Credit Card Management place is much more responsible than just saying, "Oh to heck with it" and blowing it all off.

Bankruptcy is not to treated lightly and certainly not to be thrown around as an option when the person is able to repay the debt without causing undue stress to the family. If there are other options, they should excerise them. Bankruptcy should be and I believe, IMHO, was created as a last resort, only after you have tried every other option available to you.

But back to my original question, if you are still with me, just what is your back ground? As you may have noticed here, most everyone has been pretty up front about who they are, what they have to offer, what they have to back up their advice and gives their posts credibility and credence by giving information about themselves and their backgrounds. I am curious about yours. I have spent the better part of my evening reading your posts and you have yet to offer any of the information that would give your posts much more weight and believabilty.

Just curious. And thought you would like to hear from an actual, real life survivor of bankruptcy.

Sorry for messing up your board Terry :)
emailed and posted
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