In an earlier blog, I told the stories about a dozen or so great people of the past, each of whom experienced bankruptcy at some point in their lives, coming out on the other side to achieve new personal and business success. In reality, there are hundreds of stage and screen stars, music greats, politicians, and sports figures who have filed bankruptcy in our country.
The interesting thing to me about all these star stories is that the reasons they got into money troubles are basically the same reasons I hear day in, day out in my office from ordinary folks. Latoya Jackson, singer, songwriter, and actress, for example, filed bankruptcy as the result of a divorce, which is something that drives many people to the brink financially.
Sometimes the financial problems came because of a career downturn. Cindy Lauper, the Grammy Award-winning singer and stage and TV actress, talks about an important record album “going lead”, contributing to the money problems that ended in her declaring bankruptcy. Heavyweight boxer Leon Spinks went from being world champion to being homeless, all due to a series of career reversals. I see the results of career downturns every day, and hear the stories of clients whose positions were eliminated or who got the short end of the stick in a corporate downsizing.
In the case of country music star George Jones, who recorded more songs than any country singer in history, it was a combination of his drinking problems and divorce that led him to bankruptcy. Dorothy Hamill, the Olympic figure skating champion, bought the Ice Capades show but failed to make a profit and was forced to sell the business and file bankruptcy, while Kim Basinger, Academy-award winning actress, had a business failure in a $20 million tourist attraction venture in Georgia. On a smaller scale, to be sure, many of the people who come to me for debt help in Indiana are entrepreneurs who took business risks that, despite their best efforts, simply didn’t pan out.
What I would like you to take away from this is this: All of the well-known people I’ve mentioned here filed bankruptcy, true. But then, they got on with their lives! If people that well off could get into financial trouble – well, it could happen to anybody. And, if that’s the case, maybe you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself.