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Living BK -- a look at life after bankruptcy 2

Updated on March 11, 2011

#2 The Company We Keep

Feeling as though you’re the only one going through this painful process? Guess again.

Who else has gone BK? The following list is a far cry from a debtor’s prison “wall of shame.” In fact, every person on this list is considered a success by 2010 and historical standards:

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Rembrandt Van Rijn
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • Mark Twain/Samuel Clements
  • PT Barnum
  • Henry Ford
  • Charles Goodyear
  • Milton Hershey
  • Henry John Heinz
  • Walt Disney
  • R. Buckminster Fuller
  • Stan Lee
  • Larry King
  • Merle Haggard
  • Francis Ford Coppola
  • Burt Reynolds
  • Donald Trump
  • Elton John.

Before you begin to think filing BK is an action taken only by famous men, consider this: Kim Basinger has also filed, along with Debbie Reynolds, Dorothy Hamill and Lorraine Bracco.

Enough of the celebrities. What about us everyday folk?

The National Bankruptcy Research Center had this to say about bankruptcy in the 21st century:

“By the end of the first decade of the new millennium, bankruptcy cases will have reached tens of millions in the US alone. More people will have filed bankruptcy than have acquired a college degree, retired, or have died of cancer.”

If it’s any consolation, individuals aren’t the only ones filing bankruptcy. Businesses are, as well – in record numbers. And so are banks. Though that is little consolation…because it doesn’t change our current situation. It just lets us know we are not alone.

In fact, for all of 2010, our numbers were growing. BK filings for 2010 were up 13.8% to 1,596,355. For 2009, the number was 1,402,816. Of the 1.5M+ number, 58,322 were for businesses. That means, BK filings on behalf of individuals stood at 1,538,033 in 2010.

Does that mean that number of people filed? The truth of the matter is, that number includes approximately 31.9% joint filings. In terms of actual individuals filing BK, the number explodes to over 2 million – 2,028,666, give or take a few thousand….

That looks more like numbers supporting an epidemic. Is there an end in sight?

If the figures for the first months of 2011 are any indication, the answer may very well be yes. BK filings through February 2011 are down 8% compared to the same time period of 2010.

Does this mean the economy is stabilizing? Perhaps. And with this hitting of bottom, it just might mean it’s going to be a little easier to get our footing and restart our lives.

Just to be thorough in this look at the BK stats, let’s put a little geographic spin on things. Nevada ranks as the #1 state for filings, with about twice the national rate. Georgia, Tennessee and California round out the top four. The states with the fewest filings are Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Vermont, South Carolina, Wyoming, New York and Montana. The District of Colombia fits into that list, as well.

So there you have it. You and I certainly are not alone in our current financial malaise. We have over 2 million brothers and sisters from 2010 alone.

Perhaps in 2012, we’ll have a chance to be heard….


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