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Filing for bankruptcy is a major event in a person’s life, but should not be seen as the most horrible thing that could ever happen. Many people have the impression that bankruptcy is equivalent to moral and/or financial death, but that is not always the case. Bankruptcy is simply a way to get out from under insurmountable debt, make better financial decisions, and move on to better things.

Below are three things one must focus on to financially recover.

  1. Increase Income

Increasing income is a great way to recover from a bankruptcy. A lot of people focus immediately on reducing their spending — which is important — but they often ignore the other side of the coin. Higher income allows people to keep up with their bills and avoid debt spending in the first place, so it should be a major focus moving forward. Asking for a raise at work, getting a side job, and putting away money in a savings and investment account are all effective ways to increase income.

  1. Improve Spending Patterns

Along with making more money to keep up with living expenses, those recovering from bankruptcy should look closely at the spending behaviors that led up to bankruptcy in the first place. Reducing unnecessary expenses such as trips to the mall and eating out is a good place to start. Using coupons, shopping around for the best deals, and delaying impulsive purchases are also going to be necessary.

  1. Rebuild Credit

While those first two strategies will address the initial causes that often lead to bankruptcy, rebuilding credit is also extremely important. It might be the last thing on people’s mind right after filing for bankruptcy, but having good credit is important for larger purchases like getting a car, buying a home, and even things so small as getting a cell phone plan. Rebuilding credit after bankruptcy needs to be a priority. Secured credit cards are a great way to start. Following up with regular credit cards and paying off the balances every month will also help.

Recovering from bankruptcy doesn’t have to take the rest of one’s life. By making smart financial decisions, using self-discipline, and following the strategies above, anyone can recover from bankruptcy in just (hopefully) a few years and move on with their lives knowing that they are once again financially stable.