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How bankruptcy-proof are you? Find your color.

Every day, 4,200 Americans declare bankruptcy. It’s a stressful experience, but it doesn’t happen out of the blue. There are warning signs along the way. Joan Feeney and Theodore Connolly, authors of “The Road Out of Debt: Bankruptcy and Other Solutions to Your Financial Problems,” have developed a color-coded alert system similar to the government's Homeland Security advisory system. What’s your bankruptcy color?

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You've run out of money to pay bills. A car has been repossessed or your home foreclosed on. You're in the red zone – and out of options.

Illustration by Jake Turcotte / The Christian Science Monitor

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1. Red: You’re bankrupt

There’s no money to keep current with bills or get back a foreclosed home or repossessed car. Your financial situation has deteriorated so much that you’re just falling further and further behind. "A lot of people who have filed for bankruptcy did not understand how bad their financial situation was until the red-level emergencies occurred,” says Ms. Feeney, who is also a bankruptcy judge in Massachusetts.

If this describes you, get informed on the the bankruptcy process. The US Courts have an informative website. Also, find an attorney who can help. (One source for lawyers is through TotalBankruptcy.com.) There’s just one solution for your situation: bankruptcy.

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