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5 tips for post-bankruptcy life

One of the prevailing myths about bankruptcy is that it wrecks your life. People talk about never being able to buy a home, buy a car, start a business or get a credit card.

This is a myth for a few reasons, but let’s focus on one of the biggest ones: You can rebuild your financial life after bankruptcy. It’s probably not even as hard as you think. Below are five key tips that can help.

1. Make a budget and stick to it.

If you declared Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you had to make a budget already. If you declared Chapter 7, it’s still smart. Take a look at your income and your bills. Figure out exactly what you can afford. Pay those bills when they’re due, every month. Most of all, track your spending. People constantly overspend without realizing that all of those little things add up in a hurry.

2. Reflect on your pre-bankruptcy decisions.

You can learn a lot from financial mistakes. Don’t sweep it all under the rug and make the same mistakes twice. Consider what you did wrong: That credit card you maxed out, the new car you couldn’t afford, the house that was just too much house. Make a list of mistakes you don’t want to repeat.

3. Don’t feel guilty.

The myth that bankruptcy is only negative is so common that people often feel terrible after they file. Don’t fall into this trap. Remember, it’s a myth. Bankruptcy isn’t a choice you made. No one sets out to file. It’s just a realistic, functional tool that you used. It was made necessary by your circumstances, and you did what was best for you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

4. Ignore the other myths.

You’ll hear these myths as soon as you tell people you filed. They’ll ask you where you plan to live since you can never buy a home again — when the truth is that you absolutely can. They’ll ask you what you’re going to do now that your credit score is ruined — when you can actually rebuild it. Take the time to look into the truth, not the myths.

5. Work on your credit.

Paying your bills on time is the first step, but there are plenty of others. A secured credit card, for instance, can help you boost your score. This may make you eligible for a traditional loan, which, when paid on time, can boost the score even more. Be proactive about rebuilding your credit.

It’s common to be confused about the realities of bankruptcy. This is likely your first time filing. Take the time to be sure you know the truth and learn all about the process.

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