Everyone wants to remain debt free after discharging credit card balances, medical bills, and other qualifying debt in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Enjoy your fresh financial start for years to come by following these tips:
If you take control of your finances now, you can be one of the many who prosper following Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Many people file for bankruptcy due to no fault of their own after experiencing an unexpected event, such as an illness, job loss, or divorce. Even so, everyone can benefit from cutting unnecessary costs and building a nest egg to fall back on—not just those who filed for bankruptcy to wipe out credit card balances.
Reviewing your spending habits and making a comfortable budget is a commonsense place to start. Avoid buying items on credit that you can’t afford to pay for in cash. If you take out new credit cards, pay off most, if not all, of your account balance each month so that you don’t accrue interest.
Filing for bankruptcy comes with a downside—it can hurt your credit initially. Although a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will usually stay on your credit report for ten years, the impact goes down with time.
The bright side? Your bankruptcy won’t prohibit you from obtaining new credit and moving on with your life. If you’re like most, your case will move through the process in about four months, and you’ll be able to begin rebuilding your credit after receiving your bankruptcy discharge. In fact, most debtors start receiving new credit card offers shortly after they receive their discharge.
Credit card companies realize that your discharge will free up money for other bills, so you’re more likely to pay back your debts after bankruptcy. Plus, you won't be able to wipe out debt again using the bankruptcy process for several years. Find out when you’ll be eligible for another bankruptcy discharge.
Keeping your available credit high is a factor that drives up your credit score, along with maintaining a mix of credit types, such as a home loan, car loan, and credit card accounts. So when you begin using credit again, you’ll want to keep balances below 30%. Keep reading for other factors to consider.
You will typically begin to receive new offers for credit after bankruptcy. However, be aware that many new credit card offers will have low limits, high-interest rates, and high annual fees. Reviewing the offer terms carefully before signing up for a new credit card after bankruptcy is essential. The goal is to accept a credit card with the highest possible limit because credit reporting agencies rate you based on your total available credit. Not only can lower limits can harm your score, but you’ll want to pay off the majority of your balance each month.
If you don’t qualify for a typical, unsecured credit card, you might want to start rebuilding your credit by getting a secured credit card from your bank. You’ll deposit a certain amount of money in the bank as collateral for the card. In exchange, you have a line of credit equal to the amount in the account. A secured credit card rebuilds credit because the creditor typically reports payments on your credit report—you’ll want to be sure that will happen.
Also, it’s essential to examine your credit report for mistakes after your discharge. If you notice an error, correct it promptly so that it doesn't derail your efforts to rebuild your credit. You can check your credit report for free using annualcreditreport.com (use the official site, not a lookalike). You’re entitled to one free copy per year from each of the three reporting agencies. Requesting a report from one of the three agencies every four months is an excellent way to keep track of changes. Also, all of the three reporting agencies allow you to file a dispute online.
Many people are surprised to learn that filing bankruptcy won’t derail a car purchase or homeownership for long. If the bankruptcy helps clean up your credit faster than you’d be able to do on your own—as it does for many without the means to pay off outstanding debts—your dream might be closer than you imagine. Specifically, if you take steps to rebuild your credit, it’s possible to get relatively reasonable interest rates when buying a new car within one to two years after bankruptcy. Securing a home loan within four years is well within reach—and some people start the home purchasing process in as few as two.
Learn more about qualifying for a home loan after bankruptcy.