How I Went Bankrupt—and What I Learned

How I Went Bankrupt—and What I Learned
posed by a professional model.

By Tamara Hartley

I had a good job and was spending all of my money paying bills. So how did I become bankrupt?

Here’s what happened: I didn’t like feeling like I was working for free; something had to give. Yep, you guessed it; I stopped paying those darn credit card bills.

I needed my money for more important things.

Throughout my twenties, I continued to make reckless financial decisions.

For instance, I traded in my first car for a larger car, with a higher monthly payment, right before my car was to be paid off. It makes no sense now, but back then I was trying real hard to prove that I was grown and capable of running my adult life.

During this phase of my life, I was actually acting like a “Know-It-All.” I thought I knew everything, and that I didn’t need to share anything with anyone.

I didn’t need anyone’s approval and no one in my family knew I was deep in debt. On the outside, I was independent and had it going on. I had an apartment, an SUV, a decent job, but I couldn’t even answer my phone due to the bill collectors trying to track me down; and you would not believe how rude and ruthless some of those collectors were. The nerve of them for attempting to take away my hard earned money!

When I was 24, my bad financial decisions came to a head. I was swirling in debt and working for free. Well, at least it felt like I was working for free because every bit of my paycheck was going toward bills.

I barely had any money left after paying my monthly financial commitments. I was extremely unhappy and frustrated. I needed some relief. That’s when I filed for bankruptcy.

I had no clue what a bankruptcy was or the repercussions and the stigma often associated with filing.

Someone told me that bankruptcy was a way to get rid of my outstanding debt and stop the rude and uncaring bill collectors from hounding me. That’s what I really wanted. I needed a break, and I needed a fresh financial start. I had learned my lesson, and I vowed to never be careless with my finances again. Okay, so clearly it took way more than a pledge to get back on track. It took me well over seven years to repair my credit and bounce back from being “Bankrupt.”

I had to work hard at my finances and practice discipline. In fact, I’m still working hard and practicing every day to continue to make good financial decisions!

Blaming and avoiding bill collectors and the institutions that trusted me with credit was insane.

But as long as I made them out to be the enemy, I felt justified in not paying my bills. The bill collectors were doing their job, very well I might add, and I was only hurting myself and my credit by avoiding them and choosing not to pay on time. I was in over my head and was desperate for relief.

It took me many years to get over being “Bankrupt” and to get back on track.

I had to educate myself and to learn and understand the relationship between credit, APR, credit scores and credit reports. I learned that a credit score is very much like a GPA or grade point average, (a term I definitely understand).

It is easier to lower your credit score than it is to raise it.

And for this reason, you need to stay on top of your finances.

Follow Tamara Hartley on Twitter @YourHowtoCoach

Follow Tamara Hartley on Twitter @YourHowtoCoach

Tamara Hartley is the author of Stop Wasting Your Time Blaming Others for Your Life, Relationships, and Career: 15 Life Lessons to help you overcome difficult situations, live beyond your labels, and take control of your life and your results! OHIO: Meet Tamara  from 4-7 PM at the Homeport Gallery. The author interview and reading with Nia Noelle will start at 5 PM. For ticket info:

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