4 Things to Do After a Bankruptcy Discharge
Congratulations! You have received your bankruptcy discharge and are ready to move onto the next chapter of your life. However, before getting ahead of yourself, you need to make sure you don’t backslide and become indebted again. Wiping out old debts is only half of the battle. Follow the tips below for making your post-discharge life as easy as possible.
Hold onto Your Bankruptcy Paperwork
You will want your paperwork in case a debtor tries to collect on a debt that was discharged. This happens infrequently; nevertheless, it is enough of a hassle that you should hold onto the following:
- Bankruptcy petition
- Order of discharge
When a creditor contacts you, you can show them that you had the debt discharged, which should get the creditor off your back. If you lost this paperwork, don’t worry. You can get copies from the court for a small fee. Hold onto your paperwork indefinitely.
Check Your Credit Report Frequently
A bankruptcy is a negative event that will be reported to the credit bureaus. It will take a few months for the bankruptcy to show up on your credit report, so wait about three months after your discharge before looking. It should show up by then.
When you get your report, check to see that your discharged debts are noted properly. They should read “discharged in bankruptcy” or something similar. The balance should also be $0 unless you decided to reaffirm a loan.
Bankruptcies will fall off your credit report within 10 years (in the case of a Chapter 7) or after 7 years of filing (in the case of a completed Chapter 13). The impact will diminish over time but remember to check that the bankruptcy falls off your credit report at the appointed time.
Build an Emergency Fund
One reason people get into financial trouble is that they are unprepared for emergencies—the surprise layoff, the necessary repair to your car, or the impacted molar that needs to be removed. As a result, they rely on their credit cards to tide them over.
Instead, you should begin building an emergency fund. Start small, with whatever you can afford to set aside. But try to make regular deposits into your savings account–$5 or $10 a week—and then forget about the money. To discourage you from dipping into the fund, set up your emergency fund at a separate bank from the one you do most of your regular banking with.
Ideally, you should build up your fund so that it covers at least six months of expenses. To help speed up the process, funnel your tax returns and any surprise money, like an inheritance, into your emergency savings account. Once you build a large enough emergency fund, you will definitely sleep better at night.
Rebuild Your Credit
After bankruptcy, your credit score should take a hit. Remember that it is only temporary and that you can begin building it back up again.
You can’t obtain financial freedom overnight. But by following these tips, you can set yourself up nicely for a better tomorrow. Contact Nowack & Olson in Plantation today if you have questions about the bankruptcy process.