Don’t think of bankruptcy as a moral decision

People sometimes avoid filing bankruptcy for the simple reason that they feel bad about it. They consider filing bankruptcy to be a moral failing — they borrowed the money, so isn’t it wrong of them to use a financial tool that makes it so they do not have to pay the money back?

The argument over this rages on, but the idea that bankruptcy is a moral choice is fundamentally flawed, and puts all of the blame on the borrower. The reality, though, is that bankruptcy is often due to things that borrowers have no control over.

For instance, perhaps you opened up your own business, something you’d wanted to do for years. You borrowed money to do it. Then the economy slipped into a major recession. Suddenly, your business couldn’t get any customers, and it failed almost as soon as it started. You can’t control the recession, so you didn’t do anything wrong. Shouldn’t you use all of the tools at your disposal to make the best of the situation?

Or, perhaps you had medical insurance, but it wasn’t enough to pay for a sudden illness. You got the treatment that you needed, but a flawed medical system meant that you were facing more debt than you were likely to ever pay off in your life. Is it worth forcing your family to live with overwhelming debt due to an illness that you had no control over and medical bills that spiraled out of control?

Don’t think of bankruptcy as a moral decision, but just as a tool you can use. If you want to use it, make sure you know what steps to take.