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Bankruptcy versus paying down debt: Which choice is right?

Your debts have grown over the years. They started small enough to pay off each month but got out of hand. Now, you can barely make ends meet despite having a great-paying job.

It can be hard to know when your debts have gotten so out of control that you should just stop paying and turn to bankruptcy. Are there particular signs to look for or rules to go by? These are a few things to consider.

First, if you're planning to go through bankruptcy, know that you'll lose some of your assets and that your credit score will take a serious hit. Even if you have only a few assets to your name, bankruptcy has the potential to take those away from you. Fortunately, some things, like your main vehicle and home, may be protected against the bankruptcy.

Before you turn to bankruptcy, you do have other options. Remember that you can call and discuss the issues you're having with your creditors. Many would rather lower a payment than have you default and pay less or nothing by going through bankruptcy. You may be able to work with a debt-reduction program, too, which would help you negotiate lower settlements with the creditors instead of stopping payments completely.

If you do stop paying without entering bankruptcy first, there is a potential for you to be sued. You should consider what could happen to your credit score and in your personal life if you allow this to happen. Before you take this step, consider speaking with your attorney or seeking more legal education to make sure it's the right decision for you.

Source: Bankrate, "Walking away from debt vs. filing bankruptcy," Justin Harelik, accessed Aug. 03, 2017

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