There's one name that I hope my clients never forget.
No, not mine -- Dave Ramsey's.
To say I'm a big believer in Dave Ramsey and his "advanced common sense" approach is an understatement. He's awesome. He's right. And he's freeing people from the bondage of debt on a daily basis.
So tonight I finally dragged my wife to a local Financial Peace University class -- a 13 session DVD class that lays out the Ramsey Financial Peace plan. Very exciting!
Now, some might wonder about a bankruptcy lawyer who promotes Dave Ramsey. Isn't that like a field-mouse running a red-tailed hawk fan club? A seal who promotes killer whale worship? A rabbit being a hunting dog groupie?
Nah, actually Ramsey and I both agree on this point: bankruptcy is very, very painful. And it is not the cure-all to debt problems. Let me repeat that last point:
BANKRUPTCY IS NOT A CURE FOR DEBT PROBLEMS
Shocking? Well, maybe. But years of watching bankruptcy clients come and go has led me to the understanding that something important is missing. Something is not working the way it should.
Why do I say that? Why wouldn't eliminating your unsecured debt be a huge head-start to getting your life in financial shape?
Well, because as Ramsey says, "Personal Finance is about behavior." Of course if you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you CAN get out of debt. Maybe even quicker than Ramsey's famed Debt Snowball technique. (MAYBE - see article comments. fbc)
So why doesn't it work? Why don't my Chapter 7 clients find that bankruptcy is a life-changing experience -- in a good way, I mean?
Because they don't change the behaviors that brought them to me in the first place. If they file bankruptcy, they don't have to budget, they don't have to work with their spouse, and they don't have to learn to save for emergencies.
So when they take the short-cut of Chapter 7, they bypass a lot of important lessons and habits they need to instill to ensure success.
Now, none of this is to say that bankruptcy is unnecessary. Nor did I say or imply anywhere that people who are filing bankruptcy are "deadbeats" or somehow unsavory. (Quite the contrary -- my experience shows that most people would gladly cutoff their right arms if they could avoid bankruptcy.) They just don't see how that is possible. And they wait too long to take action. Many of them are already being sued by creditors or even having their paychecks garnished. These are NOT deadbeats. They're people who've made a couple of unwise decisions with money, and gotten trapped.
No - they're not deadbeats; they're good people with families and homes and dreams. They are professionals and housewives, mothers and fathers, blue collar and white collar. They are university educated, many of them. They're not stupid. They're not crooked. (Something I can't say about insurance companies and some credit card banks, by the way, many of whom have "lie, cheat, and steal" as a part of their business plans.) No, my clients aren't the bad-guys. They're just people who don't know how to find Financial Peace.
I'm going to be blogging about my experiences in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class over the summer. Please come along and follow me as I dive in.
If you need some Financial Peace; if you're one of those good solid people who have nonetheless found themselves in extreme financial distress -- give me a call. I'll try to find a way out of your predicament and get you set back on the road to financial strength. I'll also try to map a way out that doesn't include bankruptcy. But sometimes, bankruptcy is all there is left. In that case, at least you'll know that you didn't really have another choice and that you did all you could to avoid it.
Call me, I can help.
In the meantime, check out Dave Ramsey's site: http://www.daveramsey.com ; go here for a link to his Financial Peace University intro: here