I like to consider myself one of the good guys.
Like any other good guy, I’m not perfect. I make mistakes but I’ve been fortunate enough not to let the devil possess me into doing something immoral or illegal. We talked many months ago about my financial hardship and how I planned to get out of it.
Well, that plan didn’t work out. Though I continue to be gainfully employed, it seemed like it was just never enough to get over the financial predicament I placed myself in. I got my wages garnished a couple years ago because I was unable to straighten myself out. It was the hardest three months of my life. After I made it through that issue, I promised myself I’d never get that bad ever again.
Then I got worse. I totally didn’t learn my lesson. Eventually, I was three payday loans deep and hemorrhaging money with every pay check. Mind you, I also had to pay my rent, insurance, car note and buy groceries each month, all while trying not to be a recluse from the social scene.
In March I got served again by the courts. They were going to come after me for a balance stemming from the voluntary repossession of the destroyed Batmobile (A 2007 Ford Focus). It was $3000 that I did not have.
The following paycheck came and they got their first payment of what I owed. I defaulted on the promise to myself that I made in 2011. What they didn’t know however, was that it was their first and LAST payment. Though it was a struggle to do so, I took most of the remainder of my paycheck and visited one of Las Vegas’ most prominent bankruptcy attorneys.
I had consulted him in 2012 at the recommendation of my friend who had also filed. She had a great experience. I even referred another friend to his services and he too had a nice experience. I trust most of my friends, so that was enough for me.
I was quickly advised to make any physical move that I had to make, which meant moving from my friend’s house where I had stayed since July 2011. A bankruptcy on your record means that no apartment in any respectful neighborhood would accept your application within at least the year. I hadn’t planned on staying with my boy that long anyway, so I figured that move had to be made. It also helped that my girlfriend Amber and I had spoken extensively about moving in together. The hardship just made it that much easier to get the ball rolling.
With an approved apartment application in hand, the next move was to actually proceed in filing the Chapter 7, which was scheduled by my attorney six days after our retainer meeting and a eight days prior to my next garnished paycheck.
The cool thing about my attorney is that instead of having to pay everything up front, they could process an ‘emergency filing’ which with immediately grant the stay from all creditors and end all collection activities, including garnishment. It also provided an extra 20 days to gather all my pertinent information for the case. They did the hard part for me or course, pulling my credit report and public records. I just had to bring my tax returns, bank records and check stubs.
The total amount of debt I owed was $47,000. To think, I don’t even own a home. That’s a LOT of money from old credit cards, medical bills and payday loans.
From that point on, instead of paying loans every pay day, I began making payments to pay off the balance of my attorney’s and filing fees. With these payments significantly lower than those loans, I was finally able to breathe a little.
A couple weeks ago I paid my lawyer off completely and yesterday upon checking my mail I found my Chapter 7 discharge letter.
I felt the relief as soon as I filed my case and stopped paying those loans but now I truly feel a sense of closure to this story. The mistakes I made when I was married are now gone. All the finger popping, all the irresponsibility I displayed in the past is now wiped out and I’m free to start anew. I’m smarter, more mature and more conscious in regard to all my decisions now.
I’ve learned to never live above my means ever again. I also learned to never step foot into a pay day loan agency ever again. Those places are the devil, indeed. My philosophy going forward is that if you’re broke- you’re broke. As long as your rent, utilities, car note and insurances are paid and there is gas in your tank and food in your refrigerator, that’s all you need to get by.
Its cool being social; but only when you can. When you can’t though, you can’t. All that broke balling in my twenties is what got me messed up before. I refuse to fall back into that pattern. I plan on reintegrating myself as a consumer slowly. Something I never had in my adult life was financial independence. Every transaction had a dollar and a level of anxiety attached to it.
No more. Onward and upward to a brighter and more profitable future… without babies.