Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Step Two

Years ago, I was a Business Law student in a class that studied US Bankruptcy laws. I remember thinking that this was something to be avoided, that this was the "easy way out."

My own financial situation had gotten this close to bankruptcy, and every bone in my body felt that filing was nearly an immoral act. I had promised every creditor that they would begin to receive payments from me as soon as I was employed. I always believed there was a major difference between someone who is unwilling to pay and someone who is unable to pay. I thought I would be doing the honorable thing by making every effort to repay what I owed the best way possible. There were days where I literally did not have a dime to my name and I had three kids to feed. So naturally, I had to choose not to make payments on my accounts. But I always assured them that money would be forthcoming.

Bankruptcy was a most undesirable option to me. I thought my word and my honor would be enough. None of the companies I owe money to would be closing their doors due to a default by me, but I was raised to fulfill my obligations. I was forced to sign up for Medicaid and food stamps after my Unemployment Insurance ran out. Nothing like dire need to squash pride and get you over yourself.

But I worked at it. I applied for every position I was even remotely qualified for. I filed probably in excess of 1500 job applications. I remember subscribing to Monster.com and TheLadders.com. I remember forking over $600 to TheLadders for a "resume overhaul." I had 30 years experience. I had Securities Licenses, I had my Life Insurance License in 3 States. Didn't matter. Nothing happened. My resumes went unnoticed. The worst part of applying for work in this country is the silence. They don't tell you "yes" or "no", they say nothing. But I did finally manage to speak to two recruiters. They both told me my resume was awful and that it was probably not even being read by humans.

I went back to square one. I laughed when I got an offer from TheLadders to "review" my resume some months later. They wanted more money to revamp the resume they'd written for me in the first place.

Needless to say, that didn't happen. I sat down and wrote my own simple, one-page resume. I applied to Sears Holdings for a holiday sales position. I got hired with my own version of the resume, not the Ladders version. I got the sales job at Sears for the holidays.

I worked well enough to get hired into a permanent position. But Sears only paid $6 per hour. (not a typo). I was trying to feed, clothe and house my kids on $6 per hour. (this was supplemented by "commissions" on sales, typically 1% of the sales I made. If you didn't make enough commission, they bumped you up to minimum wage, incidentally) That was not a fit, obviously.

I got hired by my current employer in September, 2011. At a lot more than $6 per hour. I'm still considered "low income", but my foot is in the door and the potential is there for raises and promotions. I have health insurance now. When I was an independent financial consultant, I was paying $2200 per month to Blue Cross/Blue Shield for Major Medical. Now I pay $50 per week.

And I began contacting my creditors immediately. I wanted to start making good on my obligations. And that's when things got dark again.

More to come.


  1. Bankruptcy was THE most difficult decision I had to make..although it was years ago, maybe a decade ago, I'm just now forgiving myself for it. sometimes life just throws you curve balls that slips you into no other options...it's OK..best of luck!

  2. I was so close in 1999, but could not give up my cameras and such. Sorry it things got darker for you, I was able to meet a second wife and as a team we beat the debt devil.


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