Best Financial Decisions after a Bankruptcy

Have you ever gone on a diet, hit a weekly goal, and then gone out to celebrate with a big bowl of ice cream, a gooey pizza, or an extra-cheesy order of loaded nachos? The next day you had a food hangover and the scale had you back up four pounds. You let your sense of accomplishment erase the progress you’d made, and if you’re not careful, the same thing can happen when you file for bankruptcy.

Between the relief that comes from collection calls stopping and the knowledge that you no longer have to worry about credit card bills, it’s easy to take your paycheck and splurge on something fun. But it’s much smarter to plan ahead for “discharge day” with a financial strategy that will help you get your economic footing back under you again. Follow the suggestions below and someday you’ll remember them as the best financial decisions you made following your bankruptcy.

  • Create a budget. It’s a disciplinary exercise that provides a framework for all future spending. Right down your fixed expenses that can’t be avoided, as well as variables like the average amount you spend on food, clothing, and extraneous expenses per month based on the last 3 months. Add on an amount for unexpected bills like for doctors’ appointments or repairs or gifts. Now look at your income and see if it covers those costs. If not, cut your irregular spending until you have enough to pay for everything as well as putting aside a bit for savings.
  • Log your expenses against your budget. Once you have a budget, start tracking your expenses against it in order to keep yourself honest. There are great apps to help you do this, or you can use an old-fashioned ledger. What’s most important is that you remain accountable to your plan.
  • Automate your savings. Whatever the amount of savings you figured that you could put aside, don’t leave setting the money aside to chance. Arrange for that amount of money to be directly deposited into a savings account so that you can avoid the temptation of spending it.
  • Limit yourself to using cash for the foreseeable future. If you don’t use credit cards, you can’t spend more than you have.
  • After you’ve gotten yourself into a well-disciplined spending pattern, sticking to your budget and managing your money, apply for a cash-based credit card in order to ease yourself back into the plastic habit. With that card in hand, review your expenses and see if the card led you to spend more than you had using cash only. If it did, go back to your cash until you’ve learned to control your use of plastic. Only once you’ve accomplished that should you apply for another credit card.

It’s easy to fall back into bad habits after filing for bankruptcy. The tips above can help. Contact our experienced bankruptcy attorneys for more guidance.