Why Am I in this Boat?

Posted on Apr 07, 2015 By Suzanne Carlson Shinn

Birmingham bankruptcy attorney Suzanne ShinnAfter a number of years counseling great people who continue to be perplexed, even mystified, as to how in the world they have ended up in a bankruptcy attorney’s office seeking legal advice for matters that are normally and genuinely far too personal and painful to discuss with even the closest of friends……I have found what seems to be a very common question asked by many.

Why am I in this boat? How did I ever get here? I was doing everything right…..or at least I thought I was.

And that is the specific point I want to focus on in this blog post because there seems to be a very common thread that many miss along the way. After all of the analyzing, after all of the estimating, deliberating, contemplating, it’s really quite simple actually. And it wasn’t a huge wind, a major storm or even an earthquake that shook everything up.

Many changes in life are, in fact, quite subtle. I liken this conclusion to the frog that is placed in a kettle of water. At first the water seems normal, but as the heat is gradually increased, eventually the frog will be cooked. And so ensues the following scenario with our finances:

  • You have had the same job for a few years maybe even many years.
  • You haven’t been charging at all on credit cards and/or you have been making the payments as required.
  • You haven’t made any major purchases for a car or house, haven’t even financed any furniture, boats or 4wheelers.
  • You have even received a raise in your wages here and there or received bonuses or worked extra hours when allowed.
  • You are driving the same distance to and from work.
  • You are not leading an extravagant lifestyle, dining out, going to movies, frivolously spending your paycheck.

So why are you in this boat?

The subtle changes we most often don’t take into consideration are:

  1. Unless you have been able to take on another job or part time job, what you are earning (even with some increase in pay) probably will not allow you to keep up with…
  2. Interest rates increasing on your credit cards, late charges or even monthly finance charges. And unless you are able to pay far more than the minimum payment, even the smallest credit card balance will not budge.
  3. Even minor increases in property taxes insurance rate increases for home and/or vehicles, and car tags can be changes that you weren’t counting on or making a part of your budget.
  4. You cannot count on and should really never count on vague and nebulous factors such as bonuses, commissions or overtime hours.
  5. Certainly….we cannot ever know what it will cost us to drive to and from work. Even though you may be driving the same distance every day, it is likely costing more to drive that same distance due to the rising or at least fluctuating price of gasoline.
  6. In case you haven’t noticed…..the cost of groceries!!! And might I add that, in my humble opinion, this is the most subtle of all. The price for a half gallon of milk doesn’t go from $1.39 to $2.39 overnight.

If we think back, the increase has been by pennies at a time…..very slowly, the water temp rising day after day….food, clothing, medicines, even band aids for Pete’s sake. And so, finally we end up with more month than money, ends never meet and we manage to escape from the near boiling water with our lives and land in the attorney’s office….soaked with feelings of….where did I go wrong. Well, take heart!! Quit beating yourself up and take a deep breath. We will help you put a game plan in place that will help you budget in the future, put all of the old behind and start fresh! Best of all, you will be relieved to find out that with genuine counsel…..you are NOT the only one that has ever been in this boat!

Contact our attorneys today for a free consultation if you are having trouble making ends meet.