My friend has over 8000.00 in credit card debt as well as student loans and has stopped paying anything towards them for the last two months while unemployed(burned through emergency fund). She is crashing with me for free, just got a bartending job and will hopefully be on back on her feet soon. It’s not the easiest situation, since I’m pretty type A to her free spirit. We are hoping that she can find a room share that she can afford ASAP. I think she is in the situation where filing for bankruptcy makes sense. I’m hoping someone could point her towards a some type of legal aid resource in Portland Or that could help her file(or just give her advice).
Also… since she is looking for a place to rent, most places are saying “background check.” I’m assuming that would include credit check, would bad credit be better than bankruptcy? Should she wait till she finds a place?
If she is only $8,000 in debt - if it’s $80,000 that’s a different story - (not to downplay it, because both are a lot of money) I wouldn’t advise bankruptcy. But it costs money to file bankruptcy (lawyer and court filing fees) and it isn’t a magical solution to one’s problems. Often, she can pay a small amount towards her credit cards each month and be considered “good” on the debt while she gets on her feet, and then focus on paying it off once she’s in a safe and steady situation.
The student loans will not get discharged in bankruptcy, only the consumer debt. So she’ll still owe on those regardless.
If it’s temporary unemployment it’s better to talk to the creditors (the credit card companies and student loan providers) and ask for a grace period /hardship deference while unemployed than to file for bankruptcy. If it’s only been two months without paying, your friend isn’t even in default yet - that takes 120 days. So, please have your friend schedule a day to call her creditors and start negotiating with them/ask for a hardship deferral. Here’s the episode on default that walks through how to get student loans put in IBR (iincome based repayment) or hardship deferral.
Credit checks and background checks can come together, but not always. It’s better to be upfront with potential roomies and landlords “I have a bad credit score because of this period of unemployment, but I have the money for first/last month’s rent and am taking steps to make good on it, etc” rather than to have them find out themselves. I would have her check her credit score for free using something like creditkarma and see what she’s working with right now. She might actually still be in the grace period for her debt and her credit score might not be tanked yet. The most important thing is to TALK TO THE CREDITORS. You can negotiate with them. Ignoring them only hurts you.
If she is going to file for bankruptcy, the legal aid clinic in portland has open hours to walk through the process with an attorney for free.
Just chiming in to say that anomalily’s advice is very sound. I too would not suggest bankruptcy for a sum of $8k, which is what we’re talking – the student loans won’t get discharged.