So, it’s finally over. All the papers, the meetings with lawyers, the court dates and the constant questions: Will this really help me? Am I doing the right thing? What should I do next? Hopefully, at this point you’re no longer holding onto unnecessary fear concerning this huge financial event. You have a fresh start—a chance to rebuild your credit and your life from a good foundation.
With this in mind, there are a few steps you can take to get started on your new financial life and move on after bankruptcy:
Take a breath. It’s been a long time getting to this point, and you’re no doubt excited to start making and achieving goals again. But hang on: You’ve just been through a difficult and important financial process. As much as you want to get back on the road, you may want to take a few minutes to sit back and take in the scenery. Get used to the new lay of the land, and think about the possibilities. And while you’re at it:
Reflect on the past. But don’t dwell on the past. The time for kicking yourself for mistakes, missteps and missed opportunities is over. Bankruptcy is a fresh start. Everything that’s happened is done. Having said that, it’s important to never forget the old, (but immensely true!) adage, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Those mistakes, those missteps? While you can’t take them back, they don’t have to define you. You can simply remember them so you don’t make the same mistakes again.
Open a checking and savings account. Depending on your situation, this is easier said than done, but try to work with your bank to see what you can do. Having money in the bank is an important psychological achievement as well as a practical one. And savings as a buffer against future crises is another way to achieve peace of mind.
Find a credit card that will help you rebuild credit. But, you might think, credit cards are what got me into trouble in the first place! Very probably true, and don’t ever forget that (see above), but a necessary part of rebuilding credit is having and using credit responsibly. Find and apply for a secured credit card, one that will allow you to deposit a certain amount of money that will also serve as your credit limit. By making small purchases and paying them back month-to-month, you’ll slowly but surely rebuild your credit.
Make a budget and pay your bills on time. As part of your new post-bankruptcy life, it’s time to get organized. There are several software choices for budgeting, but even a simple spreadsheet is better than nothing. The money you have now, the money that is no longer going to impossibly high bills, that’s money you need to decide how to handle. Making and keeping to a budget is vital to moving forward.
These are just some of the things you can do when you’re finally on the other side of bankruptcy. There will be difficulties ahead, and the consequences of bankruptcy will follow you for a while, but the more you do in the beginning to start building credit, and more importantly to start building good financial habits, will go a long way toward creating a brighter future.
If you have questions about your bankruptcy, or have not yet decided how to proceed, please contact us here!
photo credit: Long Chung via Flickr cc by-nd 2.0