If I am an average consumer and not a celebrity, how do I know if Bankruptcy is right for me? I have some debts, but I certainly don’t have hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in debts like some of the celebrities you mentioned.

Everything is relative.  If paying your debts prevents you from maintaining a minimal standard of living then the dollar amount of your debt is not the issue.

What is a minimal standard of living?  It is an amount, quantity, or degree that is the least possible, maybe it does not include everything an individual may want, but at least it includes the smallest degree of income necessary to cover those expenses essential for daily existence.  Here’s a basic checklist:

  • SHELTER that is furnished, maintained, kept clean and free of pests and in most climates it also must be heated and cooled.
  • BASIC UTILITIES such as electricity for lights, to cook and refrigerate your food; water for drinking, bathing, washing, cooking; sewer; natural gas to heat and cook; and a telephone for communication.
  • FOOD and PERSONAL HYGIENE PRODUCTS; decent CLOTHES; FOOTWEAR; and the ability to clean those items when they are dirty and replace them when they are worn.
  • VEHICLE to go to work, to the store, and to the doctors; automobile insurance; pay state licensing fees, buy gasoline; routine maintenance and unexpected repairs
  • HEALTH INSURANCE or the ability to pay for medical and dental expenses when they arise, small amounts of LIFE INSURANCE or other financial savings for burials and other final expense; and
  • SOME SOURCE OF RECREATION, even if it is just watching TV or keeping a pet.

To sum it up, if paying your debts prevents you from maintaining a minimal standard of living then the dollar amount of your debt is not the issue.


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