Former NFL running back Jamal Lewis declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. He’s got 14 million and change in assets and 10 million in change in debts. He’s not getting much sympathy, which surprises me. Lop off a couple (okay, maybe more than a couple) zeros and the former Baltimore Raven is no different than most folks who are struggling financially these days. Imagine if the numbers were $140,000 in assets and $100,000 in debts. Or even $14,000 in assets and $10,000 in debts. How much more sympathetic would you be to his financial plight if this was the case?

Retired Baltimore Raven Jamal Lewis with financial woes

Like most folks, Jamal Lewis’ money is tied up in his assets. He doesn’t have enough cash on  hand to pay his monthly bills. He’s living from paycheck to paycheck (even if his monthly income IS more than a lot of folks’ annual income). He’s struggling financially, like so many other hardworking Americans.

Faced with creditors looking to foreclose and repossess, Lewis chose to find a way to force his creditors to work with him. It doesn’t matter if he buried his head in the sand the past few years while expenses exceeded income. It doesn’t matter if a financial adviser steered him wrong. It doesn’t even matter if he has spent the past 2-3 years running around in circles trying to get his creditors to work with him and banging his head against the wall (maybe THAT’S how he got those concussions!) All that matters is he’s now taken action to figure a way out of debt. He’ll be repaying his creditors at least a portion of what they’re owed; he’ll be on a budget and create a plan to restructure his finances. All great moves to make, no matter what.

Whatever avenue you choose, if your debts outweigh your assets, it’s time to take a long, steady look at your financial situation. Talk with a financial consultant and create a financial strategy for yourself and your family. Yes, bankruptcy may be an option, or strategic debt negotiation and credit restoration (like the services we offer to a small number of clients each month) may be on tap for you, or maybe  you just need a solid spending plan and financial plan so you have a roadmap of the best way to pay down your debts.

This month, I encourage you to look at the money stuff in detail. Knowledge IS power. And YOU have the power to create something magnificent and meaningful in your life. Go for it!