What Actually Happens If You Go Bankrupt?

What Actually Happens If You Go Bankrupt?

At some point in our lives, we have all thought about what would happen if we go bankrupt. After all, bankruptcy is a scary scenario, and we work everyday to avoid it.

Just last year, approximately 5,695 cases of bankruptcy were filed in Malaysia. This is a slight decrease in cases compared to the 6,554 cases that were reported in 2021. 

You might be thinking that a decrease is a good thing,  but this means over 15 people are still declared bankrupt everyday! It is a constant reminder that bankruptcy is a very real threat to your finances, and that you should strive to avoid such a situation as best as possible.

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal process taken when a person or business is unable to repay outstanding debts. In Malaysia, one can be declared bankrupt for unpaid debts over RM100,00 where no attempt has been made to pay it back for six months.

All the property belonging to this person will be vested (given to) to the Director General of Insolvency (DGI). DGI has the responsibility to realise (sell or dispose) all these belongings.

The guideline for declaring someone bankrupt includes:

  • Unable to pay debts which amount to at least RM100,000.
  • Debt involved (which is at least RM100,000) can be placed a market value, which means the debt amount is in a liquidated sum – or can be determined with a value in RM.
  • There has been a period of six months default for the debt before a person can be declared bankrupt.
  • The individual must have resided in Malaysia for at least one year.

In Malaysia, the most common cause of bankruptcy is an individual’s failure to repay their debts or loans. This can range from anything between home loans, bank loans, vehicle loans, personal loans, business loans, etc. 

What happens if you are declared bankrupt?

Of course, everyone knows that going bankrupt is bad. Here’s a step by step guide of what happens. 

These include:

  • Having all your private assets, such as your car, house, and other belongings, placed under the administration of the DGI. They will be sold off to pay for the amount that you owe to your creditors.
  • Your bank accounts will be frozen and a credit limit of not more than RM1,000 will be imposed on bankrupt individuals.
  • Individuals who have been declared bankrupt will not be allowed to travel overseas without written permission from the DGI.
  • Bankrupt individuals are not allowed to work in certain fields, such as banking, accounting and medicine.
  • Bankrupt individuals will be blacklisted from operating or running their own business.

How to prevent yourself from going bankrupt

Here are a few key rules to live by to avoid such a predicament.

  • Live and spend within your means

This is simple but invaluable advice. You do not need to save or invest every single cent you earn. However, you do need to understand your income and how much you can afford to spend.

Based on your income, determine how much you need to spend for your bare necessities. After that, set aside a bit more of your cash for investments and savings. Then you can spend the remainder on your wants and desires.

If you are planning to take out a loan, make sure that the monthly commitment does not go beyond what you can afford on your income. Bank Negara recommends that Malaysians do not exceed a Debt Service Ratio (DSR) of 60%.

For example, if you take home RM3,000 a month in salary (i.e. after deducting EPF, taxes and SOCSO), you should not be spending more than RM1,800 (ie. 60% of RM3,000) on paying down your debt. As mentioned previously, inability to repay debts is one of the major factors that can cause bankruptcy.

When buying goods that are not necessary for living, try to limit credit card usage as it usually comes with higher interest rates. Options such as Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) can be helpful, but can also be a huge liability if you do not keep up with your payments.

  • Keep track of your spending and saving

You can start by making sure that every debt is paid off in time every month. You can also try using our iMoney Budget Calculator to find out what’s really going on with your money. 

Remember! Making minimum payments every month will not be enough to get you out of debt. The minimum monthly payment is the lowest amount you can pay per month to remain in good credit standing.

People who pay only the minimum monthly payments will end up taking longer to pay off their balances and will likely end up paying higher interest expenses compared to consumers who pay more than the minimum. Your best bet is to pay credit card balances in full and on time as this will prevent you from having to pay any interest or late fees.

  • Get professional help

Managing your finances properly is crucial to leading a fulfilling and stress-free life. You may not like the idea of having someone help you with your financial planning, but it pays to have an open mind when it comes to these kinds of things. Not everyone is a financial expert, so if you are not sure on how to proceed, there is no harm or shame in seeking help.

Regardless, you should always be open to keep learning so that you can make a more well-informed decision. Don’t fall for dodgy schemes or taking up loans with suspicious companies that are not licensed by the authorities.

Remember, if you hit a wall, feel free to seek advice from a professional body. If you are having financial issues, don’t be afraid to see a bank officer to discuss how you can more comfortably repay your debts. You may also refer to AKPK (Agensi Kaunseling & Pengurusan Kredit), as they provide a free counselling service to help those who are struggling to pay off their debts.

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