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Ask Dave

Lost My Job...Should I File Bankruptcy?

Justin makes $19,000 a year and faces well over six figures of debt. Is bankruptcy in his future?

QUESTION: Justin just lost one of his jobs and his income was cut in half to about $19,000.  He owes $81,000 on his house, $28,000 on a home equity loan, $18,000 on his truck and $2,000 in credit cards.  He just put the truck up for sale.  He’s recently divorced and he thinks he will have to file bankruptcy.  What can he do?

ANSWER: First of all, bankruptcy will not pay your house off.  If there’s a lien on any item you have to pay the item off in order to keep it.  The only way to keep your home is to keep making house payments. 

You need to sell the house and, since you’re upside down in it, you need to talk to the bank about signing a note for whatever the house doesn’t bring. 

You either need to find another job to get your income back up so you can afford the house or you need to sell the house and the truck.  Both of those options will allow you to avoid bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy will not achieve anything for you.

Finally, get some people around you who care about you in this time.