I Have Gone Through All My Savings and Gambled to Try to Stay Current on My Bills. – Janet

“Dear Steve,

I am 75,000 in debt. All are credit cards. Last year I lost a job of 20 years but was able to get a job at about 20,000 less income. I was able to convince myself that I had my debt under control because I was able to pay it.

I have been fooling myself and now have gone through all my savings to stay current. In the meantime I realized that I was becoming more desperate and although I have always liked to gamble I now find I am gambling more, hoping to get money to help.

I have raised 3 children by myself so I would say half my debt is related to their needs but the rest is gambling. This month will be the first month that I will not be able to pay most of my bills(credit cards) My income allows me to keep curent on living expenses. I have never considered bankruptcy but I am so stressed out .

Yet I can’t seem to make that step. I always paid my bills and had good credit. I don’t know if they would even forgive some of this debt since it is related to gambling. So that also stresses me out. After I pay my normal bills and food I have about 200.00 left over. What do you suggest? I can’t even get a second job due to the economy.

Should I consider bankruptcy?


Dear Janet,

Rest assured that I will do what I can to help you through this situation.

Do You Have a Question You'd Like Help With? Contact Debt Coach Damon Day. Click here to reach Damon.

I’m not at all surprised that your gambling brain kicked in a bit as things got tough. What you describe is almost classic progression through the three stages of gambling addiction.

  1. The Winning Phase
    The person starts gambling as a social pastime, experiences the euphoria of winning and this fuels further gambling behaviour.

  2. The Losing Phase
    In this phase the gambler starts to lose control and becomes impulsive. He tries to win back his losses. If losses accumulate, he will lie and cover up to escape detection.

  3. The Desperation Phase
    At this phase, life is out of control as losses become unmanageable. Gamblers feel powerless, remorseful and desperate. Source
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I think that we are at the point where desperation and wishful thinking meet reality. It is an uncomfortable junction but one that must always be crossed to reach the other side.

Your instincts are correct, bankruptcy is certainly worth exploring. The questions you have and the concerns about part of the debt being related to gambling can be answered for free by a local bankruptcy attorney. Call up and asked to schedule a free bankruptcy consultation.

The gambling issue aside, bankruptcy is the most logical solution in your situation. Without any replacement income there is a reduced expectation that with the reduction in income that you would be able to afford a continued repayment plan.

The second issue is the pursuit of gambling. On one hand you probably talked yourself into increasing your gambling activity so you could magically find a way out of the mess. Gambling also gave you an emotional escape during a difficult part of your life and that allowed you to reduce your stress and relax. That relief is not going to be available as your credit cards are closed down.

While bankruptcy can address the numerical debt issue, it can’t relieve you of the addictive burden you carry from gambling. For that you will need to seek treatment. If you are willing to admit that you have a gambling addiction and you want help for it, I suggest at least attending a local Gambler Anonymous meeting for support.

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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