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Chapter 7 bankruptcy issues: Changes in the debt landscape

Back in 2008, the banking and housing industries experienced a crisis that thrust the country into the Great Recession. Over the last 10 years, consumers' spending habits changed in response to it. For many Texas consumers, that meant filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy as they experienced financial hardships.

It took several years for the country to recover, and many Texas residents learned invaluable lessons when it comes to finances. Even so, the overall amount of debt that Americans carry has not really changed that much. In fact, research indicates that people tend to have around 5 percent more debt now than when the country's financial crisis began, but the distribution of that debt has changed.

For instance, student loan debt has skyrocketed in the last 10 years as millennials reached college age and many other people went back to school in an attempt to improve their job prospects. More people are buying vehicles and financing them for longer periods than used to be available. Fortunately, mortgage loans appear to be handled more reasonably now, but credit card debt continues to be an issue for many families. For the first few years, credit card balances dropped, but thereafter they picked back up again as the economy began to recover and consumers gained more confidence.

There is an old saying that says, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." This could be said about the amount of debt that consumers had between when the Great Recession began and now. One thing that does appear to have changed in the last 10 years is the perception of Chapter 7 bankruptcy. People no longer seem to view it as "taboo." Instead, people tend to take advantage of this debt relief option more often than they used to in the past, which may be the one of the best outcomes of the recession since fewer people feel the need to drown under overwhelming debt.

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