How Much Debt is Worth Filing for Bankruptcy?

If you’re reading this blog, we’d like to offer a glimmer of hope. What may seem insurmountable in the present can, and will, pass. That said, in the intricate world of personal finance, the question of how much debt is appropriate before considering bankruptcy is both complex and subjective. The decision to file for bankruptcy is a significant one, with profound implications for an individual's financial future. 


In this blog, we’ll give a brief overview of scenarios where filing for bankruptcy might be a prudent choice, and situations where alternative paths should be considered… 

Couple looking at debt report considering bankruptcy

The information is provided for educational and informational purposes only. Such information or materials do not constitute and are not intended to provide legal, accounting, or tax advice and should not be relied on in that respect. We suggest that You consult an attorney, accountant, and/or financial advisor to answer any financial or legal questions. 

Determining the Debt Threshold 

1. When Filing for Bankruptcy Makes Sense: 

Filing for bankruptcy becomes a logical option when the debt burden becomes overwhelming, and the individual cannot envision a realistic way to repay the accumulated debts in a timely manner. This is often the case when total debt surpasses a certain percentage of the individual's income, making monthly payments unmanageable. 
If creditors are pursuing legal actions, such as wage garnishment or asset seizure, bankruptcy may offer protection. It can put an immediate halt to these actions, providing a legal shield and breathing room to reevaluate financial strategies. 


Bankruptcy is usually a last resort solution, but sometimes a necessary one. If your debt is so extensive that it threatens long-term financial goals, such as homeownership or retirement savings, bankruptcy may be a strategic move that allows you to address the immediate crisis and embark on a journey of financial recovery. 

2. When Alternative Options Should Be Explored: 

If the debt level is such that it can be reasonably managed with disciplined budgeting and repayment plans, filing for bankruptcy might not be necessary. In these cases, exploring debt consolidation or negotiating with creditors may provide a more practical solution. 
Another consideration to keep in mind: Filing for bankruptcy often involves the liquidation of assets to satisfy creditors. If you have significant assets you wish to preserve, other debt management strategies may be more suitable to protect your financial standing. 
If your financial hardship is temporary, such as a job loss or medical emergency with a clear recovery plan, it may be more prudent to explore short-term solutions like negotiating with creditors or utilizing emergency funds. The reason for this can be summarized with one word: Creditworthiness. 


The Impact of Bankruptcy on Creditworthiness 

1. Bankruptcy and Credit Scores: 

Bankruptcy can have a severe negative impact on credit scores (an average of 7-10 years). It remains on credit reports for a significant period, affecting the ability to secure loans or credit at favorable terms. 
While the immediate impact is adverse, you can rebuild your credit over time. Responsible financial behavior, such as timely bill payments and prudent credit management, will contribute to gradual credit score improvement. 

2. Strategies for Rebuilding Credit After Bankruptcy: 

If, after careful consideration, you determine that bankruptcy is your best option, you can eventually rebuild your credit by using secured credit cards — albeit, responsibly. These cards require a security deposit but offer an opportunity to demonstrate creditworthiness. 
Of course, consistent, timely payments on remaining debts and bills are crucial for rebuilding credit. This positive financial behavior gradually offsets the impact of bankruptcy on credit scores. Whether you set up automatic bill payments, virtual reminders, and/or create a spreadsheet to manage your payment schedules, staying on top of your bills will very effectively help reduce – and ultimately resolve – your debt moving forward.  


Conclusion: Navigating the Financial Crossroads 

Determining the appropriate debt level for considering bankruptcy is a nuanced process that involves careful evaluation of both financial and personal factors. It's essential to recognize bankruptcy as a powerful but consequential tool that should be employed judiciously.  


Seeking professional advice, such as consulting with financial counselors or bankruptcy attorneys, can provide you with the insights needed to make informed decisions tailored to your unique circumstances. Ultimately, finding the right balance between addressing immediate financial challenges and preserving long-term financial well-being is the key to navigating the complex landscape of debt and bankruptcy. 


If you’re interested in learning about JG Wentworth’s Debt Resolution Program give us a call at (888) 505-1794 . We’ll help you understand the overall process so that you can make an informed decision about whether our Debt Resolution Program is your best alternative to bankruptcy for you. 

Sources Cited: 


 O'Neill, C., “Do I Have Enough Debt to File for Bankruptcy?” AllLaw. April 25, 2022. 


Canaan Suitt, J.D., “What Options Do Creditors Have if the Debtor Doesn’t Pay?” Super Lawyers. January 13, 2023. 


Brown, J. & Tarver, J., “How Long Does A Bankruptcy Stay On Your Credit Report?” Forbes. Jul 23, 2021. 


O'Shea, B.  & Schwahn , L., “6 Ways to Rebuild Credit.” NerdWallet. Oct 26, 2023. 


Segal, T., “What Is a Secured Credit Card? How It Works.” Investopedia. May 18, 2023.