Friday, August 7, 2015

Bankruptcy and Us

I got the call from the legal assistant yesterday. The judge signed off on our Chapter 7 bankruptcy and we are officially debt-free, well almost. We were allowed to keep our home and our 2008 Ford Escape so technically we still have our $70,000 in debt but it's what we wanted to come out of this with. I posted this question to my Facebook friends about the very subject of bankruptcy almost two years ago. Jose had just been denied the provisional waiver that we had spent $670 to submit and we didn't know what our future held or what to do.

The responses that I got back from the majority were definitely for packing up and traveling the world with two people voting to pay off all of the debt first and then go. 
  • B. P. - "Travel if you can - you only live once. One piece of advice: do not do it on credit - no credit cards."
  • B. C. - "Get out... Get out now !! Before its too late."
  • M. H. - "I would so travel as long as my kids are safe with me and had enough food and water."
  • A. Y. R. - "Leave."
  • L. C. - "Second choice for sure! All the other stuff like house,furniture and household items are just that...stuff. That is not what is important. It is family and peace of mind and having those experiences that you know you would have. Also, it's time to quit having that fear all the time of being separated from Jose not by your choice."
  • G. H. R. - "I would pay off my bills and then travel. If I made the debt, I would need to pay the debt. Darned conscious wouldn't let me enjoy myself if I declared bankruptcy. I keep looking at these people who have web based businesses that live in other countries and think it looks pretty wonderful."
So with a little encouraging advice from our friends, we made the decision to stop waiting for immigration reform, save up as much money as we could, and leave the country. Looking back, I'm so thankful we did. I was scared as hell about making the wrong choice but I knew that I couldn't continue doing what we were doing. The fear wears you down and steals your dreams. What kind of quality of life is that? 

I stopped paying our credit cards and other small debt in November 2013 so we could have a little extra to put towards our move. Moving to another country costs a little bit more than your average move. The distance for one thing and all the little costs added up. We continued to make our car payments on the Escape that remained parked in the garage for six months. I also chose to continue paying our two USAA credit cards since we do everything with them and I've had them as our primary bank and insurance company since 2001. I called during the bankruptcy and asking about reaffirming the cards as I didn't want to be on bad terms with them. As soon as the paperwork was filed though, they were quick to shut everything down. I was able to keep my checking account, my vehicle, and our car and homeowner's insurance with me. I am no longer able to log onto their full website, I am reserved the mobile version only and no more depositing checks from my phone unfortunately. The good news is that Jose's access wasn't affected since all the credit was in my name so I just log on with his info when I need to. 

So here we are two years later and I have no regrets. We did what was right for my family and I have no shame in my actions. If cities and countries can declare bankruptcy, why can't I? The credit industry isn't set up to allow people to pay back debts when they get back on their feet. The only way to wipe out a poor payment history is to declare bankruptcy and wipe the slate clean. Pretty sad if you ask me. Once you miss that first payment, your interest rate goes up and they start to tack on charges. Six months without making a payment and there is no going back. That smear is going to stay on there for years, regardless of the fact that you might have started making every monthly payment on time. I don't remember us ever missing a payment in the 6 years leading up to this decision. 

It's done and now it's time to move forward with the next phase of our life. Only 28 days to departure!


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