Bankruptcy in the Big Bend and Beyond

Local financial experts say it's a major problem, but there are some alternatives.

Who hasn't pulled out the credit card and splurged a little at their favorite store? Well, a national report says all that splurging has folks in some local communities filing for bankruptcy at an alarming rate.

David Scott, VSU finance professor, says, "Bankruptcy is bad. The creditors lose money, it obviously affects the psyche of the people who declare bankruptcy, but I do think bankruptcy is not the negative it was 20 years ago."

That's good news for our area because bankruptcy rates in Lowndes, Brooks and Thomas Counties are well above the national average. The rate in Leon County is below the average.

Local bankruptcy attorneys say the reason why our area may have such a huge problem with bankruptcy is because of the high cost of medical care, which can really hurt some families, but local financial experts say there are ways to deal with those issues without declaring bankruptcy.

Scott says, "You need to talk with your lenders, the people you owe the money to. Many are forgiving of at least part of your debts and may be willing to extend your loan and make smaller payments.

Our region has some options when trying to reduce the number of bankruptcies and improve the financial health of local families.

Scott adds, "People have to be careful."

It’s a word of caution which could help keep folks create a healthier financial future.

Experts estimate that medical expenses lead to half of all bankruptcies, a problem which can sometimes be prevented by purchasing basic, catastrophic health insurance.