Last year, over 750,000 people filed for personal bankruptcy. That number, surprisingly enough, is predicted to fall post-pandemic…
But that’s just for the immediate future.
The Wall Street Journal recently shared an article talking about this, and one of their interviews was with a woman named Alysse Hopkins. Like us, she’s a lawyer and one of her areas of practice is handling foreclosures. After 24 years of practicing law, she and her husband have found themselves deferring loans, collecting unemployment, and exploring some of the myriad forms of pandemic relief. As her business has slowed, they’ve found themselves blowing through savings and pondering their financial future.
For some people, the pandemic has seemed a financial respite. Many courts have closed, which means that creditors, lenders and landlords have had to hold off on filing liens and garnishments. Unemployment payments and federal funds have provided many with just enough liquidity to keep creditors at bay. Many are seeing a pause in the incessant phone calls and letters from debt collectors.
But back to those 750,000+ bankruptcies: That’s fewer than 1% of all U.S. households. Another article that we read quoted statistics from the Federal Reserve Bank that said that 14% of households, or around 17 million, carried more in debt than they held in assets.
In other words, perfect candidates for bankruptcy.
Americans hold around $4.2 trillion in consumer debt, and that doesn’t count the $10 trillion owed in mortgages. And while the unemployment rate continues to improve and some sectors of the economy are beginning to return to some normalcy, millions are still without jobs, and a growing portion of them are middle-class professionals like Ms. Hopkins.
This level of debt and lost or reduced wages is likely to get worse before it gets better. We’ve talked before about getting around the stigma of exploring bankruptcy. We’ve also talked about the enormous opportunity it affords those who pursue it. It’s not a permanent stain, it won’t freeze your future opportunities, and you aren’t the only one feeling financial stress.
None of us had a plan for dealing with the coronavirus. But here we are. Make a proactive decision and create a light at the end of your tunnel.
Remember, we can help you figure it out.