Credit traps are dangerous to everyone, but they can be especially damaging to those trying to rebuild credit after filing bankruptcy.
As you work your way to financial health, make sure you steer clear of these common post-bankruptcy pitfalls.
- Failing to Plan: When you receive your bankruptcy discharge, you’ll likely be debt-free; but that will only last as long as you spend less than you make. It may sound simple, but many people forget that continued financial health depends on continual, conscious planning.
Solution: Make sure you develop a budget and stick with it.
- Slipping into Old Habits: If you’re like most Americans, you needed bankruptcy protection because some crisis (like divorce, death, layoff, injury or a lawsuit) pushed you over the edge; but you may have also had financial habits that left you unable to weather a storm: over-reliance on credit cards, use of payday loans, having little or no savings, etc. After bankruptcy, it’s more important than ever to avoid such costly sources of credit.
Solution: Take advantage of the tips offered in the financial management course you’ll take during your bankruptcy – they’re designed to help you stay out of debt!
- Credit Repair Scams: Solutions that promise to wipe out bad credit, erase your credit history or achieve any other feat that seems too good to be true should be avoided. There’s no quick way to improve your credit and most offers of this type will likely cost you money and hurt your credit.
Solution: Take the slow-and-steady route to better credit: pay off your bills every month, don’t open more credit cards than you need and stick with your budget. Over the course of a couple years, you should see your credit improve.
- Picking the Wrong Plastic: As you rebuild your credit, you’ll want to open a credit card account. But be wary of the offers you receive in the mail. Your post-bankruptcy status may mean you’ll have to pay higher interest rates or fees than a borrower with stronger credit, but don’t settle for shoddy terms. Know which credit cards to avoid.
Solution: Consult with your bankruptcy lawyer if you’re not sure about the terms of a credit card agreement and consider visiting a site like bestcreditcards.com to see the variety of options available to you.
With some planning, discipline and perseverance, YOU CAN rebuild your credit after filing bankruptcy.