Article by Michael Berger
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The link above goes to a great article about different things that people should know. The article really addresses more general financial advise. However, I agree with the author that this advise arises from our experience with looking at the financial affairs of clients in bankruptcy. We see a lot of the same problem arise in many cases.
My own feelings are that every person needs to be careful about taking on debt. Keep in mind that taking on debt is borrowing, not only from the creditor, but from your future self. You don't know what situation your future self will be in.
Next, you have to consider what the "real world" is like out there. I believe in the Christian concept of "original sin," which means that all people are sinners. That doesn't necessarily mean every person is untrustworthy. Rather, it means that we Christians are surrounded by people who are not under the influence of God and must be very careful about what people in this world are capable of.
People who are scammers are experts and gaining your trust. Sometimes, they don't even realize they are doing it because it may be their company or bosses who are actually scammers, or they may simply be selling you a product that isn't right for you. Until I opened my law firm, I was naïve about that. I always thought that people were general good and that you could trust them until they proved otherwise. After what I have seen as a bankruptcy lawyer, I now take the opposite view.
You have to understand that nobody will look out for your interests for you. Even if you have dependable friends or parents, they will never understand your situation and mentality the way you do (or should). You have to first assume that people that want to loan you money are not acting in your best interests. Then if you are proven wrong after much thought and deliberation, go ahead and make a decision.
I strongly recommend going to reputable credit and financial credit counseling classes to learn how to make these decisions. Dave Ramsey has a good class that is given at many churches. However, although I was happy with the class myself, my girlfriend took his advise on a jewelry exchange and was ripped off by the exchange. Even when choosing a class, keep in mind that there are scammers and incompetents out there. You have to learn to use discretion.
I always suggest to my clients who are going through a life changing experience--using bankruptcy as a tool to get a fresh start--to find a good church and surround yourself with the kind of people you want to be like. You will become more like the people that are around you everyday. Find people of good discretion to talk to and be around and your own discretion will begin to improve.