What is bankruptcy?
May 7, 2024
Season 6 | Episode 5

What is bankruptcy?

Warning ... here there be dragons.

Bridget and Ryan are studying at the library, hoping to answer Maebinn’s question about bankruptcy. The duo discovers an epic fantasy storybook about a bankrupt prince and his dangerous and frustrating journey to declaring bankruptcy. There are a lot of tricky rules! They learn about the different types of bankruptcies for people and businesses, and why bankruptcy can sometimes give folks a financial fresh start but is still an option of last resort for those who can’t pay their debts. Along the way, they’ll also meet knights, princesses, wizards, and even some lawyer elves.

Tips for grownups listening to “Million Bazillion” with kids

Money Talks

After you listen to the episode, here are some questions you can ask your kid listener to see how much they learned about bankruptcy:

  1. Why might someone file for bankruptcy?
  2. What makes filing for bankruptcy so difficult?
  3. Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy have different ways to move someone out of debt. If you had to choose between the two, what might you choose?
  4. *Bonus* Not So Random Question: If you could travel into the future, what do you think they’d use for money?

Tip Jar

For listeners who want to keep learning more about bankruptcy, we’ve got ideas!

  • In this episode, we covered Chapters 7, 11, and 13 of bankruptcy. If you want to learn more about the different types of bankruptcies, check out this guide from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
  • To learn more about the history and evolution of bankruptcy laws in the U.S., read this article from Britannica Kids.
  • Keep an eye on the news — the next time you hear about a company filing for bankruptcy, discuss whether the company is liquidating (declaring Chapter 7) or reorganizing (Chapter 11).

Resources for Teachers

  • If you’re teacher who wants to teach your students about bankruptcy, check out these lesson plans from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, for grades 9 through 12.

Gimme Five

Thanks for listening to this episode! Do your kids have more questions about debt they want us to answer? Send them to us using this online form.

This episode is sponsored by Greenlight. Get one month free and earn $10 today when you sign up for Greenlight at greenlight.com/million.


RYAN: (HUSHED) Hey Bridget, check out this cool book on monster trucks.

BRIDGET: (WHISPERS) Shhh, we’re in a library, gotta keep your voice down.  

RYAN: (WHISPERS) Sorry but look at these trucks! Have you ever seen wheels so big?

PATRONS: Shhhhh!

BRIDGET: (WHISPERS) We’re supposed to be researching money topics for our money podcast.

RYAN: Ugh, fine. What books do you have there?

BRIDGET: Ummmmm… there’s no need to look at my books.

RYAN: Why not? If you got money books, I should look at your books, right?


RYAN: Wait a second, [READS] The Definitive Guide to Fed Chair Jerome Powell? Jay Powell’s Guide to Running the Federal Reserve? Chicken Soup for the Jay Powell soul?? Bridget, what is this stuff??

BRIDGET: These books are for the show.

RYAN: We’re not gonna do a show just on Jay Powell. You lie!


–Theme Music–

BRIDGET: (WHISPERS)  Welcome to Million Bazillion. I’m Bridget!

RYAN: (WHISPERS) And I’m Ryan! And We Help Dollars Make More Sense. 

BRIDGET: And ok, I’ll admit it, we both got distracted in the library looking at books that are off topic with today’s episode. Speaking of which, lemme play today’s money question so we can get started:

Maebinn: Hi Million Bazillion, my name is –


BRIDGET: (WHISPERS) Oh sorry, let’s move to a quieter part of the library with fewer people…




BRIDGET: Ok, here we are in the Economics section of the library. Pretty quiet here. Eerily so.

RYAN: Yeah, I think it’s safe to listen to that question now.

Maebinn: Hi, Million Bazillion. My name is Maebinn, and I’m from Wisconsin. My question is: what is bankruptcy? Thank you!

RYAN: Good question! Bankruptcy is a thing for people who don’t have enough money to pay their debts! Hope it never happens to you! Thanks for the question, Maebinn!


BRIDGET: Wait, there’s more to bankruptcy than just that! You’re right that it’s about debt. When a person or business owes so much money, they have no hope of paying it back, like, it’s really bad news bears, they might be able to “declare bankruptcy.” Bankruptcy is a legal process for people who are in financial trouble, so they have big money problems. It can feel scary but there’s a silver lining…it’s a fresh start. It’s supposed to help make people’s financial lives better, and to help them recover from hard times. 


RYAN: Hmmm. Bridget, this gives me an idea.



RYAN: Well, you haven’t even heard my idea.

BRIDGET: I already know what your idea is. (QUICKLY) You’re gonna suggest we buy a monster truck or something and rack up a bunch of debt and then go into bankruptcy to erase it! And we’re gonna get into a bunch of trouble with wacky characters and somehow end up getting chased by a monster truck at the end and barely make it out of the episode alive! No. I’m vetoing this idea. Not doing it!

RYAN: Ok…… what if I buy a big boat instead?

BRIDGET: You already bought a big boat on this show! We need to try modeling responsible financial behavior to our listeners for once! We’re gonna stay put in this empty wing of the library and read about bankruptcy and have a nice, chill episode.

RYAN: Ok, fine! We’re in the Economics section, they gotta have a book on bankruptcy somewhere in here.


BRIDGET: Let’s see- budgeting, bonds, banks, Ivan Boesky, … ahh, bankruptcy!  


BRIDGET: This one looks interesting. (READING TITLE) “The Bankrupt Prince: A Journey Through Debt and Back Again.”


BRIDGET: This doesn’t look like a boring economics book at all. It looks like a fantastical adventure tale of knights and princesses, wizards and elves, regal castles and dragons!

RYAN: Should we read it?

BRIDGET: It couldn’t hurt. We’ll crack open this book on bankruptcy… right after this.

–Asking Random Kids NOT SO Random Questions–

ANNOUNCER: And now it’s time for Asking Random Kids Not So Random Questions. Today’s question is: If you could travel to the future, what do you think they’d use for money?

RANDOM KIDS: “If I traveled into the future, I think they’d use boba pearls for money.” “They would use sort of future technology to like, send money.” “I think we will have projector funds, and it shows the money in your digital wallet.” “Holographic money.” “Glowing money. I think it would be more shiny and colorful.” “I think they’re use gold for money because they’d figure out how nature makes gold and then copy that.”

ANNOUNCER: That was Anele in Vancouver, Paige in Spokane, Max in New York City, Nora in California, Ian in Illinois, Rocco in Massachusetts, and Anya in Germany. This has been Asking Random Kids Not So Random Questions.

Part 1:

RYAN: And we’re back! Today on Million Bazillion, we’re at the library, answering the question: “What is bankruptcy?” And we’re about to read a book about it.

BRIDGET: (GRUNTING) It’s a heavy book, (BOOK SLAMS ON TABLE) but it looks like a pretty cool fantasy story. Are you ready? 

RYAN: You betcha!


BRIDGET: The Bankrupt Prince by J. Chesterton Lefitty the Third. Prologue. Once upon a time in a magical land, there lived a handsome prince who was about to inherit the throne of the vast Kingdom of Pooperton, when he suddenly discovered his financial situation wasn’t exactly what he thought it was.


PRINCE: What do you mean there’s no money left? I thought I was inheriting the throne and a bunch of money!

PRINCE’S ACCOUNTANT: (HOBBITY, BILBO-ESQUE) Um yes, Mr. Prince Marlowe, as your CPA, I must inform you that your gold room is bare. There’s kinda nothing to inherit… 

PRINCE: Well, this is a disappointment, to be sure. So give it to me straight. How much money do I have?

PRINCE’S ACCOUNTANT: Um….  negative 800 pieces of gold. 

PRINCE: I have negative money? Like less than zero money? How’s that possible?

PRINCE ACCOUNTANT: Well, turns out you owe money all across this magical land. You took out a loan for magic beans- that was an unwise investment, I must say. You took out a loan for that unicorn-drawn carriage. Various swords, you really like swords. And looks like you racked up some medical debt during the plague. 

PRINCE: I also lost an entire lung and two of my fingers. Bad plague. 

PRINCE ACCOUNTANT: Yeah, bad plague. Bad year, really.

PRINCE: I survived, though, which is what really matters.

PRINCE ACCOUNTANT: Yeah- you have your health, you have everything. But your hospital bills still need to be paid. Also, you’re way behind on the mortgage payments on the castle you live in. 


CREDITOR 1: (THROUGH THE DOOR) Open up, Price Marlowe! It’s us, your creditors! You owe me money for those swords!!

CREDITOR 2: And me, for fixing the castle bathroom and that wheel on your unicorn drawn carriage! We ain’t leaving until you pay us the money you owe!

PRINCE: Uh oh, this isn’t looking good! You’re my accountant, Lenny, what are my options here? 

PRINCE ACCOUNTANT: Well, seeing as how you are financially insolvent- that means you can’t pay the money you owe; I believe you’ll need to go on a journey… A journey to declare bankruptcy. 


PRINCE ACCOUNTANT: Which means enlisting the help of lawyers, to fight fearsome battles on land, sea, and in court, traveling through a boggy bureaucracy- that means like a mess of laws and rules and paperwork.

PRINCE: That does sound dangerous and perhaps boring. I’ll have to think about it.


CREDITOR 1: If you don’t open up this door, we’re gonna break it down! With our really sharp axes! 

PRINCE ACCOUNTANT: Ok, think on it, but don’t think too long. For now, let’s sneak out the back.



BRIDGET: That night, the prince talked it over with his wife, Princess Cecily- as they sat at one of those long tables with a ton of food, eating big turkey legs.

PRINCE: (DISGUSTED) Filing for bankruptcy. I can’t imagine anything more shameful! It would bring embarrassment on the respectful name of the Kingdom of Pooperton.

PRINCESS: (WAILING) Then what should we do, my sweet??

PRINCE: Well, to be fair, we may have made some financial decisions that didn’t quite turn out the way we’d hoped.

PRINCESS: Well, it’s mostly doctor bills from your plague treatments but yes, between that and your swords and my jewels, and those magic beans, we’re out of money! You are a brave knight, a wise and merciful ruler. Why not show yourself some mercy and give us a fresh financial start? We have no future without some sort of solution to our debt problems!   

PRINCE: (SIGHS) Hmm, maybe you’re right, Cecily.

PRINCESS: You know I’m right, my teddy bear.


PRINCE: You’ve no idea what I’d do without you by my side. My love for you burns brighter than a blacksmith’s flame, my dearest princess-


RYAN: Whoa whoa whoa, let’s just skip over the mushy stuff, ok?

BRIDGET: What the matter? The guy’s just being appreciative of his wife. This is part of the story. Let’s just read it.

RYAN: Nah uh! Nah uh! You know I don’t like the mushy, kissy, lovey-dovey type stuff! Let’s move on!

BRIDGET: Ok, you’re sorta old to not wanna listen to the romance part of any story, but whatever, we’ll skip past it. (READING) Gazing deep into his beloved’s eyes, the Prince whispered. 

PRINCE: I suppose I have no other choice. I’ll set out on my unicorn at dawn.

BRIDGET: End of Prologue…. Now, we move onto Chapter One. 


BRIDGET: The bankrupt Prince set out on the first leg of his journey, crossing the Bridge of Riverton and the River of Bridgerton, at one point realizing he had never been this far away from home. It was upon his arrival to the Village of Wizard Lawyers, that the prince’s journey began in earnest.

CHAPTER ONE LAWYER: (GANDALF-LIKE) Um, hello, may I help you? 

PRINCE: I’m looking to declare bankruptcy. 

CHAPTER ONE LAWYER: I must be honest. There’s not much going on here in Chapter One in terms of explaining bankruptcy.

PRINCE: Oh, what about Chapter 2?

CHAPTER ONE LAWYER: Oh, there’s some info in Chapters 1 through 6 of the bankruptcy code, but if you’re trying to file for bankruptcy, things really kick up a notch in Chapter 7. (WHISPERS) Pstt,  if you’re reading this book, just skip to Chapter 7. 

BRIDGET: Wow, I guess if the book says so, we should probably just skim through…


BRIDGET: (SKIMMING) Chapter Two, Prince leaves the village. Chapter three, the prince travels some more, narrowly avoids his creditors, chapter four- he sleeps but has nightmares about how much debt he owes, chapter 5- more traveling. Chapter 6 – eats lunch.


BRIDGET: Ahhh, here we are. Chapter 7! Subtitle to this chapter is: Bankruptcy for People or Businesses Who Aren’t Able to Make Any Monthly Payments on Their Debt. Or, Liquidation… (BREATH) The Prince finally arrived at a fortress guarded by ethereal and pale Elf Lawyers. 

PRINCE: Hello, I’m out of money and being hounded by my creditors, I’d like to file for bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, to be specific.

ELF LAWYER: (ETHEREAL) You’ve come to the right place. Here in Chapter 7, we will erase your debts–

PRINCE: Hey, I like the sound of that!

ELF: Because Chapter 7 is for people and businesses who don’t have other options!  They owe more than they can possibly repay. We offer them a way out.  

PRINCE: Great, sign me up!

ELF LAWYER: (ETHEREAL): But be warned! It comes at a price. With Chapter 7 bankruptcy, almost everything you own will be sold, to help pay off as much of your debt as possible. 

PRINCE: Even my pretty big sword collection? But I’ve spent years collecting each piece!

ELF LAWYER: We’re probably gonna have to liquidate those swords.

PRINCE: Liquidate my swords!?! You’re going to turn my swords into water? How? By the use of some elf magic spell?

ELF LAWYER: No, “liquidate” means to sell off for cash. Think of it like taking a solid, unmovable object and turning it into flowing money. That’s liquidation. You may lose your castle, and worse, your swords. 

PRINCE: Hmmm, I gotta say I don’t love that. Who am I without my swords?  And wait, I owe a lot of money to a lot of different people. Are you sure that if I give up my swords and castle, I’m going to be able to pay them all back? Did I tell you I owe a lot of money? 

ELF LAWYER: Oh, we have a system for that in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Once we liquidate everything you own, we take that pile of money and divide it between all the debts you owe. Think of it like being a birthday party–



ELF LAWYER CONT.: But the cake isn’t quite big enough to feed everyone. 



ELF LAWYER CONT: Everyone’s going to get a slice, but it might not be as big as they wanted. And no one gets the WHOLE cake, no matter how hungry they are.  In your bankruptcy, almost everyone will get something, but no one will be paid in full.

PRINCE: Oh, so say I owed 100 gold coins to the bladesmith. And 10 gold coins to the potion-maker, but only have half the money to settle those debts.

ELF LAWYER: In that case, we might make sure that 45 of your coins go to your bladesmith and 5 coins go to your potion-maker. So everyone gets half of what they’re owed, see? Even though you owe the bladesmith more, he can’t hog it all. The point is to get people back at least part of what they’re owed.

PRINCE: And then after all that, they leave me alone, right?

ELF LAWYER: Yes. But be warned. Your credit is going to be cursed for a while. A ten-year curse, to be precise. That means it’ll be tougher for you to get a loan to make really big purchases for the next ten years.

PRINCE: Hmm, I don’t love the idea of losing my stuff, especially my precious swords. But I’m out of options. And Princess Cecily is depending on me. (CONFLICTED) Ah, well…alright, yes, I’ll…I’ll do it. 

ELF LAWYER: A wise choice. So, in order to initiate bankruptcy proceedings, you must first complete this necessary paperwork. Tell me sir, what is your name?

PRINCE: I am Prince Marlowe, of the Kingdom of Pooperton. 



ELF LAWYER: (RECOMPOSED) Prince of Pooperton, if you can journey through this labyrinth and solve all the riddles without wrong answers or making one wrong turn, you will successfully have your debt erased using the Chapter 7 code.



BRIDGET: So, the Prince entered the labyrinth of bankruptcy paperwork, a cruel and complicated maze of filings, deadlines, and unexpected fees…  

PRINCE: Ahhh! Spiderwebs everywhere! Ahh, in my mouth! (SPITS THEM OUT)


RYAN: Wait a minute, this can’t really be how it is to file for bankruptcy, can it? This is just a silly, exaggerated fantasy story, right?

BRIDGET: Actually, this part is more real than you’d think. Filing for bankruptcy can be really intimidating.  Uh, but anyway…the Prince quickly became frustrated…


PRINCE: That’s it! I give up! I want out of this bankruptcy maze now! I don’t care if I gotta repay all my debts! Anything’s gotta be better than this! I’d give my entire store of next year’s grain to get out of here!  

ELF LAWYER: Oh, what’s that you say? 


ELF LAWYER: You’ll have an income of grain soon?

PRINCE: Yes, the yearly harvest, it’s the most glorious time of year in the Kingdom of Pooperton! Everyone brings me a bag of grain in tribute! There’s a whole ceremony and everything. 

ELF LAWYER: In that case, you’ll need to stop right there. I don’t think Chapter 7 is the right type of bankruptcy for you, my lord. 

PRINCE: [REALLY ANNOYED] Are you kidding me? I’m halfway through the labyrinth, man!

ELF LAWYER: If you’re going to have an income from your kingdom’s citizens, you must journey to a different realm, and a whole different chapter, for your solution.  

PRINCE: What? A whole different realm? How long is that going to take? 

CREDITOR 1: (OFF-MIC) There he is! It’s Prince Marlowe! We thought we’d find you here in Chapter 7!

PRINCE: Ahhh, my blasted creditors! 

CREDITOR 2: (OFF-MIC) Don’t let the Prince get away! He owes us money!

CREDITOR 1: (OFF-MIC) We’re coming after your sword collection! Get him! Take away his swords!


PRINCE: Uh oh, gotta run! I’ll figure out my other options on the way! (PRONOUNCING) Onward, to the next chapter!

BRIDGET: And with his creditors in hot pursuit, the Bankrupt Prince left Chapter 7 empty handed, unsure of where his journey as Pooperton’s brokest man would lead him, but filled with a sense that he must continue. 

RYAN: What’s gonna happen? Is the Prince gonna get to file for bankruptcy or not? I wanna know!

BRIDGET: Hold your horses, we’ll find out after we take a quick break! 


Part 2:

RYAN: Ok, welcome back to Million Bazillion. Today, we’re answering the question: “What is bankruptcy?” by reading a fantasy storybook about a prince who has so much debt, he realizes his only way forward is to declare bankruptcy. Hey, can we jump back in right away? I’m really curious to see how this story ends.

BRIDGET: Sure. (READING) So after giving up on Chapter 7, the Prince set course for Chapter 8, which… 


BRIDGET:… didn’t have much going in it, neither did chapter 9 or 10, but wait, he did make a little stop in Chapter 11: Bankruptcy for Businesses That Want to Keep Operating, Or, Reorganization… 



BRIDGET: Where he stumbled into a long line of business proprietors from throughout the land, who were all hoping this type of bankruptcy could be a way out of their business woes. 

CHAPTER 11 GUARD: Keep yourselves in an orderly line! You there, Bed, Hearth and Beyond…stop trying to cut in front of KnightAid!

BED HEARTH AND BEYOND: (OFF MIC) He cut in front of me first!

CHAPTER 11 GUARD: You’ll all get your chance to make it through the Chapter 11 Gauntlet! A deadly but thrilling obstacle course for businesses who are about to utterly fail! 


CHAPTER 11 GUARD: You might lose an arm along the way, but if you can pass these tests of speed, cunning, and fortitude, you will prove your worthiness to emerge from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, re-focused and re-organized into a lean, mean business machine! 


PRINCE: Ah ha, reorganization! Perhaps THIS is what my Kingdom needs! 

CHAPTER 11 GUARD: But if you fail…you will be sent to the outer shores of Chapter 7, to be liquidated, and be-goned forever!


PRINCE: Ooh, maybe I don’t like the sound of that. You there, good sir, as you wait in line for your own turn at this Gauntlet, tell me more about this Chapter 11 bankruptcy. If I were to file, would I need to sell all my swords?

BUSINESS PERSON 1: What? No way. The point is to help the business focus on what it’s really good at. Watch this now, the 99 Pence store is about to get knocked down by Boils R Us– Oooh, that’ll hurt tomorrow! 

CROWD: Ooooh

PRINCE: Hmm, and this Chapter 11 is mainly a type of bankruptcy for businesses, you say? 

BUSINESS PERSON 1: Yes! That’s right. There’s lots that can go wrong when you’re running a business. (SHOUTING BEHIND HIM) Hey, Lords and Ladies behind me, what brought you all here??

BIZ 3: Plague! I couldn’t keep my business open!

BIZ 4: Trusted the wrong Fortune Teller, and boy were they wrong!

BIZ 5: The whole bait and tackle business moved online! Fishing lines! We didn’t see it coming! 

BUSINESS PERSON 1: The point is, they’re suddenly in deep trouble, but the business is still worth saving. Bankruptcy isn’t an easy move but sometimes it’s our only option before shutting down completely!!


PRINCE: So, you’re saying everyone waiting in this line runs a failed business?

BUSINESS PERSON 2: Whoa, whoa, whoa, who are you calling “failed,” friend? I’m a very successful falconer, magic wandmaker, apothecary tonics and elixirs maker. My businesses have declared bankruptcy four times! It’s a great tool for genius business guys like me! I can stay in business, and even give myself a bonus if I want. 

PRINCE: Back up, you’ve filed for bankruptcy four times?

BUSINESS PERSON 2: No, no, no. I’ve personally filed for bankruptcy zero times. I’m not giving up my stuff. It’s my businesses that have gone bankrupt.

PRINCE: Hmm, I never thought about it like that. This is all great, and I’m actually really good at gauntlets if I do say so myself. It’s really too bad I can’t apply for this bankruptcy, since I’m not a business. 

CREDITOR 1: Hey! It’s Lord of Pooperton! Right there! He owes us money!

CREDITOR 2: Where are my coins??? Get him! 

PRINCE: Yoinks! That’s my sign to skedaddle! Nice meeting you all, I need to um, head out to the next chapter!

SFX: PRINCE RUNNING THROUGH CROWD: Sorry. Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me. Let me through. Please

SFX: Crowd commotion



BRIDGET: The Prince still hadn’t filed for bankruptcy but knew he couldn’t go back to the Kingdom of Pooperton without having fulfilled some part of his quest. He decided to advance forward, through Chapter 12.  …Where upon hitting a giant stone wall, his journey ended, and suddenly the entire story came to an abrupt stop. The End.



RYAN: What? The story can’t just end there! There was no resolution!  

BRIDGET: Yeah, that is a disappointing way to end the story, but this book only has 12 chapters. (FLIPPING PAGES) Hold on! Wait a minute, looks like behind this flap, the story has a secret 13th chapter!


BRIDGET: Chapter 13: Bankruptcy for people who owe an unimaginable amount of money, but who also still have some sort of income uh, coming in AKA, the Repayment Plan. 


BRIDGET: …  And the prince knew, if he couldn’t fulfill his quest to file for bankruptcy here, there would be nothing for him to do but go back to the Kingdom of Pooperton, an utter failure. 


BRIDGET: Hacking through a haunted Chapter 13 forest of giant spiders, snakes, warthogs and fax numbers, through the great bog of confusion, and staying on hold once for 2 hours, the Prince put his patience to the test. The only thing that gave him comfort was remembering…  


BRIDGET: … the face of his beloved princess. Oh, how he longed to see her beautiful face once again, this time living free from the burden of debt-


RYAN: No no- Bridget, what’d I say earlier? Enough of the romantic, mushy, kissy stuff!

BRIDGET: What? It’s sweet!

RYAN: Can we just get back to the action and adventure, please?



BRIDGET: OK, ok! Having successfully conquered all the challenges one faces in these kinds of fantasy stories, the Prince finally reached the fortress atop the pile of paperwork where, legend had it, the Guardian Knight of Chapter 13 had been keeping watch for centuries. 

PRINCE: Hello? I’ve completed all the paperwork! I’m ready to file Chapter 13!


OLD KNIGHT: Hark, who goes there?

PRINCE: Tis I, Prince Marlowe, of the Kingdom of Pooperton. 

OLD KNIGHT: Pooperton? So, you’re planning on staying with that name?

PRINCE: Yes? Why?

OLD KNIGHT: No reason. What do you have for me, my son? Be warned, my eyes are weary after centuries of guarding the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Realm.

PRINCE: I’ve filled out the forms as honestly as possible, I’ve listed all my assets, including my yearly income of grain and taxes from the good citizens of my kingdom.  I’m prepared to go bankrupt if I’m deemed truly broke in thine eyes, brave Guardian Knight. 


OLD KNIGHT: Lemme take a look here. Uhh, you do understand Chapter 13 is a little different from the other kinds of bankruptcy, right?

PRINCE: Errr, in what way?

OLD KNIGHT: Here in Chapter 13, you’ll be more likely to hold onto some of your assets, like your castle. 

PRINCE: And my swords?!

OLD KNIGHT: … Possibly. Think of this type of bankruptcy less as a liquidation, more as a very aggressive repayment plan to help you move forward.

PRINCE: Well, this all sounds perfect.

OLD KNIGHT: BUT it will come with a challenge that not everyone passes easily. You’ll be able to hold onto more of your things, but you won’t be free of debt anytime soon and you will make rigorous monthly payments.

PRINCE: I can live with that. As long as I can relieve myself of even some of my castle mortgage debt, my medical debt, my student loan debt.

OLD KNIGHT: Uh, sorry, your student loan probably doesn’t count.

PRINCE: What? Why not?

OLD KNIGHT: I don’t know, that’s just how it is.

PRINCE: Very well then, I will be free of all my debt except for, my student loan debt for my degree in royal waving. Keep that in mind, kids.

OLD KNIGHT: Ok, I’m thinking Chapter 13 is right for you. You just need to battle the dragon down there in that courtyard, while singing a ballad that lays out your plan for how you’ll repay all your creditors. Let’s hope you don’t trip or anything, or the dragon eats you and you never emerge from bankruptcy.  



BRIDGET: The Prince knew this was his big chance, to prove to the good citizens of Pooperton, and to himself, that he could make things right in the kingdom. 

PRINCE: (SINGING) And Ten pence to my unicorn carriage repair man weekly for the next five years…

BRIDGET: As he battled that dragon, he thought about all the surprises and challenges he’d faced in his young life, and how even if it meant battling a ferocious fire breathing dragon, he was grateful for the chance to learn from his mistakes and start fresh. You know, without all the debt. 


BRIDGET: Epilogue. The Prince and Chapter 13 Knight journeyed back to Pooperton, in a unicorn-drawn carriage, while the Chapter 13 Knight explained to the Prince why bankruptcy laws were so important, for individuals, and for a kingdom: 

PRINCE: Well, what did we learn from all this?

OLD KNIGHT: The Quest of the Bankruptcy exists to help people like you, Prince Marlowe. People who, sometimes through bad decision making, but more often through just bad luck, couldn’t live up to the financial promises they’ve made. Maybe it was a plague, maybe it was a famine, maybe even marauding pirates. The point is it could happen to anyone. And the ability to declare bankruptcy, to have your debt forgiven, can help you move on, and to get back to a stronger financial place, for individuals or for businesses. Which can be better for everyone.

BRIDGET: Soon, but possibly not soon enough for the Prince, the carriage peeked over the hill into the lush green dale of Pooperton. At first sight of the carriage, Princess Cecily was enraptured. She could see her beloved prince drawing closer, and she ran to meet him in the valley.

PRINCESS: Oh, how I missed you, my price!

PRINCE: My sweet Cecily! I made this dangerous and frustrating journey for us, but I promise I’ll never be away from home again for so long. 

PRINCESS: Kiss me, Prince Marlowe. A great big kiss-


RYAN: Whoa whoa whoa! I said no mushy stuff! Yuck! I don’t want to hear about kissin’ and couples and soft romance mushy junk! Gross! 

BRIDGET: Ryan! What’s your problem? You’re a grown man, you can’t stand to listen to, like, a combined three sentences worth of romantic subplot in a fairy tale for kids?!? 

RYAN: Let’s just jump to the end! I want to know what happened to the swords! Okay! Did he get to keep the swords or not?!

BRIDGET: Ok fine.


BRIDGET: (READING) Making a final appraisal of the princes’ riches, the Guardian Knight of Chapter 13 nodded and said with a grin:

OLD KNIGHT: I believe…we’ve satisfied all your creditors. And as long as you make all of your payments on time…you can hold onto your swords.

PRINCE: (SIGH OF RELIEF) You really mean it? You’ve no idea how much this means to me!

PRINCESS: This is such wonderful news!

PRINCE: I have zero dollars to my name and I’m walking on air!

PRINCESS: I’ve never been so happy to be flat broke. Not in debt. Just at plain zero.

OLD KNIGHT: Well, I suppose I should be on my way. Hey, I couldn’t help but notice this brick in your castle wall looks a little loose. 

PRINCE: Hmm, you’re right. I’ll just push it back in.


BRIDGET: As the prince pushed the stone into the wall, a secret compartment opened revealing a trove of treasure as far as the eye could see. 


BRIDGET: Oceans of golden coins and jewels. The Prince and Princess had no idea until this moment that this secret tomb of riches even existed, and they stared upon it with awe.

PRINCE: I guess this… uh… this is a little extra hidden treasure my father forgot to mention to me.

OLD KNIGHT: … I see… You do understand we may have to update our appraisal of your assets?

PRINCE: Yes, about that…. can we maybe pretend that we never saw this?

BRIDGET: The end.


BRIDGET: Welcome back to Million Bazillion. In this episode, we just finished reading an epic fantasy tale and learned a lot about the different types of bankruptcy out there. What did you think of the story?

RYAN: It was great!… Besides the mushy love parts! But, otherwise, not bad.

BRIDGET: And what did we learn from this episode?


RYAN: Bankruptcy isn’t a Get Out of Jail Free card. It can involve having assets like your car or house or sword collection taken away. It can wreck your credit, making it difficult to buy another car or house or sword collection. But for certain people and businesses, bankruptcy can be a hard but necessary choice, because they owe so much money, they have no hope of truly repaying it unless they get a little help. It’s a tool meant to offer a financial fresh start. It’s the option of last resort, that still comes with a lot of consequences. 

BRIDGET: Yeah, bankruptcy rules try to acknowledge that we humans are flawed. And mistakes happen. And you should be able to come back from those mistakes.  Cause whether in the Kingdom of Pooperton, or here in the real world, sometimes a little forgiveness is necessary. 


RYAN: Well, I guess that’s it. Look, we made it through a whole episode sitting here, reading a book in the library with nothing crazy happening just like you’d hoped it would-


RYAN: Oh wow! A MONSTER TRUCK just crashed through the library wall!

BRIDGET: Ahhh, I knew the episode would end with a monster truck, no matter how hard I tried to get us away from it.  


MONSTER TRUCK DRIVER: Hey, sorry I crashed my monster truck into the library! I’m desperately trying to find… the girl that I love.


MONSTER TRUCK DRIVER: Her name is Selma. She’s a librarian and her smile, is like my whole universe-

RYAN: No no no! No mushy stuff!

RYAN: Alright, that’s it for this episode of Million Bazillion! Thanks for listening! Make sure to check out the tip sheet linked in the show notes if you want to learn more about bankruptcy!

BRIDGET: We’ll be back next week to answer even more of your money questions … including why stores give out coupons … and why is our dollar sign an S with a line through it? I bet you’ve still got your own money questions though and we’d still love to hear them. Send those to us through our website, marketplace.org/million. 

RYAN: And you can also sign up for our newsletter at our website too, so you can be the first to get new episodes of Million Bazillion, straight to your inbox! 

BRIDGET:  Million Bazillion is brought to you by Marketplace, from American Public Media. This episode was written and hosted by Ryan Perez, and (me) Bridget Bodnar. 

RYAN: This episode had some additional voicing from Jo Critcher, Roger Hearing, Benjamin Dodson, Sabri Ben-Achour, Bekah Wineman, Courtney Bergsiker, Michelle Mencio, Dylan Miettinen, Nic Perez, and Francesca Levy.

BRIDGET: Our editor is Jasmine Romero. Courtney Bergsieker is our producer. And Marissa Cabrera is our senior producer. Thalia Menchaca is our intern. Our sound designer is Chris Julin. And Bekah Wineman mixed this episode.

RYAN: Our theme music was created by Wonderly. Bridget Bodnar is the Director of Podcasts at Marketplace. Francesca Levy is the Executive Director of Digital. Neal Scarbrough is the VP and General Manager.

BRIDGET: Million Bazillion is funded in part by the Sy Syms Foundation, partnering with organizations and people working for a better and more just future since 1985. And special thanks to The Ranzetta Family Charitable Fund and Next Gen Personal Finance for providing the start-up funding for this podcast, and continuing to support Marketplace in our work to make younger audiences smarter about the economy.

RYAN: If Million Bazillion is helping your family have important conversations about money, consider making a one-time donation today at marketplace.org/givemillion, and thanks for your support.

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The team

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