Sometimes, if you have racked up extensive debt and your creditors have been badgering you, the only way out may be to declare a Chapter 11 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Despite the negative stigma associated with the procedure, filing for bankruptcy is actually designed as a way to help people restructure their finances and lives, so that everyone, including the original lenders, end up at least a little happy.
Indeed, there were an estimated 1,071,932 bankruptcy filings in the United States during 2013, 728,833 of which were under Chapter 7. It usually takes approximately six months to complete the bankruptcy process; after that, you won’t be able to file again for another six years, so it is important that you regain your financial autonomy. A Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy attorney will be able to give some advice, but you should also check out these tips:
Make a Budget
It’s time to make — and adhere to — a strict budget, which may be difficult, depending on your previous spending habits. But it will greatly benefit you in the long run, so don’t be afraid to seek financial advice from your bankruptcy attorney or a financial consultant.
Fall in Love With Cash
Start paying for things mostly in cash, which can help you limit the amount you spend. Spending money you didn’t have is what most likely got you into this mess in the first place, so a new approach may be in order. Some people have found success by allocating a certain amount of cash to each of their budget items and placing that cash in an envelope. When the money is gone, so is your ability to spend it — at least until the next month.
Pay Bills On Time
This might seem to be a given, but it is extremely important that you start to build your credit back up, and late payments can delay that process. Make sure to pay all bills, no matter how small, on time or early. Mark due dates on a calendar, or even set yourself alarms on your phone to make sure you don’t forget.
Take Out a Credit Card
Part of building up your credit again means not taking your credit card for granted. Use it with caution, in order to show the credit companies that you are indeed going to pay every bill in full. You may be able to get a regular credit card, since the credit companies know that you have little debt after the bankruptcy, but you can also always get a secured card of some sort.
Your Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy attorney should be able to give you more financial advice for the period after you file for bankruptcy.