I’m in Debt Because of Too Much Fish. – Michael


“Dear Steve,

I’ve had a hellish trip through misery and desperation the past few years. In 2006, I experienced a health condition and illness from heavy metals and mercury through extreme consumption of fish and seafood since beginning to eat them more frequently in 1997. In Jan 2007, I had to leave my established sales career because of the health issues. In Sep 2007, My wife abandoned and subsequently divorced me in Dec 2007 because of the job and health issues. In Nov 2007, I had to relocate back to GA and begin staying at my Mom’s apartment for support. I went into a financial meltdown due to the disastrous downturn in the economy and lost all equity in my house and was finally only able to sell it after 18 months and only for what I owed and the realtor commissions.I have struggled with employment prospects ever since leaving my career in Jan 2007.
Currently, in 2009, I’m still at my mother’s place and struggling to pay credit card bills and an IRS tax debt from defaulting on a 401k loan to pay part of my divorce settlement.

Outside of giving up and just throwing up my hands in complete and utter failure I’m not sure what to do. Since my employment prospects are tough now and I’ve been given a small unemployment assistance check, I’m thinking of declaring bankruptcy and eliminating the $37,000 in credit card debt currently at an average 7.5% rate. There will still be money owed to a family member and the IRS debt of $5400?

Is this a reasonable option for me to consider, I have about $82k in retirement accounts total.


Dear Michael,

Your story certainly does not sound like a lot of fun to have lived through. I’m worried that this has been a downhill journey to this point and without a plan to change the situation and alter your path, tomorrow will look a lot like yesterday.

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Getting back on your feet will help you tremendously. While not this week or this month, once we resolve the financial situation you will move out of Mom’s apartment at some point in the near future. And once you can see a light moving forward, your old drive for sales will slowly return as well. When every day feels dark and depressing, there is nothing to get excited for.

While you see whatever is to come next for you as an utter failure, I don’t see it that way. Often the hardest thing you can do is to accept responsibility for your situation and take action to change it. That is not the picture of a failure.

You’ve got a real big priority debt in the IRS, that debt isn’t going away, so what we need to do now is address the other debts in such a way that it can remove the cloud over your head, the weight on your shoulders, and leave you room to resolve the IRS debt and pursue success again.

Based on everything you’ve told me, there is no other reasonable solution other than going to talk to a bankruptcy attorney and discussing the elimination of your debts through bankruptcy.

Then you need to start your recovery in small steps. Go beat the bushes looking for a job, any job, I honestly don’t care what it is. Maybe you can get temp work. As part of your recovery here you need to get out and be busy.

As the financial situation is resolved with the bankruptcy and you start to bring some money in you will be able to start eliminating the IRS debt and that will make you feel really good.

As your optimism for tomorrow improves and you are feeling more confident about yourself and your future, then you will be able to return to a successful sales job.

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If you follow this plan, it will work out just fine for you. I believe in you. Just stay away from the fish and sushi, promise?


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

Steve Rhode

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