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Post-holiday review may reveal the need for bankruptcy relief

Some people are still trying to recover from the increased holiday spending that occurs each year. This year there are reports indicating that many consumers are over-using their credit cards to survive. In Florida and elsewhere, that may be a sign for some that they will need to seek debt relief, even bankruptcy in some cases.

The standard advice is to get an interest-free offer of a credit card from a bank and transfer the holiday balances onto it. However, that advice may not help those with less than optimal credit who are being severely pressured by an overwhelming debt load. Bankruptcy is of course not a path that many hard-working, sincere people will choose lightly or without due deliberation. Surprisingly, however, many are pleased to discover that the benefits in many instances far outweigh the detriments.

The first thing to do is to survey one's debt situation and collect all documentation. Get all the bills together, determine monthly payments on each, and do a monthly budget to determine how the total bill payments stand up within the income abilities of the debtor(s). If there is a comfortable minimum payment that can pay off the balance due within a few years, the borrowers may want to sit down with a certified credit counselor to work out a tight budget plan for paying off the cards.  

If the budget shows that the cards cannot be paid comfortably within the next three to five years, it is likely time to at least talk with a consumer bankruptcy attorney. The consultation will enlighten those facing these issues with a great deal of information on their financial standing, their need to file and their qualifications to file under federal and Florida law. If they are qualified, the attorney will nonetheless advise whether any other options are available or preferable. When serious debt relief will put a person on the path to a fresh start without prior financial baggage that has become crippling and unresolvable, the choice will likely be an easy one to make.

Source:, "Sean Talks Money: How to Overcome a Holiday Debt Hangover", Sean McQuay, Jan. 23, 2017

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