The "B" Word

This is the hardest post I've ever attempted to write. Social stigma aside, admitting the exploring bankruptcy is basically admitting to complete failure. But despite all our efforts to change the course of our financial lives, it's obvious that bankruptcy is quickly becoming our only option.

In a nutshell, my husband purchased a pizza delivery franchise in August of 2004. About 6 months later, we made the colossal mistake of building a home (no, we haven't been stung by the ARM bug, one of my stipulations to the mortgage was a 30 year fixed rate, whew!).

I don't have to tell you what's happened to the economy...goods are getting more expensive, people are using less "expendible" income, minimum wage has increased along with gas prices. Our royalties and rent went up. Sales went down. You don't need to be a mathmatician to see where this is going.

Fast forward a few years, when we made a decision to purchase another location, only to have that one tank out in a little more than a year and put us even further behind. Now our flagship store is weighed down by debt from that defunct venture as well as all its own pressures.

So the current state is this: We've been working in the store something like 75 hours a week, the both of us, unpaid since I think May? We've gotten to the point where we can keep up with the business expenses as long as the unsecured debt is put on hold. Creditors are calling. Their threats don't even phase me anymore. Want to put a lien on my house/car/business/fill-in-the-blank? Knock yourself out! You're asking me to borrow money from family to pay you? Hahhhahahaahahaha! Never happen - they know better than to give me money! You want me to use my personal credit cards to pay a business expense? Been there, done that, and FINALLY learned that lesson. In fact, the sad thing is that we'll probably have to file a personal and a business Chapter 7 simultaneously because we've run the heck out of our personal credit cards to fund the business payroll.

I listen to Dave Ramsey almost every day, looking for some loophole, some stone we've left unturned. I read constantly about different methods of redemption. I pray about it. But our situation prevents me from getting a full time job, unless they'll pay me $12/hour so I can cover childcare and afford to pay someone to take my place in the store. I can't even maintain a steady part-time job because of DH's strange hours and responsibility to the store. I've tried to concentrate on reducing costs where I can, meaning inside the home, and the fruit of our efforts are plain to see - check out the grocery challenge links. We're still not even within megaphone-amplified shouting distance of making a dent in our debt.

And it's affecting my family on a personal level. DH has complained of chest pain at the ripe old age of 35. When things are particularly bad, I get short with DH and Andrew. Then depression sets in, and I can't get motivated to do anything but read more financial content. I've been staring down my bushy eyebrows in the mirror for the last 3 months, and cannot motivate myself to get out the wax, nuke the water, spread it on, and rrrrripppp! I obsess about finding free entertainment, clearance items at the grocery store, and a great buy at the Goodwill. And, as expected, marital relations hit an all-time low.

And I live in fear. Fear of going through bankruptcy. Fear of the 8 year limit between filings (what if we have a major medical disaster right after we file?). Fear about what we'll do after the bankruptcy, if the business has to be relinquished (strangely, you can find tons of info on personal bankruptcy on the internet, but things are very hush-hush when it comes to corporate...I guess we'll get all those answers from a lawyer, huh?). What I don't fear is making the same mistake twice. We've been living basically without our credit cards for quite awhile, and I think we've got the groove of cash-money-living going on.

So, gentle reader, it's my goal to document this process in a candid and earnest way for your reading pleasure. There seems to be little real-world, see-this-is-happening-to-me-and-if-you're-experiencing-this-and-feeling-this-way-you're-not-alone information out there to be had. I mean, I've read a crapload of case studies, but they're impersonal and don't describe the stress/mental anguish/guilt/ambivalence that I'm feeling right now.

I hope this helps someone. I really do.

So la-la-la-la live out loud...... ~SCC


  1. There's probably a good reason that corp bankruptcy isn't available; most are one-off deals, while a personal bankruptcy is almost a cookbook for lawyers.

    We pray for you guys every night, and are there to walk with you during the dark.

    And, our offer still stands...

  2. @Dave - Thanks for the prayers, and the offers. It's nice to know that, through this whole experience, you guys are there. We really appreciate that.

  3. Emily,
    So sorry to hear about all the tough stuff going on right now. I'll pray for you guys, for wisdom to know what to do and when as well as for some extra grace and good sleep. I know praying for good sleep sounds odd, but I know my outlook is worse when I've had a bad nights sleep. Thanks for your courage to write about this whole experience. I'm sure it will help you process the whole thing as well. Take care, Julie

  4. Julie, thanks for your prayers. They mean so much to us. It was cathartic, putting everything down "on paper", this is all junk that has been spinning through my head for a few months. I know God will get us through this, but my greatest fear is that we won't come through this intact. My trust is in Him.

  5. I made the decision to file Chap 7 bankruptcy five years ago and I am glad I did it. I work in the nonprofit world, which does not even allow for paying student loans let alone life's necessities. It's not an excuse, just the reality. Social workers do not make a living wage. I had nothing fancy to show for my $60k in credit card debt. I finally realized I was playing a losing game and filed the paperwork myself. Creditor calls stopped within about a week of my filing. I remain grateful for the fresh start, even if it has been work to rebuild my credit (which can be done).

  6. @ anon - Thanks for leaving your $0.02. I'm so glad Chapter 7 worked out well for you! I have to ask, if you're still out there, what was it like filing 5 years ago? It seems that we're getting desensitized to bankruptcy now, but it had to have been harder back then. What stumbling blocks did you run into? Did people change their attitudes about you?

  7. Hi, I stumbled on your blog from another blog. I have no advice, after having a premature baby and drowning in expense from that, we went the credit counseling route. I expect that's not available to corporate accounts. I just wanted to send you a big virtual hug.


  8. @ Katy - Thanks so much for your support. We all go through hard times, such is life, right? I pray your baby is healthy and a blessing to your family. :)