After you have gone through a bankruptcy, the number one concern you should have is how to avoid winding up in the same situation again. If you want to improve your credit rating, keep your house and stay out of debt, you need to avoid the same missteps that led to the original financial crisis.
The following are four tips for maintaining a clean financial slate:
Pay your bills on time every single month. Whatever bills you still have for debts not discharged during bankruptcy should be paid off in full on or before their due dates every time. If you don’t use automatic payments through your bank to stay on schedule, keep track of when bills are due with a spreadsheet, either on your computer or with paper and pen.
Set aside a fixed amount of each paycheck for your savings account. Ideally, arrange for a percentage of each paycheck to be directly deposited into your savings account. If that isn’t possible, transfer the portion yourself immediately upon receipt of your paycheck. Even small, regular deposits build over time, creating a cushion so you can keep up with bills or cover gaps in earnings.
If you retained your house after bankruptcy, consider whether you want to keep it. This is a tough one, but for families who fell into bankruptcy due to having a home beyond their means, it is important to evaluate what to do next. Should you keep a place that continues to cost so much you may wind up facing foreclosure and bankruptcy again? Or should you take advantage of the (slowly) improving housing market and downsize to a home you can better afford?
Ask for more advice. If you haven’t already seen an authorized credit counselor, now is the time.