I Just Received My Bankruptcy Discharge. What's Next?

By Tracy L. Hirsch

If you filed for bankruptcy, completed your payment plan, and recently received a discharge from the Court, you may be wondering what to do next.
Understanding how to make wise financial decisions after your bankruptcy discharge is essential if you want to avoid financial hardship in the future. Here are five helpful tips on how to get yourself and your family back on top of your finances.

1.) Keep all of your bankruptcy paperwork in a safe place.

Once you receive your bankruptcy discharge, you should keep copies of your discharge papers, your bankruptcy petition, and your notice of filing in a locked desk drawer, filing cabinet, or safe.
Make sure to always have a hard copy and an electronic copy. If you received all of your paperwork in person, scan it into your computer, and save it to an external hard drive as well.
You need these documents so that future lenders (including mortgage loan companies) can see your detailed bankruptcy report. It’s also important to have these papers on hand in case an old creditor tries to comes after a debt that was discharged in your bankruptcy case.

Utilize financial resources, such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, to get solid advice on how to avoid incurring debt again in the future.

2.) Check your credit reports on a regular basis.

Six months after your bankruptcy discharge, it’s important to check your credit reports to make sure that any discharged debts are not being counted against you.
If you see an erroneous outstanding balance, you can work to have it removed from your credit report to improve your credit score.

3. ) Create a budget.

Take advantage of your brand new start by doing some financial planning. Creating a budget will help you monitor your expenses, and also help you and your family plan ahead for the future. Planning for retirement, a life change (such as the birth of a child), or future tuition fees, will help you stay out of debt and avoid the temptation of using credit cards.

4.) Set up a savings account.

Saving money will help you avoid future debts incurred from unforeseen circumstances. Setting money aside for emergencies, as well as planned life changes such as the ones mentioned above, will prevent you from getting into a position where your debt is unmanageable again and unable to be paid.

5.) Start rebuilding your credit.

You can rebuild your credit without a high credit line, which is the best way to go. After you’ve been discharged for several months, you can consider getting a credit card with a small credit limit.
You can put small expenses on it, such as gas or groceries, and then pay off the balance in full each month. Don’t max out the credit card — just use a small amount of your credit limit each month and pay it off on time and in full during each billing cycle.
Getting on a path to financial freedom takes work, but it’s worth it knowing that you and your family have a secure financial future. Call or text me today at (502) 435-2593 to find out if filing for bankruptcy is right for you.

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