3. Borrow money from family or friends. It takes a lot of pride swallowing to ask a parent, sibling or trusted friend for financial help. Many personal relationships have been disrupted by money quarrels, but if you're near bankruptcy, don't be ashamed to make the approach.
Just make sure that it will be worth your time and their money. Before asking for a friendly loan, determine how much money you'll need to raise to avoid bankruptcy by creating a budget. Figure out what you've been able to afford, and you'll know how much more to ask for.
Asking your family for money when you're in danger of going bankrupt involves a lot of trust. Ask yourself: Are they 100% on board to help you? Will their financial generosity really help to solve your problems, or will it be a short-term approach to delaying your impending, or inevitable, bankruptcy? Most important, have you considered how you'll pay back both your creditors and your family or friends in a timely fashion?
4. Restructure your mortgage. If you're paying off your home, restructuring or refinancing your mortgage may also help make your debt more manageable. By arranging a new mortgage payment plan, you may be able to save money toward paying down your other debt. And it may be worth it if you can avoid bankruptcy or foreclosure.
There are two ways you may be able to adjust your mortgage payments. The first option is to negotiate an agreement with your housing lender to reconfigure your mortgage under a new payment plan. See if you can devise a new or temporary payment schedule under the same terms of your original mortgage.
A second approach is to refinance your mortgage altogether, which may include applying for a lower, adjustable interest rate extended over a longer period of time. The money you save on the front end can be useful in paying off your remaining debt and staving off the threat of bankruptcy.
5. Make real sacrifices. Sometimes the most surefire way to save money is to simply cut back. If you're teetering close to the edge of Chapter 7, reassess your budget and get rid of unnecessary expenses. Are you in over your head on your credit cards? Can you do without eating out or going to the movies? Canceling that gym membership or cable TV service can free up a lot of money.
Distinguishing wants from needs is a crucial part of learning how to save money and reduce debt. Start living within your means and spending less than you earn, and the savings will add up.
If going it alone doesn't work for you, a credit counselor or personal finance consultant may be able to help you get your finances back on track. In this case, your No. 1 priority is rearranging your budget so bankruptcy isn't even an option.
Trying out some of these suggestions could go a long way in helping you avoid bankruptcy. You may find that following one, all or a combination thereof makes the difference. It will be difficult; there's no quick fix or easy solution to digging out of debt. Taking financial control requires discipline and a new approach to money, so that you can make it work for you, not your creditors, in the long run.
More from U.S. News & World Report:
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
2) Search "Money as Debt"
3) Watch the 47 minute documentary to find out why BK is an inevitable part of the system.
Extra credit: Watch the two "sequels": "Money as Debt II - Promises Unleashed" and "Money as Debt III - Evolution Beyond Money"
"I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it." -- Morpheus (The Matrix)
"Choice is an illusion created between those with power and those without." -- The Merovingian (The Matrix - Reloaded)
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