The rise of Amazon has had a tremendous impact on American businesses and retailers. Earlier this year, children’s clothier Gymboree announced that they were declaring bankruptcy (for the second time) and now planned to close up to 800 stores. More recently, Forever 21 announced their plans for bankruptcy, including the closure of 178 stores.
But it isn’t just Amazon causing this stress. Folks reading these stories hear many of the same things:
· Assuming too much debt.
· Too aggressive a growth pattern.
· Weak management.
For an individual saddled with debt, these factors can sound pretty familiar. Perhaps you bought a car with a payment just over your budget. Maybe that new house had one bedroom too many. You think of the stigma of bankruptcy and say to yourself, “Maybe I’m just not good with money.”
While these can often be contributing factors, they aren’t the only causes of personal bankruptcy. Sure, you may regret that recent purchase, but consider you were a manager at one of those newly bankrupt stores, and finally bought that new car you’ve needed for years. Now you have a car payment that you could afford when you bought your car, but can’t now that your store is closed.
Not your fault.
A leading cause of personal bankruptcy in America is medical debt. You or a loved one has become ill, and the costs of care and medication are slowly eating away at your nest egg.
You should know that your financial pain is not an isolated case. As many stories as you hear about businesses going bankrupt or a financial restructuring, most bankruptcies in America are from people just like you.
The American Bankruptcy Institute reported that in 2015, people and businesses who filed bankruptcy had over $113 billion in debt and $77 billion in assets. Most of those assets were in real estate, and the actual value of real estate is relative to what someone wants to pay for it. You may think your home is worth a million dollars, but folks in your neighborhood won’t go over $300,000.
And here’s the kicker:
Out of the 844,495 bankruptcy cases filed in 2015, very few of them were businesses like Gymboree or Forever 21. Over 96% of them were people just trying to stretch things out until that next paycheck.
If you ever find yourself struggling to fall asleep, listen to a corporate conference call. It’s a bland recitation of financial figures and accounting lingo. You may learn some new buzz words and phrases that you can use in your next board meeting, but it’s a dry room. Here’s the thing: Most businesses who declare bankruptcy see the warning signs coming. You hear guys on those calls talking about “restructuring” or “assuming debt.” It may have come as a surprise to the store manager or the kid folding Fall sweaters, but those corporate leaders knew they were going to have to shut down.
You can see the warning signs also. Come see us, and we’ll point them out to you – with no double-speak or corporate mumbo-jumbo.