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3 tips for life after bankruptcy

Bankruptcy, such as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, takes between five and seven years to pay off. It is stressful, embarrassing and devastating to your credit rating, but the process can mean a fresh start.

The new beginning starts with developing a game plan to guarantee you never go into debt again. Here are three tips to get your strategy off the ground.

1. Check your credit scores

Barring any unforeseen revocations, the court discharges your case. You may receive a discharge letter stating the court officially wiped out qualifying debt such as credit cards, medical bills and personal loans.

Once the credit reporting agencies update your report, check your scores and reports from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. If any debt information is incorrect, contact the companies to update the changes.

2. Avoid repeating mistakes

Examine the way you handled your finances before the bankruptcy. Make notes of your mistakes to understand better how you handled spending, borrowing and making payments.

Plan out a workable budget considering your current income. Set money management goals to help you achieve the aim of rebuilding your credit.

3. Work to rebuild your credit

Keep track of your credit scores monthly and the credit reports annually. You just wiped out your credit card bills. Is getting another credit card smart? To re-establish a good credit rating, get a secured credit card.

A secured credit card does not need a credit check. Instead, you put down a cash deposit that becomes your credit limit. You can set up recurring bills to come out of the credit card to show your utilization habits and on-time payments.

You may find your credit scores increase after a few years of wise money management. The bankruptcy will come off your credit report seven to 10 years after the filing date.

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