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Although unexpected and unpaid medical bills remains the leading cause of all Chapter 7 bankruptcies filed in the U.S.today, credit card debt closely rivals as a strong contender.

For anyone contemplating consulting with a bankruptcy attorney within the coming New Year, the approaching holiday season may appear less than festive. As finances are already stretched, those with availability to credit cards may find themselves in a vicarious situation as the holiday season often entices shoppers into financial overindulgence.

About.com, an IAC company dedicated to assisting its online members with helpful advice, including personal finance, reminds those already in financial disarray to exhibit a measure of self-discipline to maintain a manageable limit when it comes to credit card purchases.

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If you are currently considering debt relief through the liquidation of personal assets by petitioning for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, federal law mandates that you first seek pre-bankruptcy credit counseling and post-filing debtor education.

For all states, only excluding Alabama and North Carolina, The United States Trustee Program, under the jurisdiction of The U.S. Department of Justice, sanctions a number of approved credit counseling and debtor education programs. These non-profit organizations are available to the public through agency advertising confirming their association with the Trustee Program.

To determine which agency may be the best option for you, consult with your qualified bankruptcy attorney to review the list of approved credit counseling providers available online or through the bankruptcy clerk's office within your assigned district.

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The decision to petition the U.S. Courts for protection under Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a highly personal decision. For those deciding to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, choosing to move forward often stems from dire financial necessity in order to alleviate insurmountable debt through the “liquidation” or sale of a debtor's nonexempt property, with all proceeds scheduled to be distributed to awaiting creditors but at what cost publicly?

The stigma or deviation from the societal norm may be one of the leading reasons an individual may shy away from seeking financial solutions under Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Concerns that family, friends or business associates may ostracize or view them in a different light often adds to the stress of financial difficulties.

Although the bankruptcy stigma varies widely, there may still be some truth to the matter and any individual contemplating bankruptcy should first consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to determine whether seeking Chapter 7 protection is the best financial recourse.

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Once the leading consumer demographic, the Baby Boomer generation is now stepping aside as the Millennial generation slides into the number one position as the reigning U.S. consumer demographic.

According to NBC News, not since 1947 has the U.S. experienced such an expansive shift in demographic hierarchy. The Millennials, or those with an average age of 22 years, now represent a higher concentration than any other age group. Although Generation X may still have something to say about the advancement, statistically it is the Millennials who rank the strongest of existing generations.

One then may wonder what the future holds for the exiting Baby Boomer generation. For those born between 1946 to 1964, it is projected that the last members of this once influential generation will turn 65 by December 31, 2029. It is projected that at that time, 80 million will be eligible for Medicare and Social Security as they enter into retirement.

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As per iStockAnalyst, an Oregon based online subsidiary of Wall Street Tools, LLC, Fitch Ratings recently reported that consumer bankruptcy is expected to continue to decline throughout the remainder of 2014. Fitch Ratings, a global rating agency, attributes the decline to lower unemployment rates coupled with a recovering economy. Personal bankruptcy rates are expected to decline by eight to 10 percent, marking the fourth consecutive year of lower instances of personal bankruptcy protection petitions.

Although 2014's projected decline is not as significant as the notable 12.6 percent decline for 2013, Fitch reports that the trend is expected to hold steady as banks relax underwriting standards as a means to lessen the burden on the American consumer, as well as extending larger personal credit lines. The Fitch Ratings report also indicates that this downward trend could potentially impact the number of personal bankruptcies significantly.

This trend supports the lowest bankruptcy rate since 2007 and may be further contributed to a more “prudent” approach to personal consumerism. Fitch Senior Director Steven Stubbs believes that consumers are considerately more reluctant to adjust their Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI) by increasing the limit of personal credit available. Stubbs further attributes this to the lack of wage growth in the labor market, which is evident as consumer consumption rates continue to decline.

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