Now What: Recovering from the Negative Emotions of Bankruptcy

Filing for business or personal bankruptcy is one of the more difficult decisions you will make.  Combine this decision with the unexpected negative emotions and at times things can seem to be overwhelming.  See the article titled, “Surviving the Emotional Side of Bankruptcy” to help identify some of the negative emotions that are often experienced.  Once you identify the negative emotions the next step is to cope and then finally to overcome the negative energy and look for what you can do.

Regain control.  There are many factors that are completely out of your control during bankruptcy but there are some factors that are within your control.  The economy, the value of your home and in some cases the prospect of a job in your area of expertise is beyond your ability to change.  However, your spending habits, budgeting, taking care of yourself physically, and increasing your income potential are within your control.  Place your energy into evaluating your current situation and begin to look for even the smallest of changes that you can make.  Making many small changes can help to change your overall situation.  For instance, you may begin clipping coupons, shopping at discount stores, garage sales or thrift stores for your needs instead of going to your usual stores.  In addition, taking care of your health, eating right and exercise can help to reduce future medical costs.  Look for the small things that you can change instead of the large things you cannot change.

Focus on the positive.  It is easy to become focused on all of the negative things happening in your life right now as filing for bankruptcy makes them all too clear.  The temptation is to allow the negative emotions to overtake you and focus on them instead of the positive.  Bankruptcy has a way of taking a half-empty glass and making it three-quarters-empty (or more), yet there is still something left in the glass.  However small the amount, give thanks for what you still have.  Your possessions may no longer be in monetary form but they may be in relational form such as good friends and family or in physical form such as good health or spiritual form such as a strong faith in God.  Whatever you have left, be grateful and give thanks daily.

Learn from past mistakes.  The challenge of learning from past mistakes is to stop beating yourself up and stop dwelling on the same issue over and over.  Replaying the moments of poor decisions again and again like a tape running in your head is not productive rather it is destructive.  What is worse is labeling yourself as a loser or a failure for having made the mistake in the first place.  A better solution is to write down the mistakes, evaluating each one separately to see if you really could have made a better decision.  For instance, if you found yourself in an overvalued house before the crash of the real estate market, how much could you realistically have foreseen?  Even the financial experts did not predict such a crash and certainly the mortgage industry was off as well.  But you can learn from this event that what goes up can come down and buying a home well under your current income level is better than buying a home at your current income level or slightly above.

Make a new plan.  Only after you have confronted the negative emotions, regained control over what you can control, focused on the positive things you still have and learned from your past mistakes can you begin to make a new plan.  Trying to make a new plan without the above information will not provide you with the proper perspective.  Making a new plan is about looking forward to what is a more realistic expectation for your financial and personal life.  You may choose to go back to school to advance your degree or work towards a vocation that you enjoy.  You may choose not to buy a home until you can put 50% of the money down, choosing to save for the event.  You may choose not to purchase any new or used cars on a payment plan and instead save the money out of cash flow.  Whatever the plan, write it down and refer to it regularly to keep your perspective in the proper place.

Use the negative emotions from bankruptcy to form a new way of looking at life.  The American Dream does not have to include massive amounts of debt rather the American Dream is about freedom from the tyranny of debt.  By choosing to live your life differently, you will begin to see the lessons learned from bankruptcy as a blessing instead of a curse.

For more information, watch this video. 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Advertisements

The Joining of Your Money in Marriage

One of the hardest areas for most couples to agree is in the area of money and finances.  In fact, most divorces are the result of disagreements over money that date back to the beginning of their marriage.  Failing to plan for your finances to be joined together is a recipe for disaster.  There are many financial courses available to you such as Financial Peace University and Crown Ministries both of which lay a solid financial base and should be considered within the first year of your marriage.  Until then, here are a couple of potential differences in your financial perspective to discuss and compare notes.  By spending time now understanding each other’s perspective, some of the tension involving money can be minimized.

Different socioeconomic backgrounds.  You may not have grown up in the same zip code or come from the same financial background.  Some families tend to be savers and some tend to be spenders, your family’s financial background has already influenced your finances.  And while your family’s perspective on money may be different from you, imagine the tension that can be created if your spouse to be has an entirely different background experience.  The discussion topic to have is what is your family’s experience with money and how has that experience affected your financial decisions.

Different financial goals.  Having financial goals like how much money do you want saved, when and where would you like to retire, and what annual salary are you striving to achieve are just a small sample of goals that you should be discussing.  After all, each of you already has a financial goal which should become a shared goal between the two of you.  Some financial goals may be more defined and specific than others; one of you is likely to be a bit more detailed.  But if your spouse to be says that they don’t have a financial goal then their goal is really to allow others, including the financial markets, to dictate their life.  This is not a healthy goal upon which two people should be joined.

Different spending habits.  More than likely, one of you will be a spender and the other a saver.  Determine now who is which and who is going to be in charge of managing your finances.  The saver is the best choice for managing the money as they are better at long-term planning then the spender.  Both of you should begin now to put together a budget that you can agree on that is consistent with your financial goals.  Discuss and agree now on how money will be spent from each paycheck and how much money will be saved.  There are many guidelines out there for budgeting but the best one is the one that works for you and is easy to stick with every month.

Different checking accounts.  Right now you have different checking accounts and different monthly expenses.  Soon you will need to decide how and if the accounts will be joined together into one account or several different accounts.  Whether or not the accounts are jointly held, both of you needs to have access to the accounts including the balances at all times.  If not, one person may believe that the other is hiding money from them.  This breeds distrust and disunity.  Discuss now what accounts you will keep at which banks and how to give both of you access to the balances on a monthly if not daily basis.

While there are many more issues to address with joining your finances together, this list is a good place to start as you begin the merging process.  It is likely that the above topics will cause some disagreement already but that is precisely what it is designed to do because if you agree on these topics now, it will greatly reduce the tension later.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.