What 'Really' Causes Bankruptcy

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Another bankruptcy attorney weighs in in the comments section:


A lot of what your friend says about bankruptcy clients having taken on risks they couldn't handle is true. However, I DO feel sorry for most of my clients who have taken on too much risk, because almost always, they did it without realizing that was what they were doing. Nobody wants to be taking lessons in financial management from bankruptcy filers, but the fact that someone made poor financial decisions doesn't really speak to whether one should "feel sorry" for them. For the record, I have yet to see a single client who has filed for bankruptcy because of "live for the moment vacations or big interior decorating projects put on the credit card, drug addiction, [or] gambling." Most people aren't doing things that common sense says are financially insane. They are doing things that are financially insane in ways that are not immediately obvious to the average person, like overinvesting in real estate or risky stocks, or failing to have a big enough emergency fund because they assume that their credit cards will be enough to carry them through a gap in employment. Most of my clients could stand to sit down for an hour or so with a financial advisor, but most of them are NOT wildly irresponsible idiots.

I'll be doing some fiscal checkup posts tomorrow as people start looking ahead to the new year.    We should all look hard at our savings and ask how long they'd really carry us through in a pinch.


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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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