Please help me to choose a right path
I'm new to gambling help forum but i'm glad that I am here. Better late than Never :)
I would like to share my story here in an anticipation that one of the Councillors or forum members might be able to point me in the right path.
I have migrated to Australia 11 years ago, as all migrants i worked hard to make my living and found a respectable job within a reputable organisation in 2015. At the beginning of my employment , I was a contractor earning close to 150K year and I was single who barely required 2000$ month to survive (my age=27). More savings with no proper understanding about money management, I started online sports betting for fun . I wouldn't call this as an addiction at that stage but gambling activity kept me occupied during my leisure time. Banks increased my credit limits based on my income to be precise I had two credit card accounts worth 40K each. By the end of 2016 i got into a relationship which lasted for almost a year until the end of 2017. All of a sudden my relationship breakdown increased my gambling activity as I started to feel relaxed and forgot all my relationship issues when I'm gambling. My gambling problem extended from online sports betting to visiting Casino to invest on table games. Within weeks I started loosing all my savings on gambling and started using credit cards to further fund my gambling addiction. Just to let you know how stupid i'm, within two months i have depleted my two 40k limit credit cards and applied for two unsecured personal loans in an anticipation to pay back my credit cards with the loan (credit card cash advance interest rate was very HIGH). This was the biggest mistake i did to borrow additional loan money without addressing my gambling issue in the first place. So by Jan 2018 my total debt amount = $140K.
I feel ashamed of myself as i knew how hard i worked to setup myself in a good position in a beautiful country and suddenly i felt like i have lost everything. I'm not sure if it's my luck or not, my company decided to reward me with an ongoing position (annual salary of $80K+super). This move added to my debt problems as i no longer earn what i was earning as a contractor. In June 2018 i have contacted a financial planner to get me out of the financial problems but based on my current annual income the Councillor suggested that my only option would be to file for Bankruptcy. I just walked off from the counselors office without any further action as i was completely distressed. 2 months of gambling caused me a whole world of grief.
Since June 2018 my income is barely enough to just payoff interest on the amounts borrowed from the banks. I requested for financial hardship from the banks for sometime but after few months banks realized my minimum amount payments ($200 a months towards each account) wouldn't just enough to payoff the debt. One after one banks started to handover my account to the debt collection agency and defaulted my credit history. In early 2019 i got married and my wife is a dependent so i am not earning enough to pay towards any of my debts. Now I'm dealing with debt collectors every day of my life with no proper answer for when i can get out of my debts (Currently 160k worth debt and interest is still being charged by the collection agency. I have tried to contact the debt collection agency for settlement on some of my accounts for example if i can pay 50% of my debt to settle. (I read somewhere that these collection agencies buy the debt from the bank for so cheap price and they add interest to make profits). Unfortunately my collection agency said they can only offer 5-10% discount which wouldn't be much off considering the amount of debt i owe.
Now I am planning to leave my ongoing employment and start contracting again so i can earn more which at least gives me an opportunity to pay off some section of my debts (30k year). If i pay 30k a year it would take me almost 5years of my life from here just to clear my debts and buying a house is almost a dream form me for next 6-7 years. If i'm being honest apart from the money i lost i can't mentally deal with the pain gambling has caused me. I am staying away from family and friends as they kept asking me about my plans for buying a home (they don't know about my debt). I am not sure whether i should ask anyone who is reading this to provide a suggestion or should i just be happy at least i was able to share my pain with you all!
If anyone experienced similar kind of situation please advise if bankruptcy is a best choice for me to consider? (this option at least gives me an option to have a fresh start in 3 years time when i discharge from it) or should I move to contracting and pay the debts for next 5-7 years? (which won't help much to my default credit rating ).
Please advise if you can and thank you for your time reading my story.