2007 was the year that the book “Maxed Out: Hard Times in the Age of Easy Credit” was published.
A book full of sobering facts and tales lighting up the raw-naked truth of how much we overspend via debt. Debt encouraged by the banks – because loaning money is far more profitable that accepting deposits.
Unfortunately this book came too late to save Eric Leppanen from personal bankruptcy.
Eric was part of the corporate ‘Matrix’ – a world in which you give your all for years to a business you don’t own but ultimately find yourself outside with a cardboard box quicker than you can refill your coffee cup.
Eric gave 16 years of his life to the Matrix while at the same time raking up credit card debt – a combination that is common among people within the rat-race as comfort buying always dulls the fear of not being in control of your main income. Eric worked for a bank so he thought his credit card spending was a kind of in-the-field research, reporting back to his managers with ideas on how to entice people to get more credit.
“I had, like, amazing credit, plus they were giving them out like candy,” he said.
In 2009 it was Eric’s turn to be laid off which could have been okay if not for the $60,000 he accumulated in credit card debt. As you would expect with no job and a high-interest loan of $60,000 this part of Eric’s life ended in bankruptcy.
But it doesn’t end badly for Eric and his family.
Eric took the challenge of being in control of his life and started his own business which is a home cleaning service – aNeatNook.com and by night creating and selling his art.
Currently his business brings in half of what he earned in the corporate world but he feels healthier, happier and more connected to his community.
For Eric things are looking up – he has his own business now that he enjoys, a second income through art, he can provide for his family and his future is in his control. Eric is a shining example that sometimes good comes from a bad situation.
The image at the beginning of this post has an interesting story and shows the creativity of Eric. “Indebted States of America” is an artistic tribute to the boom years of the early 2000s made up of 169 credit cards Eric used to rake up $60,000 of debt. The stars are 50 quarters.
Eric’s 5 Tips to help you through bankruptcy
1. Your friends and family will support you, do not isolate yourself during the process.
2. Work with an advisor or lawyer to get advice, education on the laws and your rights
3. Analyze, cut expenses and set a detailed monthly budget and stick to it
4. After the initial shock, try to maintain a positive attitude and welcome the fresh start
5 Pay your bills and begin to rebuild your credit after the dust settles