If you’ve filed bankruptcy, you may feel as though your financial future will be in shambles forever, but that’s not the case. Filing bankruptcy is a way to get a fresh start, and it can be especially helpful if medical bills or other unexpected expenses were an albatross preventing you from living your best life. While bankruptcies do stay on your credit report for up to a decade and your credit score will take a major hit initially, there are steps you can take to rebuild your credit score and get back to a place where you can buy a car, a house, or any other major purchase.
Initially, things you want to buy will come with a higher interest rate than those with an excellent credit score will pay, but because much of the debt that you had before filing bankruptcy has been erased, you are seen as less of a risk than someone with a large amount of debt. To get your score up – and lower those interest rates – here are some of the steps you can take:
- Check your credit reports. Creditors will sometimes leave discharged items on your report, which will negatively impact your credit score. Check to make sure those black marks have been erased.
- Pay on time. Continue to pay accounts that were not included in your bankruptcy – a car or home loan, for example – on time.
- Get a secured credit card. These cards require you to make a deposit in a savings account that is then used as credit. Make small purchases and pay your card off in full each month. Your payments will be reported to the three credit reporting agencies and, over time, will elevate your credit score.
- Apply for a credit card at a retail store. While the interest rates are higher, if you make small purchases and pay your card off monthly, your credit score will slowly rise.
- Consider a co-signer. Having a family member co-sign for a credit card or some other form of financing will help you establish new credit. Your score will go up as you make payments on time.
- Keep your balances low. Your credit to income ratio will keep your score high.
- Apply for credit only if necessary. Taking out too many cards will keep your score low, and could prevent you from making a necessary purchase.
- Take out a small personal loan. Diversified credit is a good way to show that you can pay your bills on time. The loan can be used for minor home repairs or other expenses.
- Don’t take out more credit than you can afford. You filed bankruptcy because you were overextended financially. Don’t make the same mistakes again.
- Monitor your credit closely. There are many free credit management platforms – Credit Karma and Credit Sesame among them – that can help you track your credit score and give you tips on how to improve it.
If you are worried about the impact to your credit score after filing bankruptcy, you’re not alone. However, millions of people have filed bankruptcy and emerged in a better financial position thanks to many of the tips we have outlined above. If you still aren’t sure if bankruptcy is right for you, call the Hedtke Law Group and let’s discuss your situation.