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*Recovering From Bankruptcy

Recovering From Bankruptcy

 

September 11, 2002:  The day my debts were dissolved in a bankruptcy hearing.

Just one year after the never-forgotten 9/11, I had the most humbling experience of my life.

Standing before a bankruptcy judge the list of the debts I could not pay were read aloud in a small conference room of a local hotel.  I stated under oath that I could not pay them back even though I had promised to do so.  I wasn’t sure if I’d ever recover. Such a disastrous mar on my credit report and feeling lower than dirt, I knew I never wanted it to happen again.

Twelve years later I can tell you I have recovered, spiritually and financially, and we have the tools to hopefully keep it from happening again.

Hopefully.

Why hopefully?  Because in the blink of an eye things can change. Sometimes no matter how prepared we are for something the worst does happen. I realize this, but I am certainly wiser and more mature financially then I was 12 years ago.

The question at hand though, what does recovering from bankruptcy look like?  Can it be done?

I believe so.

Recovering from Bankruptcy

You need to understand the implications of bankruptcy on your credit worthiness.  When you file bankruptcy you are negatively effecting your FICO score for at least 7 years.  If you filed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy then you’ve committed to repaying at least a portion of your debts but if you filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy you’ll expect to find the bankruptcy information on your credit report for at least 10 years.  This means it is very unlikely you’ll get issued any new credit and if you do it will come with fees, high interest or maybe both.

How do you recover from bankruptcy when you can’t get credit?

Recovery is not going to be a short process.  You cannot remove the bankruptcy note from your credit score but you can take steps to start improving your overall financial fitness.  Consider this a starting point for a successful financial future without dependence on credit to meet your every day living expenses. 

Step #1: Learn to Handle Your Money Properly

If you’ve had to file bankruptcy due to poor financial choices (overspending, lack of budgeting, etc) than there are proactive steps you can take to learn how to properly handle your finances even when you cannot get new credit. Learning how to handle money God’s way will help you:

  • Reduce stress over finances
  • Position yourself to avoid the same mistakes
  • Learn to live within your means
  • Be a good steward of the resources God has given you
  • Be less dependent on debt, even for large purchases

As a budgeting coach I often talk to folks who have come out of bankruptcy and “never want to go there again.”  The best way to avoid bankruptcy from your own doing is learn to live within your means, understand biblical stewardship and have a customized budget for your life.  If your bankruptcy was due to a major catastrophe or illness you can still recover and gain great insight by evaluating how you are handling your finances.

Bottom line, a bankruptcy does not have to define you.  

Step 2: Repent of Past Financial Mistakes

Spiritually, starting over is possible because Christ is our redeemer but we need to acknowledge and repent of the careless activities that led us to financial ruin.

Romans 13: 7 (EST) says, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

As with any area of life, we must recognize our role in falling short and give that over to God.  We need to repent of our sins and the sins of past generations that could be hindering our financial stability.  Yes, generational sins can play a part in our finances.

Here’s prayer of repentance you can pray when you’re ready.  This is a serious step and one that should not simply be checked off and forgotten about.  Our words have power.  When we speak out the Word of God and stand in agreement with it we are harnessing the power of Hebrews 4:12.

Father God, 

I repent of mishandling my finances.  I repent of ignorance and foolishness with regard to being a good steward of the finances you have entrusted me with.  Forgive me for walking away from my debts and not repaying those who were owed.  I repent for my generational line and myself for treasuring money more than You.  I repent for my generational line and myself for chasing after things instead of chasing after you.  

I declare that I will be satisfied.  I declare that I will have enough. I declare that I will not worry about where my clothing or food will come from.  I declare that my mind is open to learning from You the ways of being a good financial steward.   I declare that I have a sound mind to handle my finances guided by Holy Spirit.  Your word says that You go before us and make straight the crooked paths. I will walk the narrow and straight road. I tear down idols of status and wealth and I replace them with You. 

In Jesus’ Name, 

Amen

For a more in depth prayer, consider reading this prayer for financial freedom from Paul Cox.  

Have you had a bankruptcy experience?  Have you been able to recover and move on?

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