Financial peril can strike without regard to your status. Age, history, married, single, occupation, education – all are inconsequential. Only two things are important to remember. First, the government, through the Bankruptcy Code, has given Americans the chance to erase a significant portion of their debt and start fresh. And second, filing for bankruptcy does not mean you have to live with a bad credit score the rest of your life.

Many individuals will likely gain anecdotal insight regarding credit scores. Friends or family members are happy to provide advice they might have heard about in the past but might not ultimately be beneficial in your current situation. While everyone might have different ideas of how to rebuild their credit score after a bankruptcy, here are five tips we have found to be the most helpful.

  1. Keep paying non-bankruptcy accounts on time. Not all your debt will be included in the bankruptcy. Student loans, for example, typically cannot be discharged. Make sure you stay organized and continue making payments on all non-bankruptcy accounts.
  2. Get new credit – slowly. You can begin rebuilding your credit score by getting a new credit card. Don’t go too quickly, however, and sign up for a handful of new accounts.
  3. Keep your balances low and make payments on time. Related to the previous point, with a new credit card, keep your balances low and make payments (generally, you should pay more than the minimum payment) on time.
  4. Consider a co-signer. While you might like to prove your independence by not needing a co-signer, having a trusted family member’s name on your application can help you qualify for better terms while working to re-establish your credit.
  5. Avoid job-hopping. While it’s not typically a financial consideration, frequently changing jobs can reflect poorly on your loan applications. Lenders might hesitate to give you beneficial terms if they believe you to be undisciplined or irresponsible.

It’s a widespread myth that filing for bankruptcy will forever blight your credit score. While a bankruptcy can cause some damage, the damage is far less than what you experienced while missing payments and defaulting loans. It is wise to discuss your financial situation with a proven legal professional who can provide guidance uniquely tailored to your needs.