Bankrupt and bankruptcy are such scary and somewhat dirty words.
It is a status that must be hidden from friends and encourages the family to whisper behind your back. It covers you in a veil of shame. Makes you feel like a failure.
At 24 years old, when I thought I knew everything and was invincible, declaring bankruptcy was truly soul shattering.
I’m 28 now and was discharged from my bankruptcy a couple of months ago. It has taken these past 3 and a bit years to deal with the shame and accept that it happened. I am a different person to what I was then, I am stronger, more confident, more knowledgeable and more mature.
Declaring bankruptcy in my 20’s was a blessing in disguise.
Now before you write me off and presume I was a young, stupid girl who wasted money on partying, makeup and shopping sprees – I wasn’t. I was married, a mum of an almost 2 year old. My husband ran his own business and up until my daughter was born I worked full-time. My mistake was that I let the world of credit get the better of me. I used it as if it was my own money. I lacked vital education about finances and the financial world.
My story isn’t the first and unfortunately won’t be the last. In 2013 (the year I went bankrupt) 30% of debtors that entered into personal insolvency were aged 17-34. And according to AFSA (Australian Financial Security Authority) that percentage increased to almost 35% in 2014. You can see a range of personal insolvency statistics here.
Growing up in the 90s, you were taught that, MONEY and politics were NEVER appropriate conversational topics.
But, I believe that is where the problem started. Money should be spoken about and spoken about widely. At the dinner table, amongst friends, family and most importantly in front of as well as with our children. I got in over my head with credit because I lacked education and I believed that it was inappropriate to seek advice from my circle.
If I can offer any advice it would be this. To all you lucky 20 somethings, “just because you are being offered credit doesn’t mean you can afford it!”. And to parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, talk to kids about money. Teach kids about credit, interest, savings, investments and all those “taboo” topics. They will thank you for it when they are out there manoeuvring this scary world on their own.
I am no accountant, lawyer (yet) or financial expert. But if you want to chat more about how bankruptcy affected me or anything else related to bankruptcy, reach out, I’d be happy to chat.