Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to get a fresh start financially and erase past debts, but a legitimate concern people have is the effects it will have on their credit score and their ability to take out credit again. One of the biggest misconceptions about filing for bankruptcy is that it will ruin your credit score and your financial future. To the contrary, after filing for bankruptcy you can begin restoring your credit immediately.
It is possible to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy, so long as you exercise discipline and stay on track financially. The following tips will help you get back on your feet and stay there after filing for bankruptcy.
- Put Together a Budget.
Budgeting is not fun for most people, but it is necessary. Preparing a budget and keeping to it is an excellent way to track how much money is coming in and how it is being spent. If you are overspending beyond your means, a budget will be able to track this issue and help keep you in line. Many people have success with online programs for budgeting, while others use a simple spreadsheet. To start, enter in how much income is received on a monthly basis. Next, enter in all fixed expenses, including mortgage payments or rent, utility bills, insurance and other monthly expenses. The first step is to make sure that your income covers all of these expenses. Then put together a list of other expenses that are more discretionary. These discretionary expenses are often where most people overspend. If the budget does not cover these discretionary expenses, then do not spend on those items.
- Pay Bills on Time.
After bankruptcy, you can immediately begin rebuilding your credit – but one surefire way to not achieve this goal is by not paying your bills on time. In fact, paying bills on time can account for approximately 35 percent of your credit score. Anytime someone is late on a payment, this signals to lenders that the consumer is not good with his or her money and is thus a lending risk. Once a budget is put together, stick to that budget and make sure all bills are paid on time and in full. If someone struggles with making payments on time, auto-pay could be a good option to ensure that payments are taken out immediately and are not late.
- Pay Discretionary Expenses with Cash.
If you wish to spend on extra expenses, such as entertainment or clothing, and worry about keeping to a strict budget, one method that can keep you in line is to only spend using cash on hand. Being restricted to what you have in your wallet, makes you prioritize what you spend. Once the money is gone, the spending stops. Make sure that a credit card is not also in your wallet so that the temptation is not there for when the money runs out.
- Use a Secured Credit Card to Rebuild Credit.
Credit cards often bring people into a bad financial situation, but they can also be extremely helpful, especially for when it comes to building up credit. A secured credit card can be an excellent resource for someone with poor credit to help rebuild their credit. Secured cards often require the borrower to put down an amount of money to secure the card, limiting that person on how much money he or she can spend on the card based on how much cash was deposited as collateral. Secured cards are not meant to be used for the long-term but rather for temporary purposes until that person rebuilds his or her credit score enough to take out a regular credit card.
- Report Positive Accounts to Your Credit History.
To further help a consumer’s chances of being approved later for a line of credit or mortgage, it can help to add positive accounts to your credit history. Certain expenses, such as utility bills, can be added through major credit reporting companies, such as TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. By adding these positive accounts to the person’s credit history, he or she can demonstrate positive financial behavior through regular, on-time payments on these bills.
- Be Wary of Scams.
One very important thing to keep in mind is the fact that not everyone out there has your best interest in mind- particularly if they know you are trying to rebuild your credit. If a company is requiring you pay an upfront fee before they will help you with your credit score, this is a huge red flag that a scam is involved.
If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.