While it wiped out your old debt, bankruptcies stay on your credit report for seven to 10 years, hurting your chances of qualifying for a mortgage or other credit. Despite the hardships, there are several ways you can bounce back. Here’s five things you need to know.
1. Make a budget
To start, calculate all of your fixed expenses such as your mortgage payment, home bills, insurance and anything you’re required to pay monthly.
Make sure your budget can cover all of these costs.
Next, calculate your other needs such as food, clothing and entertainment.
Leave room for discretionary and emergency savings, but make sure your projected spending falls within your means.
2. Start paying cash
While you don’t need to use cash for every purchase, prioritizing cash spending can help you to save money.
For instance, you may think twice about buying extra snacks at the grocery store if you end up being a few dollars short for necessities such as eggs or milk.
When your cash runs out, it’s gone.
Using cash may only be temporary for you, but it’s a good step to help mitigate excess spending.
3. Pay your bills on time, every time you pay them
Late payments tell lenders you’re not responsible enough with your money.
It also makes them cautious about lending money to you in the future.
To increase your credit score, set up a system that allows you to pay all of your bills by their due dates.
Many people find it helpful to set a calendar alert the day before a payment is due to remind them to pay bills and avoid missed payments.
4. Add positive accounts to your history
To improve your chances of getting approved for a line of credit from a lender, you can add positive accounts and current bills to your credit history.
Not everything qualifies, and some bills are harder to add than others, but it can help you later on when you’re applying for new credit. Experian offers a service that allows customers to add utility and phone bills to Experian credit reports.
5. Try a secured credit card
A secured credit card can help people get back on their feet and rebuild credit after declaring bankruptcy. Secured cards have a credit limit based on the cash you deposit as collateral. If you can put down $250, that’s your limit. To find a good secured credit card, make sure it gets reported to the major credit bureaus. Also, try to find one with low fees and flexible repayment terms.