As experts in bankruptcy law in Wisconsin, we’ve seen a whole range of financial situations that cause individuals and families to file for bankruptcy. It’s certainly true that no two cases are exactly alike; however, there are very often common contributing factors involved in many of the bankruptcies we see.
As a premiere bankruptcy law firm in Milwaukee, we understand—perhaps more than anyone—the importance of bankruptcy law for protecting the lives and futures of families all over southeastern Wisconsin. Bankruptcy law exists so that people can have a fresh start and get back on the right track with their finances.
As we have mentioned many times in the past, we certainly understand there are many different unique situations that may lead a person or family to decide to file for bankruptcy, and it’s not our intention to paint with a broad brush. But in this post, we would like to talk a bit about some common tips for helping people get back on track after completing the bankruptcy process. While these tips aren’t applicable in all situations, we do find that following these few suggestions can be positive steps for many of our clients.
#1. Start Rebuilding Your Credit
If credit cards put you in a financial hard spot in the past, it’s likely you may be a bit wary of opening another account after a bankruptcy—not to mention the fact that you’ll also likely have a hard time being approved. But what many people don’t realize is that using credit cards is not the only way to build or re-build credit. If you are a renter, you can ask your landlord to report your on-time rent payment history to the credit bureaus. If you have a post-paid cell phone plan, paying your bill on time will also build your credit. And most people have utility bills as well. Pay them on time and in full and you’ll be on your way to building credit—all without having to do any borrowing.
#2. Start a Savings Account
This may seem counter-intuitive, especially if you are working hard just to make ends meet. You might think there is never any money left over for savings, but you may be surprised at how you can push yourself to get creative and make sure you have some money—even if it’s just a very little bit at first—to put away for savings. Research shows that having a savings account acts as a great “safety net” and can often prevent people from turning to things like payday loans or high-interest credit cards for emergencies.
#3. Reduce Your Bills
You might be saying to yourself, “I can’t reduce my bills—they are what they are.” While there are many bills you simply can’t avoid paying, it’s worthwhile to take a good, hard look at what you are paying out every month. Is there anything you can cut out and won’t miss all that much? And for bills that are a “must,” like utilities, find ways to try to decrease them by trying to conserve energy or running the heat just a bit lower. Make a point of using free wifi when available and reduce your cell phone data plan by a few dollars a month. Get creative!
#4. Set a Budget
Studies show many Americans don’t do any kind of household budgeting. Without a budget, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to keep track of how your money is coming and going. You can’t get control of your money if you don’t know anything about it. Start small if the process seems intimidating. Set a budget for one category, such as food/grocery and see how you do with it. As you get comfortable with tracking your money, start tracking more and more of it until you know how just about all of it is being spent or managed. You’ll be surprised at how much you may be spending on things you don’t think twice about, and you also might be surprised that some items that you assumed were costing you a lot aren’t actually costing you as much as you assumed. Get educated about your money and start making it work for you.
While the above tips certainly won’t apply to everyone, give some of the suggestions a try if you think they may be applicable to you. If you’re facing financial hardship and need information about your options under the bankruptcy law, contact Burr Law Office LLC today and let us work with you to find a solution that truly protects you and your future.