Written By: Lisa Fantone

Sometimes, we all find ourselves ready to try something new, to do something different. After years of shopping at the same store, you might decide to try a new place. After months of the same haircut, you go a little crazy and get a different style completely. After days of silence at home, you break it with an olive branch in the form of wine, cheese and crackers for your husband, along with some quiet talk laced generously with forgiveness and apology.

Sometimes, our changes are wonderful and work out well! We love the new store, the new haircut, the mended relationship. Other times, not so much.

The store doesn’t carry the things to which we are accustomed.

The haircut drives us insane when it doesn’t look like the stylist did it.

The relationship has been so battered, no amount of wine and cheese and quiet apologies will ever repair it.

Occasionally, a small change isn’t what’s required, and an overhaul is the only way out. Divorce is not a small change – it’s an entire overhaul. Relocation isn’t a small change – it’s an entire overhaul.

And bankruptcy, well, that’s a desperate measure when no small change would ever do.

The path to bankruptcy starts innocently enough: using credit cards when you don’t have cash to spend, buying things you really can’t afford, and then borrowing money to try to make ends meet. Maybe you try to do credit counseling or debt consolidation; maybe the bank turns you down. Debt relief programs promise to help – but some creditors don’t like those plans, and they threaten lawsuits unless you pay up – NOW.

One day, despite your best intentions, you realize you the stress is quite literally tearing you apart, you cannot meet your obligations, and you conclude that, in spite of the numerous drawbacks, bankruptcy is the only way out.

It’s not the easy way out, though. It takes a lot of time, gathering paperwork and information. A hearing in front of a trustee occurs, and that’s no laughing matter. It’s a little harrowing to be in front of not only your bankruptcy lawyer, but also a very interested third party, and discuss the myriad details of your failed financial life. Eventually, the hearing ends, and in a few months, the judgment comes down, releasing you from your declared debt.

This is one fresh start you do not want to mess up, nor do you ever want to go through it all again. Careful money management, living beneath your means, and saving a little from every payday can place you on the right path once again.