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I Feel Ashamed of My Situation – Are Most Debtors Irresponsible People?

Feeling ashamedI filed a Consumer Proposal in 2009. I remember the awful feelings I had leading up to my decision to see a Trustee (hint: I felt much better once I’d consulted with him). Since I completed the Proposal, I’ve spoken to others who have been in the same situation, and felt the same way.

How did we feel? Worried. Scared. Embarrassed. Confused. Surprised. And, most of all, ashamed.

My insolvency had been such a shock – not at all what I expected to happen. I had always honoured my promises. So, I blamed myself. I could not say that the creditors were being unfair – they only wanted what I had promised them. I could not say that I had been misled – I understood even the fine print of my credit card agreements. It seemed to me that the only thing that had failed was … me!

About the consumer credit industry

Many people facing insolvency have similar thoughts. However, my Trustee filled me in on something important at our very first meeting: the credit card companies know that a certain percentage of their customers will become insolvent. And, they are aware that to an extent, it is their own practices that cause this to happen. It’s built right into their business plans, and not something they worry about.

Have you noticed that it’s still quite easy to get credit limit increases even if your credit rating is declining? Do you still get “pre-approved” offers in the mail while you struggle? It’s no accident.

As my Trustee put it, “Consumer credit is one of the few industries that will give you more of what they know is getting you into trouble.”

The credit companies offer you credit in these circumstances because you are likely to accept it – and because they know that, chances are, you are an honest person. They are confident that you will do whatever you can to pay them back, even if your finances are on the edge of failure. It’s a gamble, but they win often enough to keep trying.

Now, how do you feel about your honesty? Better? Good!

Remember, insolvency can happen to any type of person

You may not be aware of how common it is, so this statistic may surprise you: in the last 10 years, over one million Canadian consumers filed either Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal. That’s more than one in every 27 Canadian adults.

Many honest, responsible people you deal with every day have been insolvent and sought a solution through a Trustee. They resolved their problems and went on with their lives.

Seeing a Trustee for help

You may worry that your first conversation with a Trustee will be difficult. It’s natural to be nervous about revealing your situation to a stranger. However, Trustees are well aware of how the credit industry works, and how it can be counterproductive to consumers. They know that an honest person can easily land in an impossible situation – especially if something unexpected has happened in their lives. They see it every day! So, the Trustee will not be shocked by your story. He or she knows it has nothing to do with your character.

When you see a Trustee to learn if Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy can resolve your situation (or alternatives the Trustee may suggest), you are making a positive, responsible step.

And, if you are like me and the others I’ve spoken with, you’ll sleep better as soon as you begin the process. The worst will be over!

As soon as I saw a Trustee and began the process of filing my Consumer Proposal, I felt better about myself and my future. If you are in a stressful financial situation, I hope you feel encouraged to make your free, first appointment with a Trustee.