Your bankruptcy case is complete and you’ve received a full discharge—what now? Declaring bankruptcy gives you a clean slate, but you have to approach this time with the right mindset and goals. Here are a few tips to set yourself up for success.
1. Check Your Credit Report
Through each of the three credit bureaus, you have the right to a free credit report once per year. Around 90 days after you’ve received your discharge, pull your credit report from each bureau. Verify that your discharge is marked on your credit report and that none of the discharged debts are still listed on your report.
2. Write Out Your Financial Plans
It’s crucial to think about your long-term financial goals and how you plan on achieving them. Being mindful of your finances helps you avoid slipping into the habits that led to bankruptcy. Think about your savings goals, how you plan on rebuilding your credit, and what long-term purchases you want to make. Consider reflecting on previous financial mistakes and coming up with ways to avoid them.
3. Stay Positive
It’s easy to feel discouraged after your bankruptcy is final. You’ve likely seen how heavily your credit score was affected and you may wonder if you’ll ever recover. Remember, many, many other people have filed bankruptcy before you and lived to tell the tale. Bankruptcy isn’t a reflection on your character or values. It’s simply a choice you made to be able to provide for your family. With time (and it won’t take very long) and careful planning, you’ll build a strong financial future.
4. Make a Budget
A budget is essential when you’re rebuilding your finances and life after bankruptcy. Spend some time writing a painstakingly detailed budget. If you are unsure about your expenses and income, plan slightly under what you actually earn and slightly more than you actually pay. This leaves you a small buffer for emergencies. Make sure to leave space for savings in your budget. A healthy emergency savings account can help you avoid taking on unnecessary debt.
5. View Bankruptcy as a Learning Experience
Overall, bankruptcy is what you make of it. If you look at it with shame and consider it a defining point of your life, you’ll likely have a hard time recovering. If you think about it as a powerful learning experience that has given you the chance to build healthier financial habits, you’ll have the right mindset for financial growth and success.