Do You Play to Win, or Do You Play Not to Lose?

February 15th, 2010 by A Licensed Insolvency Trustee

In the 2010 Super Bowl, the Indianapolis Colts played not to lose. They didn’t take any unnecessary chances. In contrast, the New Orleans Saints played to win. In the first half, with two yards to go on fourth down, they tried to score, and were stopped, turning the ball over to the Colts. At the start of the second half they attempted an on-side kick, a very risky play, but it was successful, they recovered the ball, and went on to win the game.The 2010 Vancouver Olympics had many examples of “playing to win”: skiers going so fast that a crash is inevitable, and speed skaters pushing it to the limit. Some of them win gold; others don’t finish and don’t win.

So why am I talking about sports on this Bankruptcy Canada Trustees Talk blog? Because there are two approaches to dealing with debt problems: you can avoid the problem and hope it won’t get worse, or you can deal with it head on. You can play not to lose, or you can play to win.

I’ve met hundreds of people over the years who play not to lose. They assume that if they ignore the phone calls they get from collection agents and bill collectors, the problems will go away. Sometimes they are right. If they keep switching jobs, and if they move from town to town it’s quite possible that bill collectors will lose track of them, and no further collection activity will result. Their credit report won’t look great, but if no-one can find them, they feel that the problem is under control. Playing not to lose means you never win; you just avoid your debts; you don’t actually eliminate them, and you never get a fresh start.

I’ve also met with thousands of people who play to win. They know that they incurred the debt, but they are sick and tired of putting up with calls from collection agents. They want to deal with their debt problems. They realize that there are risks to filing a consumer proposal or personal bankruptcy in Canada. One risk in a consumer proposal is that the creditors will vote against the proposal. In both a proposal and bankruptcy your credit score is negatively impacted, and there will be a note on your credit report for many years.

Why were the New Orleans Saints willing to risk losing the game by attempting an on-side kick at the start of the second half? Wasn’t that a crazy, risky, strategy? Not really. By taking the safe route, by doing nothing, it was likely that the Saints would have lost the game. If they were going to lose anyway, what did they have to lose?

Why does a skier go so fast that they risk crashing? Because if they go slowly, they are guaranteed not to win. They really have nothing to lose, so the correct strategy is to play to win.

What will you gain by ignoring your debts? Is it worth the risk to do nothing, or is the correct strategy to get some professional advice and deal with your debts once and for all?

If you know that you will never be able to repay your debts on your own, you have nothing (but your debts) to lose, so play to win. Yes, there are risks. You risk being embarrassed admitting to yourself that you have more debt than you can handle. You risk having to confront your spending habits, and making changes to stay out of debt in the future. You won’t be able to borrow for a period of time.

But you will deal with your debts, and get a fresh start.

You will win.

Many people believe that bankruptcy is the only way out.  It’s not.  A consumer proposal may be a better strategy.  You decide what you can afford to pay to settle your debts, and offer that to your creditors.  They may agree.  They may not.  It’s risky.  But if you are committed to making a fair settlement and offer your creditors a fair deal, they will most likely accept it.  Do your research, offer a fair deal, and play to win.

Only you can decide to play to win. Only you can decide that you want a fresh start. What’s your decision? To start, contact a professional today for a no charge initial consultation to review your options, and find out if a consumer proposal or personal bankruptcy in Canada is the solution for your debt problems.

Play to win.

A Licensed Insolvency Trustee

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