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Stop feeling guilty about filing for bankruptcy

Do you remember that old board game called, "Life?" As you moved around the board, the luck of the dice controlled whether good things or bad things happened to you. Some of them increased your fortune, others decreased it.

It was meant to mimic real life in a lot of ways. Everyone is just about one or two bad dice throws away from bankruptcy. That's why the process was created -- and why you should stop feeling guilty that you've landed in that spot.

Bankruptcy attorneys say that too many people feel guilty about reaching a financial low-point in their life. Most of the time, the reasons they're in the situation aren't something they can control.

Simple bad luck is often at the root of most bankruptcies. Even if you have a lot of credit card debt, the odds are good that most of that debt wasn't piled on randomly. You may have used your credit cards to get through a period of joblessness, pay medical bills or used them to pay for school expenses.

If you did run up debt for "luxury items," the odds are good that you were doing better financially at the time and didn't expect to be unable to repay the debts. Job markets can seemingly turn bleak overnight, and a middle manager who loses his or her job is unlikely to find something in a new field or new company that pays the same.

Medical issues can also drive someone into bankruptcy, even if they have insurance. Co-pays can be unmanageable if you owe thousands and a sudden health crisis has left you out of work for months. An unexpected pregnancy can derail all your original plans -- while simultaneously adding the expense of another child.

And, of course, divorce plays a huge part in bankruptcy filings. Divorce itself is expensive, but the real financial shock is that two people now must each manage their own separate households on one income. That can lead to bankruptcy for both.

The bankruptcy program was designed as a safety net for those major "unlucky rolls of the dice." You don't have any reason to feel guilty about filing for bankruptcy -- that's exactly why the safety net is there.

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