This is a guest post from Jessica Wagner.
Washington’s awash with wimps when it comes to negotiating on debt, driving up fears that the United States might actually manage to slip into default. While that’s probably not going to happen given the potential consequences, this kind of brinksmanship makes the country look bad to the rest of the world. It’s the same thing as what happens when you don’t pay your bills: you don’t look too great to creditors anymore. You might just barely steer clear of bankruptcy, but the damage might already be done.
That’s why it’s so important to keep your eyes on the debt clouds above you, otherwise you won’t be able to see such a storm coming. There’s no reasonable excuse for an emergency bankruptcy. Financial trouble of that caliber takes years to amass, and catastrophe can be seen coming months in advance. It’s during this time, and not when the crisis hits a boiling point, that your personal finance negotiations and readjustments need to occur. Our lawmakers might not have the brains to better prepare themselves for such obvious events, but that doesn’t mean you have to be so inept.
Sell luxuries through online classifieds. Scour the web and beyond for paid surveys and other minimal effort gigs that can net you precious gift card earnings, which can be used to buy necessary household items while you put the savings toward debt. Give your credit card companies a call and talk them down on interest rates or payments. If there are family members who are willing and in the position to patiently wait for reparation, consider borrowing money from a loved one. But any step that involves further burdening yourself with debt should be given the utmost consideration and be utilized only as a last resort.
The point is that, because it takes months and years to rack up the debt it takes to default, there’s plenty of time to avoid it. Those that get to the point where they have no choice but to file for bankruptcy sought solutions that were either futile or too hopeful. Instead, their time could have been better spent finding ways to adjust to a lifestyle change in order to dutifully repay debt. Trust me, I was one of them.
Don’t let default get as dangerously close to becoming a reality as our nation’s lawmakers have. See it coming and do everything you can to avoid a cataclysm. Whether you’re able to avoid bankruptcy or not, you never want to be in the situation where it’s a threat. Play it safe six months out, or else you risk losing everything for an unknowable amount of the future.