Filing for bankruptcy is a daunting decision. On the one hand, bankruptcy can free you from the immense burden of inescapable debt. On the other hand, bankruptcy remains on your credit report for seven to 10 years, depending on the type of bankruptcy filed. Many people fear their credit score will never recover.
While it will take some time, a poor credit score is not a permanent situation. In fact, most people find their credit score increases to the “good” or “excellent” range in as little as two years after filing. From the moment you file for bankruptcy, there are simple actions you can take that will help you start restoring your credit and get your finances back on track.
1. Pay remaining bills on time
Bankruptcy doesn’t eliminate all of your monthly payments. Existing student loans, mortgages and rent will continue to affect your credit score, so you must stay on top of these payments. Responsible management of your finances will show lenders your spending mishaps are in the past.
2. Stick to a budget
After bankruptcy, it’s critical to create a budget you can stick to. Determine how much you need for your essential expenses, such as housing payments, utilities, groceries or other necessities. If you can, start building an emergency fund for unexpected costs. Research has shown having as little as $250 in saving can protect families from running up credit cards or using payday loans.
3. Secure new credit
You may have concerns about getting new credit after bankruptcy, but it’s one of the best steps you can take to rebuild your financial profile. While lenders may consider you too risky to be a candidate for a traditional credit card, some products provide extra assurances that you won’t be a risk. For example, a secured credit card is backed by an upfront deposit you pay in the event you can’t make your payments.
4. Take it slow
While you’ll want to repair your credit score as quickly as possible, it’s vital that you take things slow. Any financial mistakes could quickly derail the progress you’ve made. When rebuilding credit, be sure only to charge what you can afford and pay off your balance every month.
Rebuilding credit takes time, but it is possible to bounce back. By following these tips, you can ensure you make the most of your fresh start.