Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Initial Post

I've long considered writing a book on the experiences of my clients. Every day families and individuals sit across from me at my desk and tell of their financial woes. The stories usually run along the same theme. A spouse or child became ill, the company was downsized, the mortgage interest rate increased, etc.

The bills simply got away from them. They aren't sure where it happened or when, but one morning they woke up and realized that they were too far behind and had no hope of catching up. These are the people that come to see the Jump Law Group.

Oddly, the public perception is that people who file bankruptcy have brought this on themselves. Sadly, the people who come to see me also believe that they have brought this on themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. A lot of my time is spent counseling people on the nature of debt and how it works. That also means I have to show my client's why it is not their fault that they have to declare bankruptcy.

No one ever is happy about declaring bankruptcy and I suppose that is a good thing. But neither should people come into my office carrying the burden of the 'guilt' that they feel about declaring bankruptcy.

Do we think less of United Airlines for filing bankruptcy? Do we think less of MCI for filing for bankruptcy? No. In that case, it was merely a strategy decision for the company to protect its assets.

The same is true for the regular consumer. Filing bankruptcy is a financial decision and nothing more. It is not a moral fault as your creditors would like you to believe. Filing bankruptcy is taking advantage of your right to get a fresh start and begin anew.

The purpose of this blog is to reach out to wider audience than the clients who come to my office. 72% of all Americans qualify for bankruptcy relief. That is a significant number. We are a nation of debtors and massive debt, but we don't speak about it. Our measure of self worth is equated to the size of our paycheck or our material possessions.

This blog is a way for all of us to openly discuss how debt affects our lives. Many of my client's find it useful to write down what has happened in their lives to bring themselves to bankruptcy. I hope that this blog will allow you to do the same and show others that they are not alone.

With that said, I yield the floor to you. I have only one rule.

(1) Do not use your real name. Please post a username or something else so you won't be identified. This is a public blog and I would hate to see someones post used against them.

I wish you luck and I look forward to reading these posts as this blog takes shape. If you have questions about bankruptcy or debt, you can view the Jump Law Group website at www.jumplawgroup.com

Jay S. Jump
Principal - The Jump Law Group
528 2nd Avenue South
Kent, WA 98032
(253) 479-0241
(253) 479-0245 Facsimile


At 9:47 AM, Blogger The Jump Law Group said...

I am seeing how the comments work.

Jay S. Jump

At 10:36 AM, Blogger New Start in Seattle said...

I have had a personal experience with bankruptcy, not once, but twice in my life. I have to say that neither time did I personally have one credit card. The first experience I had was from non-insurance covered medical expenses. I was unprepared for the high price of medical care, $7.00 for a band-aid! However, I learned much from that experience and knew that I could bounce back. Back then, the myth was that you could not even attempt to get new credit for 10 years after your case was discharged. So, I waited and after 10 years bought a car. It felt good to start getting my life back in order. However, I made a second grave mistake. I married someone with a terrible spending and budgeting problem. I soon found out, after the nuptials of course, that this person had over $50,000 in credit card debt. I tried not to panic, after all this person made 3 times that in income each year. But, I soon found out that if you are not in control, no matter what the amount of debt, it will slowly suffocate you. It did, and then Mr. Bright Idea thought a second mortgage on our home would clear up the problem. In our state, they are great about having the opposing spouse sign a Quit Claim and letting the ignorant spouse enter into any contract! Argh! So, a $70,000 second mortgage was placed on my home, and about $35,000 worth of credit card debt was repaid. After 6 months the credit card balances were back up to $71,000 plus we had the second mortgage to pay! We were drowning in debt and there was nobody more opposed to having to file bankruptcy than me. I couldn't believe that I was looking it straight in the eye again. How could this happen? I came from a good family, I have a higher than average IQ, and if you don't mind me saying it, I think I am fairly attractive. Why was this happening? After realizing that I could not allow my children's home to be taken, I agreed to file again. I knew deep down that it was the smartest financial tool I had and I needed to swallow my pride and use it. Pride is a great thing, but it can also make you look like a fool and keep you from reaching out for help when you so desperately need it. Grumpily, I went to my 341 meeting of creditors, I knew what to expect but I was still not happy to be in this state. As I sat there and waited for our names to be called, I took a long look around the room. All of us debtors, that's what they call you, looked just like average hard working citizens. These were the same people you saw in line at the bank, the gas pump, the school picking up their children. The saying "Don't judge a book by it's cover" kept ringing in my mind. If you saw these people at any of the above mentioned places, you would have no clue that their financial house was in shambles. I realized that life happens to everybody, not just a select few. Some people have rougher patches of life that they must go through than others. The day I walked out of that courtroom I felt like a weight had been lifted and suddenly it became clear to me what I needed to do. I needed to clean up some major issues in my life. This was the beginning of the next chapter in my life and I wasn't going to bring any bad kharma, or bad people, into it. I broke free that day from everything that bound me and began a journey that I will never forget. My life, my credit, my independance was invigorated and I was not going to stop this momentum. I took it and ran. Since then, I have rebuilt my credit with a very respectable credit score ( I did it in less than 2 years, not the 10 years that that ridiculous myth would have us believe), I have found solace and peace in a very powerful and honest relationship, my children have a balanced life, and I know that the bankruptcy was the catalyst for it all. I never got a chance to thank my bankruptcy attorney for the powerful tool that he helped me use, hopefully, he will read this post and know how much I appreciate him.


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