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Personal bankruptcies are at an all-time high in our debt-laden society. But, is bankruptcy the right answer? Even though a debt-free future is the stuff daydreams are made of, a bankruptcy could end up costing you more in the long run. Besides which, recently enacted legislation has made it harder for people to shed debts by declaring bankruptcy. Before deciding bankruptcy is the solution to all your problems, you should sit down with a certified financial counselor to sort your debt out. If the advisor thinks you can realistically get out of debt within five years, you will be offered a debt management plan. If you agree to the terms offered by the credit counseling agency, you will pay the agency a lump sum and they will pay your creditors. If you are in so deep the counselor doesn't think you can dig out within five years, you may well be told to file for bankruptcy. However, keep in mind that bankruptcies will stay on your credit report for up to seven years and you will likely pay higher interest for any credit you take out after the bankruptcy. Chances are your situation is not as grim as it feels to you. Get a reality check by visiting the National Consumer Credit Foundation's Web site for information on credit counseling, filing bankruptcy, budgeting, and paying off bills.