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Letting Go

Americans pride themselves on being stoic, tough, and hanging on during a period of struggle. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” summarizes our cultural attitude towards hardship. So when financial difficulty strikes, the natural — and largely, correct — instinct for most of us is to step up our efforts to make money, decrease our spending, and “circle the wagons” for the protection of ourselves and our families.

But sometimes, hanging on is the wrong move. Recognizing the time to “let go” is hard when you feel as though you are struggling to maintain your very existence. Here are some things to consider:

* Prioritize. You need an income and the means to generate it (vehicle, clothing), a home with working utilities, and food on the table for you and your family. Everything else is secondary

* Eliminate unrealistic expectations. Through the course of the “good times” or just trying to maintain the illusion of success, you and your family may have raised your standard of living beyond your ability to support. If so, it’s time to have that family meeting you’ve been dreading — and to be up-front with those friends and family members that have been enabling or encouraging such a lifestyle. “We can’t afford it right now” may sound horrible, but unless your spendy friends and family are willing to write you a check to support a higher lifestyle, their opinions are meaningless.

* If after cutting back you realize you need to cut deeper — perhaps, to let go of a home or car you can no longer afford, or to stop paying a debt you can’t afford — it’s time to call Bailey & Galyen for a bankruptcy consultation.