In My Bankruptcy Feelings

Recently a friend of mine reached out to me regarding the possibility that they may file for bankruptcy.  When I started this blog, I definitely wanted to be used as resource for anyone who needed financial guidance and/or just to talk out their finances. So, when this friend reached out, it made me feel like this blog is accomplishing the effect I wanted it to have… this idea that we can just openly talk about our financial worries and any money matters with each other without feeling like we can’t or shouldn’t.

I listened to my friend talk about their reasoning for possibly considering filing for bankruptcy, and it made me reflect on my own bankruptcy adventure.

It took me months of weighing the pros and cons of bankruptcy before finally deciding that it was the right move for me. It wasn’t an easy decision, but ultimately the amount of debt I had from terribly managed spending habits was collapsing onto my very being. I felt suffocated and unable to find my grounding. The thing about bankruptcy, is that it’s not just something you decide on a whim. It’s a carefully thought out decision, and I think there’s still this incorrect idea in our society that people who file for bankruptcy are 1) failures and 2) looking for an easy way out.

I certainly felt that this is what others might think about me once they found out that I was going to file for bankruptcy, and look at me now! I have an entire website where the premise is my bankruptcy, and I shout it out at audiences when I do stand up! My bankruptcy is not a secret because I want to normalize it. Filing for bankruptcy is a normal thing, and we shouldn’t look down on people who decide to do so. Because guess what, folks!

It’s not an easy way out. It comes with after effects, or what you’d call consequences. When I finally decided to file for bankruptcy, it was me becoming fully cognizant of my situation and also of the work I had to put in after my discharge. 

For me, my decision was worth it even if every now and then I am faced with hurdles because my bankruptcy is on my credit report and will be on there for nine more years!

I remember the first few times that I saw my therapist after my bankruptcy was discharged, and how she even noticed the difference in my attitude and mood. I felt relief. A huge source of anxiety and stress had been lifted from my shoulders because I recognized what was best for me and my life.

So to my friend, and to whoever else is or has contemplated filing for bankruptcy:

  • Do your research. Reach out to people who you know might have done this before. (HIIIIIIIII, I’M AVAILABLE TO TALK WITH YA’LL!!!!!!!!)
  • Research lawyers who are reputable.
  • Weigh the pros & cons (which I’ll make a post about in the future)
  • Think about what you will have to do/how your life will be post-bankruptcy. You have to have a plan in place so that you can learn better financial habits.
  • But most of all, TRUST YOURSELF.
  • AND DISMISS THE BAD ENERGY FROM PEOPLE WHO MAY LOOK DOWN ON YOU FOR DOING SO.

Filing for bankruptcy is a normal thing to do. I could get into my rant about capitalism, but I won’t. Just know that you are not alone in facing this possibility, and that it’s OK.

When we last saw our hero…

supermanismoneysavvy
(Action Comics #176 “Muscles for Money!” part 1 of 2)

I decided to take a spontaneous trip this past week. This is why I am bringing you this week’s post two days late on a Saturday night. I was in New York City this past week in what essentially was a last minute decision in the form of my friend texting me, “Hey want to go to New York?” and a few hours later I replied with, “Girl, I got our tix for Monday”. With all the excitement of exploring a city I have never been to before, I didn’t have a moment to breathe and compose a post from the tiny screen of my giant smartphone. I need a computer screen like the professional blogger that I am! (“I have a domain name and that makes me a professional blogger” is essentially the equivalent of Spongebob’s Plankton saying “I went to college!”) It isn’t like I didn’t actively think about my dearest Pig. This brings me to this week’s topic:

TREAT YOURSELF BUT KNOW WHERE YOUR MONEY IS GOING!

This is coming from someone who actively would put on a blindfold whenever I spontaneously treated myself. Clothes, clothes, clothes, never mind that these clothes don’t fit anymore.

I’ve previously talked about treating yourself and touched on the idea of planning ahead in order to treat yourself. That camping trip you want to go on? How are you going to make it happen? Saving money for that trip! Likewise, if you get the opportunity to hop on a plane and see a place you’ve never seen before, KNOW THE EXPENSES.

Let’s rewind. When my friend told me about New York, I first took it with a grain of salt. When she explained we could stay with her cousin, I considered it a little bit more. Lodging was one expense less. I began to think this might just work. I began to research flights to see what the price ranges were for the dates we were considering. I changed times and flight details in my search criteria in order to see if there were any inexpensive options.

The flight was affordable for what I had available at the moment. That was the first step.

Next, I took a look at my wealth management spreadsheet (remember guys, I hate the word budget, and wealth management has more of a positive connotation because it is my money, and I get to decide where to best allocate it).

I determined where I could cut back on for this month’s typical expenses to determine how much money I could actively set aside from my bank account for expenses during this trip. I took into account the little things like:

  • I wouldn’t be using my car during the week I would be in New York. Therefore, I would have one less time to fill up this month in my expenses.
  • I wouldn’t be buying my weekly groceries for home because I could use that for food expenses while out there.
  • I could cut back on my leisure limit for the month and switch it over to leisure limit for New York. Furthermore, after a week in New York, why would I want to go out again this weekend? Notice how on a Saturday night, I am at home, typing up this post, and probably going for a run at the gym after posting this? None of that includes spending money on bar hopping this weekend! Shifting that leisure money helped give some more money for things to do while I was out there.

Little things like this add up. This money then turns into an amount that could be applied for things to do in New York. I was able to shift and see where my money would be going. The point being: don’t blindly take a leap toward treating yourself without first sitting down and analyzing where the money for it is coming from and what other adjustments you will have to make.

Another important factor to highlight: While on a spontaneous trip or any trip really, take a moment to pause and reflect. By this I mean pause from what you are doing while out there and reflect on what you have been spending while you are there. There will always be some form of downtime amidst all of the exploring and walking (my feet are tired) to take a moment and check in with your money.

Be like the Superman in the picture above and check your assets.

You can take this moment while you’re all figuring out what to do next back at the home/hotel you’re staying in.

  • Open up your bank app.
  • Log onto your credit card’s website.
  • Count that cash in your wallet.
  • Venmo the people you’re with if they covered for one thing.

You can even do this while you’re taking a shit from having been a little too gluttonous (that pasta hit my intestines like nobody’s business and yet here I am sharing it with you).

If you go over what you expected, make a note to create an action plan for that when you return home. You are responsible for your money. For years, I spent without wanting to look at what I spent. That didn’t get me anywhere good. While on this trip I took several moments to pause and reflect. Now that I’m back home, I can determine if I need to make any further adjustments in this month’s remaining income. Being in control is a satisfying feeling. You can be in control, too!

Cool, now that we have that out of the way, let’s settle a very important debate. New York pizza is great… at 2 AM in the morning after a few drinks.