Whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you put yourself on the path to a clean credit slate in the future. However, some errors after you receive a discharge can result in additional debt or other financial issues.
Plan for a successful future after bankruptcy by steering clear of these common mistakes.
Missing the second credit counseling session
When you file for bankruptcy, you have to attend an in-person or online credit counseling course. However, you also have to take the second part of the course before you receive an official discharge from the bankruptcy court. Many people forget this step, and the court must reopen their case.
Delaying new credit
If you want to rebuild your FICO score, apply for new credit within a year after bankruptcy. Otherwise, it can be difficult to boost your numbers with no updated data for the credit bureaus.
Operating without a plan
Before applying for a new credit card or car loan, write down your financial goals. Develop a clear budget and determine how much you can afford to spend without relying on credit. Set money aside in savings each month so you can plan for unexpected expenses.
Settling for unfavorable offers
Review the terms and conditions carefully before accepting an offer for new credit. Although you will see higher interest rates than you would with a higher credit score, you still want to avoid accounts that have extensive fees or prepayment penalties.
Not reviewing your credit report
You can obtain free copies of your report once a year at annualcreditreport.com. Download and review your credit files from each of the three credit bureaus. By doing so, you can dispute any errors that may artificially lower your score. For example, your report should reflect all the accounts that were subject to bankruptcy discharge.
By avoiding these frequent pitfalls, you can use credit responsibly and enjoy a solid financial future. Although filing for bankruptcy sometimes carries a social stigma, it is actually a smart way to manage unmanageable debt.