So you just filed for bankruptcy? Congratulations!
While that might not be what you expected to hear, there’s actually plenty of cause for celebration. Because filing for bankruptcy can be emotionally difficult, many people put off the decision for far too long. But the truth is that bankruptcy is not an end—it’s the first move in a new, financially healthy life.
So take a deep breath, congratulate yourself on making a critical step in taking control of your financial situation. Here’s what you should do next.
If you haven’t yet connected with a financial planner, now is a great time. A financial planner can help you make sense of (and learn from) your financial past, and they can also advise you on the quickest way to land on solid financial footing. If you’re a business owner, a qualified financial advisor can also help you plan for the future of your business.
Give Your Credit Score Some Love
A bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for seven to ten years, depending on how you filed. The good news is that it isn’t permanent!
While you wait for bankruptcy proceedings to age off of your report, you should also consider the steps you can take to boost your credit score in the meantime. These can involve acquiring a secured credit card (a card backed up by a deposit) or, if it makes sense for you, asking somebody to cosign on a credit card application. Spending monthly on a card—and being sure to pay off your balance in full each month—is a great way to rebuild your score a bit faster.
Tracking your score is also a good idea—it can give you a sense of where you are heading, and make you feel proud of incremental improvements in your rating. There’s no need to be resigned to ten years of bad credit! Taking little steps now can set you on the right track.
Become a Budget Wizard
Budgeting is a simple tool, but too many people leave their monthly finances up to chance. After filing for bankruptcy, you have extra incentive to avoid missing bills or letting a credit card balance roll over from month to month, and budgeting is the best way to make sure that you are prepared.
Take advantage of budgeting tools to avoid having to manage manual entries. These also allow you an up-to-date look at your finances. It’s always good to know where your money is going.
Save for Emergencies
One critical part of budgeting is saving for emergencies. Put a little bit aside each month for long-term savings and a little bit for routine emergencies—that way a rusted-out car battery or an overflowing won’t doesn’t send you running to savings, or even worse, relying on credit to get by.
You can also run your budget by your financial advisor. They should be able to give you advice and help you find ways to save.
Business as Usual (Sort Of)
Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t signify the end of your business. In fact, one of the purposes of bankruptcy law is to allow entrepreneurs a second chance, and many businesses that file for bankruptcy eventually thrive.
Because obtaining business financing after bankruptcy can be tricky, one option is to negotiate new contracts with your vendors. While big banks might be wary, a trusted vendor has an incentive to retain you as a customer, and may be willing to continue working with you under renegotiated terms.
If you’re opening a new business, consider seeking financing from community banks or credit unions, soliciting investors, or finding grants or loans offered by local community organizations. You should also be sure to have a solid business plan to help you gain financing—and to allow your accountant or business consultant to spot any red flags and provide feedback accordingly.
Although filing for bankruptcy isn’t anybody’s first choice, there are many situations in which it is the wisest path forward. And once you’ve filed, everything that you do next is about securing a solid financial future.
To learn more about taking a proactive approach to your finances and future business building through bankruptcy, get in touch. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the process, and refer you to professionals and resources to get you on track.