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Bankruptcy: I lost a huge amount of money in the stock market

Question: I lost a huge amount of money in the stock market and now I need to file for bankruptcy. I need to go bankrupt to save my house and get rid of bills from credit card companies and doctors and the hospital.

I got some stock tips on penny stocks from a friend who told me how much he made investing in penny stocks and I wanted to make money too so I invested in some penny stocks and I lost all my money and now the bills are mounting and my wife is threatening divorce. She’s angry because I had to sell her wedding ring to buy some stock in a company that I thought was a sure thing. They made some medical product that I thought the FDA would approve and I’d make some quick cash. The FDA never approved it.

I invested in a gold mining company, a solar panels company and a legal marijuana business. But they lost money and some even went bankrupt. Now that money is gone and I’m living on credit cards to buy food and I got cash advances to pay the mortgage, until I couldn’t do it anymore.

The worst part is that I could lose the house because I used our savings and 401 (k) to buy shares.

My wife said I shouldn’t use retirement funds to buy the penny stocks, but I thought these stocks were destined for serious profits. At least some of them should have been big winners, I thought. But pretty much all of them just lost value and are worth almost nothing now.

So I need some help straightening the whole mess out and getting out of debt and keeping my home from foreclosure becasue I feel like I was ripped-off by Wall Street. Can I file bankruptcy and keep my house even though I lost money in the stock market?

A.J. in Woodstock, GA

Answer: Many people lose money in the stock market. The fact that you lost money in the stock market buying shares of so-called “penny stocks” should not prevent you from filing bankruptcy. A frequent cause of bankruptcy is losing money “playing” the stock market.

Credit card debt and medical debt can be eliminated by filing a bankruptcy petition. In fact, most bankruptcy filers discharge credit card and medical debts.

Bankruptcy helps people keep their homes. If you are behind on your mortgage, you can use a chapter 13 to prevent a foreclosure. A chapter 13 will allow you to pay off any mortgage arrears thru a payment plan, usually over 5 years. So, for example, if you are behind 6 mortgage payments, a chapter 13 typically allows you to repay that amount over 5 years.

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