Your Debt Problems Won’t Be Saved By The Man Of Steel

21 Aug Your Debt Problems Won’t Be Saved By The Man Of Steel

I was always a fan of The West Wing. In one episode, a priest speaks with Martin Sheen’s character, President Bartlet, and tells the following story about a man trying to escape a flood:

He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town. And that all the residents should evacuate their homes. But the man said, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.”

The waters rose up. A guy in a row boat came along and he shouted, “Hey, hey you! You in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety.” But the man shouted back, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.”

A helicopter was hovering overhead. And a guy with a megaphone shouted, “Hey you, you down there. The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I’ll take you to safety.” But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God will take him to safety.

Well… the man drowned. And standing at the gates of St. Peter, he demanded an audience with God. “Lord,” he said, “I’m a religious man, I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?” God said, “I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?”

We all know that to be true, right? You need to keep your eyes open for opportunities to make your life a better one. In the immortal words of the great sage Steve Perry, “Be good to yourself when nobody else will.” To bring it back to the Bible, “God helps those who help themselves.”

That’s why a recent story makes me fearful. You see, there was this family in Maryland. Good people, they’d lived in the house for a long time. But circumstances overtook them and the home fell into foreclosure. As they looked for packing boxes in the attic they came across a copy of the first issues of Action Comics – the first appearance of Superman, valued at about $200,000.

Elated, the family (who wants to remain anonymous) will be able to save their home and live a happy life. It’s a terrific story, and one that’s gotten a ton of press lately. Everyone loves a happy ending, right?

I’m happy for these people, really I am. But it makes me wonder how many other homeowners will ignore their pending homelessness and opt instead to start looking for stuff to sell on eBay.

I’ve personally sold a lot of my junk on eBay – old cell phones, printers and the like – but I never went into the transaction thinking I’d make a killing. Back when I was hip-deep in my own bill problems I looked at every possible solution – not simply the one that I hoped would pay off. Had I done so, I would have been taking an unacceptable gamble with my own future.

If you’re reading this article in the hopes that you’ll gain some insight into the right way to end your debt problems then you’re in the right place. Sort of. I can’t tell you what to do, or which solution is the right one for you. What I can tell you, though, is that you need to investigate each and every possible solution. That starts with calling the creditor directly and ends with calling a lawyer. You’ll definitely want to keep all the balls in the air and work on each potential answer at the same time so you don’t waste your efforts, but you definitely do not want to rely on some sense of false hope that a saviour will appear.

Don’t wait for Superman to come save you from your debt problems. Chances are, the Man of Steel has other things to do. But if you take the time and effort to investigate and review your options then chances are very good that you’ll find a solution that works for you.

Photo credit: fengschwing (Flickr).

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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.
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