A lot of people assume that bankruptcy is the only way to get a clean start. In fact, for many years, it was the only way to really get a clean and fresh start. Yet there are some serious pitfalls of bankruptcy that you will need to think about.

First and foremost, you will have permanent damage to your credit report. For the next 10 years, you will have to deal with the fact that a bankruptcy is on your credit report. In addition, if you were to get into trouble financially again, you would not be able to file bankruptcy. Why do you think that bankruptcy filers get pelted with credit offers so quickly? It’s not because lenders suddenly love you, it’s because they realize that you cannot file for bankruptcy again for a long, long time.

If you are applying for jobs in sensitive industries, a bankruptcy can completely disqualify you for the position — even if you have a great career history! You could be the top applicant, but if you have that bankruptcy hanging over your head, your future employers might feel that you can’t handle pressure or money or even risk. This is not a good category to find yourself in at all.

If you think that your bankruptcy will be kept a secret, you might want to think again: bankruptcy is actually public knowledge. This means that anyone that’s curious enough to look into you will know that you filed bankruptcy. Even if you’re just trying to date casually, be careful: today’s dating singles are looking into people more than ever before. As one woman put it, “You have to know where all the bones are buried, because if you get married they become your bones too!”

There has to be something that you can do if you want to avoid bankruptcy. Thankfully, there is: you can go with debt consolidation or debt settlement. Let’s cover both of those here quickly.

Debt Consolidation

This usually comes in two different flavors: debt consolidation agreements, and debt consolidation loans. An agreement is simply what your creditors will agree to that lets you combine everything into one monthly payment, and then the payment gets disbursed to different lenders. This can be good if you can get all of your creditors to cooperate with it. If you’re not good at negotiation, you can have another company handle this for you. They have the expertise to make sure that you get the results you’re looking for.

On the other hand, you also have debt consolidation loans. These are great loans that will basically let you pay off all of your debts, and then turn around and pay the debt consolidation loan. You might think, “Gosh, no more debt!” but there are some benefits to this track as well. For starters, the monthly payment will be lower because you’re not paying high interest rates. This can be something very promising, and you should definitely think about it.

Debt Settlement

This is a good option if you’re trying to get some relief. If you have steady income but you just need a little help, an outside company can help you settle part or all of your debts. You would then owe less money, which means you could put out more money to bring all of your debts down in short time.

Which option is best? It just depends on the money you have coming in, as well as the type of debts that you have. If you find that you just can’t get relief from any of these other options, you might want to stop and actually talk with a bankruptcy attorney to see your next steps. Your future is too important to leave it to chance!