Alternatives to Bankruptcy
In some cases, bankruptcy may not be the best solution for you. You might have to risk non-exempt assets, your debts may be non-dischargeable, or you may not be eligible to file.
You might want to take other steps first. You could try to sell your valuable assets (like jewelry, cars, or watches) to pay off debts. Alternatively, you may want to ask your family if they are willing to help you. Of course, many people prefer not to involve family, especially if you can qualify for bankruptcy.
It's not a good idea to transfer credit card debt to a lower interest credit card: this will solve your problems temporarily at best. Credit card companies will fight to collect their money if you file for bankruptcy after transferring large debts to a new card.
You could refinance your home if you own equity in it, or you may be able to get a home-equity line of credit. If you choose this route, make absolutely certain you can afford the payments; if you can't, you may lose your home entirely. Consider carefully before you try to pull equity out of your house to pay creditors.
Tapping into your retirement plan is usually a bad idea. Pension plans are generally safe from bankruptcy, and you may be able to protect your pension or retirement money. However, if you borrow against your pension or retirement investments, your creditors can seize those funds during bankruptcy and you will incur tax penalties for a so-called "early distribution."