A recent report by a reputable financial strategy and investment research firm finds that many Americans are ignoring their responsibility to manage their money. Whether by not logging-in to their checking account’s online statements or putting aside letters from the bank or credit card, one in five of us are intentionally not paying attention to our money, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. Come folks, one in five? What are we doing out there? We know that for many people, just talking about money in today’s conditions introduces stress. Personal finances are a hot topic in divorce court and never seem to rank in priority above Sunday football, the kids' soccer games or Dancing With the Stars. And eventually, the arguments stop solely because the topic is never introduced. Like dogs being slapped on the snout, we simply train ourselves to not discuss finances, especially when there are not many of them to talk about. As a result, things just get worse. Then, it all comes to a head when some sort of serious notice shows up in the mail. Or the phone rings at an odd time. The report went on to say that even those of us who report checking in our accounts are doing so at a more infrequent rate. The number of people saying they have used their bank’s Web site went down from 59 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2010. A press release on Javelin’s Web site summarized the situation rather bluntly in a statement by the company’s founder. “The prolonged economic downturn has made money tight in millions of American households and caused the rise of a nation of ‘cautious consumers.’ But contrary to what many may think, millions of consumers are monitoring their finances less – not more,” said James Van Dyke, President and Founder, Javelin Strategy & Research. “What you can’t see can hurt you, and Americans need to pull their heads out of the sand. Based on our research, personal finance management tools can help consumers regain control and confidence in challenging economic times.” It is not at all an understatement to call these findings alarming. Countless personal bankruptcies could have been avoided or made much, much easier had people reacted to their financial situations more proactively. Ignoring problems does not make them go away, especially when talking about money. (Hello? Interest rates?) Folks, this is exactly how consumers lose cars to repossession, earn credit problems, accumulate late fees, receive higher interest rates, get assessed penalties and bounce checks. Yes, many bankruptcies are the result of sudden, unforeseen financial emergencies and medical cost commitments. However, many are not. When it comes to protecting your finances through bankruptcy, the earlier you make the decision, the better. It allows people like us, who can help, to lessen the impact and streamline the process. Moreover, by watching your accounts regularly (read: daily), you start to recognize patterns in spending, when certain amounts leave your checking account, how checks are processed, what your 401k is doing and how any savings you have may be growing. All of these things help you become a smarter money manager, able to detect the slightest irregularity that may lead to trouble. Need a fresh start? Call the bankruptcy attorneys at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt. One call may change your life: 1-800-499-1818. We offer a free consultation at one of our six offices: Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilson, Greensboro, Garner or Wilmington.