After your bankruptcy is complete, it can seem quite overwhelming to figure out what to do in order to maximize your “fresh start” and begin rebuilding your finances. We’ve compiled our list of our top 8 things we advise clients to do after their bankruptcy.
- Understand your discharge. Sometimes, people are surprised to learn that not all of their debts were discharged in their bankruptcy, generally in a Chapter 7 case. You want to confirm with your bankruptcy attorney which debts were and were not discharged. If you have debts that survived your bankruptcy, it is important to get those debts into repayment plans right away.
- Develop a budget. Having a budget in place is key to your future financial success. You can start with your Schedules I and J (from your bankruptcy), and work from there to develop your household budget.
- Implement positive spending habits. In addition to developing your budget, you want to ensure you are following your budget. This requires that you review your spending in light of your budget, make changes where needed, and continually repeat this process to keep yourself on track. Having a coach to help you with this process will add another layer of accountability which can help you achieve success.
- Determine your short term and long term financial goals. When developing your budget, keep in mind what your short term and long term financial goals are, and incorporate them into your budget. Want to be able to save 10% of your income? Want to maximize your retirement contributions? What is important to you and your family? Maybe you want to be able to take a family vacation every year. You should certainly have both your wants and needs in your budget.
- Review your credit report. It is important to ensure the proper reporting of your discharged accounts to ensure there is no continued negative reporting.
- Slowly begin obtaining new credit. Yes, it is okay to get new credit after your bankruptcy. Furthermore, the only way to rebuild your credit is to obtain new credit. Stick with your “mainstream” lenders, and start building positive payment history. It can be something as simple as a secured credit card. Initially, your credit limit is not important. What is important is that you charge a small amount and pay it off in full every month. That way, you avoid paying interest, and you’re building positive reporting on your credit report.
- Pay post bankruptcy bills on time. It is very important for your fresh start that you pay all post bankruptcy bills on time. This goes back to the item above; ensuring that you’re building positive payment history.
- Understand that bankruptcy is only a short period of your life. It’s okay that you filed bankruptcy. All too often, there is a feeling of shame that is attributed to bankruptcy. But life happens. After bankruptcy, we’re now going to focus on getting your finances in order and leaving that chapter closed behind you. The effects of bankruptcy will not last forever and you’ll be rebuilding much sooner than you expect.
Following these top 8 tips will ensure that you’re on your way to financial success after your bankruptcy. I’ve worked with many clients over the past 10 years, and I’m so happy to hear my clients’ success stories after their bankruptcies are complete. They’ve rebuilt their credit, obtained new jobs, bought homes, built their retirements, and many other financial successes. We look forward to helping you achieve your financial goals too!