Bankruptcy vs. Credit Counseling: What Should I Do?

Credit Counseling and bankruptcy are both ways to relieve the stress of debt. However, they are very different and it is important to understand both before making a decision as to which is best for you.

Credit counseling is a program designed to help those who are in a state of debt and cannot find a solution to their debt problems. They offer services that will allow you to work with a certified credit counselor to devise a plan that is tailored to your specific needs and goals. Credit counseling agencies often provide services for free and will help to educate you about how to avoid financial problems in the future by offering debt management classes or seminars. They do not erase your debt. Instead they work with you to budget money so that you can pay off the debt often times by debt consolidation. Collection will continue while using a credit counselor, however, in most cases companies who are owed money will try and work with you to help you payoff your loans. Credit counseling services often help you to reestablish credit after the loans are paid.

Bankruptcy is very different. It will completely clear your debt in most cases and you will no longer be hassled by collection agencies and their attorneys. There are two kinds of bankruptcy; the one that is right for you will depend on your situation. When filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy you are able to keep property that is mortgaged such as your house or car and are expected to repay debts in three to five years. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must give up all property and assets that you own. There are exceptions in some states for items such as work tools and household furnishings. Bankruptcy will certainly clear your debts and stop foreclosures and wage garnishments, however, you will be unable to establish credit for up to ten years. Filing bankruptcy can also be very expensive compared to credit counseling.

Take time and research credit counseling very carefully before deciding on bankruptcy as it can save your credit in the long run. Most people feel much better about themselves when they can pay off their debt and become educated about how to stay out of debt rather than filing bankruptcy.

Timothy Gorman is a successful Webmaster and publisher of He provides more debt relief, consolidation and credit counseling information that you can research in your pajamas on his website.