Book Review: When You Have to File for Bankruptcy

When You Have To File For Bankruptcy: Step-by-step Instructions to Take Control of Your Financial Future

By Matt Pelc

Published July 2008

Atlantic Publishing Company

288 pp.

ISBN 1-601-38209-X

Reviewed September 15, 2008

Bankruptcy is considered one of the more frightening words in the English language, implying financial ruin and personal failure to an extent that few people would dare to approach it unless they had no other hope. Matt Pelc’s “When You Have to File for Bankruptcy” does a remarkable job of taking that fear away from its readers, working past the mythos of the process and providing some genuinely practical advice.

Pelc’s book is a step-by-step analysis of the bankruptcy proceedings, beginning with a look at how you found yourself in this situation and asking if this is the right course of action. If it is, he then takes you through the paperwork you will need to collect before speaking to an attorney and the extensive forms a case requires. He encourages that you have access to the Internet while reading, and there are several helpful links available if you want to use his book as the manual for your own filing.

The most noticeable aspect of this book is the almost comforting tone Pelc takes. He seems aware that anyone who picks up this book is likely in serious financial trouble, repeatedly assuring them that he is not going to point any fingers at them for being in the situation. He also doesn’t try to overwhelm with the steps for rebuilding your life after the case is complete, breaking it into sections and offering simple suggestions such as changing your grocery habits and charting your daily expenses. Alternatives to bankruptcy are suggested, but he makes sure to point out that nothing is a cure-all and the problems cannot simply disappear by shuffling your assets around.

No one ever wants to go through the bankruptcy procedure, but if you find yourself in a bind “When You Have to File for Bankruptcy” serves as an invaluable reference to get it started. It educates you without making you feel stupid and makes a very conscious effort to separate the process from the natural tension and fear it produces.


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