So you've finally been discharged from your bankruptcy, and now you are free to do whatever you want again. The world is your oyster!
But before you grab a bucket and head for the
beach, there are a few things you need to know. First of all, a
bankruptcy discharge is not a license to shop. That itch to celebrate
your newfound freedom might almost impossible to ignore, but if you
want to stay debt-free, you are going to have to lay low for awhile,
especially in the three months after your discharge.
Here's why: you probably feel like you've been in debt forever, but you're not the only one who knows it. Credit card companies have caught the scent too, and chances are you're getting applications left, right and center these days. Talk about tempting! The best thing you can do is to throw those applications right into the recycle bin, regardless of how much this or that company says they want to help you rebuild your credit. The truth is they don't want to help you rebuild; they want to help you get back in the position that caused you to go bankrupt in the first place.
Those 'high-risk' cards come with a lot of caveats - the fee you pay to get the card, for instance. Some cards will actually charge you for the card by placing it on your card. So if your card has a $100 limit and it cost you $75 to get, guess what? You only have $75 in credit. Go over that, and get ready for some nasty fees.
So how can you get your life back to normal? Before you do anything else, you have to change your spending habits. Really think about the cost and quality of things and put yourself in control. For example, is it really worth it to buy that brand-name bread when the store brand is just as good and costs a dollar less? It's a small-scale example, but if you can apply that kind of thinking in baby steps, pretty soon you'll be able to apply it to everything you buy, no matter how large. So clip coupons, try to buy when things are on sale, and don't go hog wild when you do buy.
Second, prioritize your bills. Your most important, must-pay-on-time bill every month should be your rent or mortgage. It's your shelter, and without it, handling anything else that comes your way becomes a lot more difficult. Your utilities are next, because you have to be able to cook and store your food. Your third most important bill might be the telephone, the fourth your cable TV or satellite, and so on. Take an average of how much of your pay check goes for rent/mortgage and bills. Then, set aside a little bit of each check to put toward each bill. It might be tedious, but trust me; it will be worth it once you get into the flow.
The third thing you have to do is save up $500, doing the same as you've done for your bills - take a bit out of each pay check. Only this time, open a new account. Once you've saved $500, run to your nearest bank and request a secured bank loan for that amount. The bank should have no problem granting your request, as the money's already there. For the next 90 days, make your payments on time, every time. You will be amazed at how much faster this will build your credit than those high-risk cards!
If you have to use credit, why not do so to your advantage? Here's how: purchase an item that's on sale with your credit card. Then, when your credit card bill arrives, pay the item off in full. That's it! You get to enjoy your new item for a month before you have to pay for it. If you can stick to this, your credit will have nowhere to go but up.
By applying the above tips, your credit will be given a boost at a time when you need it the most - in the first 3 or 4 months after a bankruptcy discharge. You've been given a second chance. Don't give up - you can do it!
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