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How to Come Back from Bankruptcy

Posted: 07 Sep 2017 02:05 AM PDT

The following post is from FMF contributor Jess Holmes.

After spending several years fighting with creditors, you decided to file for bankruptcy. You never thought to find out how long bankruptcy can affect your credit score. And now that your credit score and confidence have taken a hit, you feel hopeless. But don’t fret because there’s a light at the end of the funnel. Keep reading to discover how to start rebuilding your financial life. 

Ways to Recover From Bankruptcy

1. Shift your mindset

If you’re going to pick up the pieces and rebuild, a mindset shift is paramount. It’s normal to feel like a failure. But the goal is to focus on getting to the root of the problem so you can move forward.

2. Create a spending plan 

Once you’re committed to improving your financial situation, create a budget. A few factors to keep in mind:

  • Expenses should always be lower than income. If not, trim unnecessary expenses.
  • Filing for bankruptcy should have alleviated some of those debt payments.  So, use the extra money to pay off other debts and start saving.
  • Always be realistic with your expenses and income or you’re setting yourself up for failure.

3. Build a cushion

Each time you get paid, it’s important to set aside a part of your income into a savings account. As the balance builds, you’ll have an even greater cushion to fall back on if a financial emergency arises. Even better, you won’t have to rely on debt to get by or put yourself at risk of falling back into the same trap that led to the initial bankruptcy.

4. Start rebuilding credit 

Are you thinking that filing for bankruptcy bans you from the credit world for several years? Think again. The easiest way to start rebuilding credit is by using credit responsibly. There are lenders that will give you a second chance without charging a fortune in interest. But it’s usually in the form of a secured credit card or loan product.

Both need a deposit for collateral in the event you default. Start with your financial institution when researching options. They may be more willing to approve you on the strength of your positive account history. But be sure to keep your balances low to derive the greatest benefit.

You could also become an authorized user on some else’s credit card to start rebuilding credit. You’ll benefit from positive account activity without being liable for the debt. 

Lastly, don’t forget to see investigate chexsystems to see if have an account listed. It may have been removed but if it hasn’t, now is the time to take care of it. 

5. Avoid late payments at all costs

Payment history accounts for a whopping 35 percent of your credit score. In fact, one late payment on a credit card or installment account can tank your credit score by up to 100 points. Even worse, the negative mark will remain on your credit report for seven years. So, if you’re serious about rebuilding your credit score post-bankruptcy, you can’t afford to let accounts slip through the cracks.

Instead, use your budget to stay on top of your expenses and due dates. You may also want to take it a step further by automating payments to avoid missing any due dates. And if you know you’re going to be short on funds, call the creditor in advance to set up a payment arrangement.

6. Keep an eye on your credit report 

When was the last time you checked your credit report? The thought of taking a peek may be frightening. But your report could contain material errors that are dragging down your credit score. In fact, one in five credit reports contains errors. So, visit AnnualCreditReport.com to retrieve your free copy and dispute any mistakes. 

If you need additional information or assistance with disputes, the Federal Trade Commission has a handy template for you right over here.

Bonus Tip: Avoid credit repair scams

Recovering from a bankruptcy takes time. You’ll need to work on managing your finances, keeping debt under control and making timely payments. Over time, your efforts will pay off. So, avoid falling for promises made by credit repair companies to remove negative payment history and bankruptcy or you’ll be sorely disappointed hundreds of dollars later. 


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