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Four Things You Can Do To Raise Your FICO Score

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Have you just exited bankruptcy and want to prepare for some big life changes such as buying a house or new car? You’ll want to first improve your FICO score. FICO is the score used by lenders to help them determine if you’re a good credit risk. While standards vary by lender, a FICO score above 640 should get you a pretty decent loan. But a little improvement never hurt anything. Below are a few things you should do to improve your FICO score:

1. Use your credit cards. It’s understandable that you want to be frugal after bankruptcy, but having an inactive credit card on your credit report can actually bring down your FICO score. To avoid problems, try to use your card at least once every few months, but pay it off immediately.

2. Get more credit. If you have a short credit history with very little credit line variety, make sure you get at least one type of various credit lines. For example, having both a credit card and installment loan is a good way to improve your FICO score and show lenders that you can manage different types of debt.

3. Don’t keep your credit cards at the limit. If you’re keeping a balance on your credit card try to keep it at no more than 50% of your available credit. Lenders will shy away from anyone who is maxing out their credit line. That screams credit risk.

4. Don’t become a credit hound. While exiting bankruptcy is an exciting time to rebuild your finances, chasing after too many credit lines can drag down your FICO score. Choose a small number of credit applications to fill out so that you don’t appear desperate for credit.

If you want to make the most of your post-bankruptcy life, create a strategy to improve your FICO score.

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Bankruptcy Filers: What is your secret? What makes you human?

fresh-financial-start-bankruptcyThe other night as I was engrossed in a murder mystery series on television, I found myself struggling to keep up with the twists and turns as the plot developed. Each and every character had so many secrets; ones you would never had known existed had they not fallen to their knees and confessed to them in the final scene.

It made me think of the board game Clue. Did you ever play it? Entertainment based on the same principle, it is a murder mystery game designed to sharpen your detective skills by identifying the scene of the murder, the weapon used and the murderer themselves. Hours of fun could be had with this game, as you would tactically choose different strategies to either withhold or provide information to the other players in the game, determining the likelihood of anyone solving the crime.

This got me thinking. What information have you shared with those around you, and what do you withhold?Maintaining that element of mysteriousness and privacy is a human survival instinct – we are protecting ourselves. Secrets – we all seem to have them, hidden behind the smiling exterior we want everybody else to see and believe… such is the complexity of human nature.

I tried to apply this to my own situation, and thought about what information I withhold from those around me. To the frustration of those closest to me, I am very private by nature and much more of a listener than a talker. For example: despite my young age, I have moved abroad twice, most recently to America. And I can honestly say it has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I kept this a secret from my nearest and dearest, but adjusting and integrating into a completely different culture, coupled with the financial stresses of such a move, really took its toll on me. I often wondered if I made the right choice, and so eventually decided to share my burden with my family. I wanted to turn this around, and focus on the positives. They helped me see that despite everything, the move strengthened me. It showed me new experiences, new cultures, new people…a way of life that was new and interesting to me. I learned from it. As they said, this was a great opportunity for me – regardless if it turned out to be the wrong one – and that nothing is permanent. If you don’t like something, change it. It was my chance to start fresh, somewhere new. Similar to those struggling financially, I was offered a clean slate to build a life again.

So perhaps this was a little longwinded in getting the message across, but I just want to convey that no matter how bleak things may seem, you too can start fresh and learn from your experiences, as I did through mine. Your struggles are not permanent. If you don’t like your financial situation, you can take the necessary steps to change it. You can take the required Credit Counseling and Debtor Education, to get you on your way to having your debts discharged. You can also learn about budgeting, and research financial rebuilding tools to help get you on your feet afterwards. And in the meantime, try sharing your financial worries with those closest to you…as mentioned several times on this blog, a problem shared is a problem halved.

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Authors To Inspire You Through Bankruptcy: Stephen King

stepsSwitching our focus onto more contemporary, modern day authors, the Affordable Bankruptcy Courses road of blogging has brought us to the doorstep of Stephen King. If you are a fan of science fiction, fantasy and horror novels, then his books are definitely for you. Don’t like reading? Then try one of the many feature films adapted from his books: The Shining, Rose Red, The Green Mile, The Mist, It, Misery, Carrie to name a few. Quite frankly, it seems almost impossible to not have seen or read anything by the genius that is Stephen King. However if you are one of the unfortunate few (yes, his books really are that good) reading this article who are hearing of him for the very first time, then prepare yourself for a literary awakening!

During a time as difficult as bankruptcy, you may be feeling at your most vulnerable. But it is important to stay smart. As King wrote, “The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.” Don’t let people take advantage of you during your period of financial distress. Make sure you choose an experienced, licensed bankruptcy attorney and know what questions to ask when preparing to file and have your debts discharged.

As difficult as it may sound, try not to let bankruptcy consume your thoughts, feelings, days, nights…life in general. Every day may not be wonderful, but there is some wonder in every day. “You can’t deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants.” Put simply, happiness is important. If you need to laugh, laugh! Laughter is one of the best medicines, and everybody deserves the chance to be happy – don’t let bankruptcy deny you of this simple joy.

“When asked, ‘How do you write?’ I invariably answer, ‘one word at a time.’”

When faced with the concept of having to file for bankruptcy, what is the best way to approach it? One step at a time. Trying to take on everything at once will only add even more stress to the process, which you don’t need. Try to break things down into smaller pieces – remember, a burden shared is a burden halved. For example, first set your mind on finding an EOUST-approved bankruptcy course provider, to offer you the Credit Counseling and Debtor Education required to file for bankruptcy and have your debts discharged. Only when you have completed these, should you mentally take on the next challenge. Don’t overwhelm yourself. There are tools and resources out there to help you repair and rebuild after you have completed filing too. You are not alone!

One word that cannot be associated with the bankruptcy process is ‘fun.’ In fact, on first glance it may seem difficult to find positive associations – although this has been challenged in one of our past blog entries. We would recommend you give it a read and see if it changes your perspective! Furthermore, Stephen King had a very positive life philosophy, and believed heavily in learning through experience. He said, Every book you pick up has its own lesson or lessons, and quite often the bad books have more to teach than the good ones.” So even though bankruptcy is hardly ideal in comparison to financial success, just think of the lessons you are learning throughout the process. You can, and will, get through this. All it takes is a positive mental attitude.

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Authors To Inspire You Through Bankruptcy: Jane Austen

jane-austenArguably one of the most widely read writers in English literature, Jane Austen has become almost iconic for her works of romantic fiction. She is the genius behind ‘Sense & Sensibility’,‘Pride & Prejudice’ and ‘Emma’, and, even to this day, her novels are a key component of English literature syllabuses across the world – and now too, on the Affordable Bankruptcy Courses blog ;).

Have you read Pride & Prejudice? If not, then we would definitely recommend it. It is a classic; a love story centered on societal differences and how true love always prevails. In her novel, Austen teaches us the valuable difference between vanity and pride – “Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us” – and the importance of knowing this distinction. During a time as difficult as filing for bankruptcy, there is no scope to waste energy worrying how others perceive us, even though the temptation to do so may be overwhelming. At the end of the day, as long as you survive the experience and recover from it – keeping your pride– then what does it matter what other people think? Use bankruptcy as your opportunity for growth. If the opinions of others really are important to you, then twist things around. Show people how you can bounce back when life throws obstacles your way.

 Austen wisely wrote, “Angry people are not always wise.” In saying this, she means that a decision made in the heat of anger is rarely the right one. Do not act rashly, in the heat of the moment. Perhaps it was impulsive purchasing behavior that caused your financial struggles in the first place – or perhaps not? Either way, you are bound to feel anger and frustration as you come to terms with filing for bankruptcy, but acting based on these emotions is never a good idea. Make sensible, rational decisions when you are feeling calm. Take the first steps and sign up for the Credit Counseling and Debtor Education required for filing, and watch your life change for the better.

“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control.” When you are experiencing a moment of sadness, losing that bright, happy spark that all your friends and family know and love you for – stop. All is not lost. You may have ‘lost’ this particular battle with your money, but you have not lost the financial war. You still have many other endearing qualities, and self-control can be one of them. Use this experience to bounce back. Get yourself on your feet and start saving, budgeting, and rebuilding for your future.

In doing this, you are proving to yourself just how strong and resilient you can be when times are tough. “Till this moment I never knew myself.” What have you learned from the bankruptcy process? Has it shown you a side of yourself that you never previously knew existed? Sometimes it takes a life-changing experience such as bankruptcy, to teach you more about yourself, your strengths and your capabilities. And that notion alone may be that small – but bright – light at the end of your financial tunnel. Head towards it, and change your life for the better.

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Authors To Inspire You Through Bankruptcy: George Orwell

spending-bankruptcyBy now, by regularly reading the Affordable Bankruptcy Courses blog, you know all too well the true value of inspirational and motivational words of wisdom during a time as stressful as filing for bankruptcy. You will also know that you are not alone, and the emotions you are feeling during this time are entirely normal, and are commonly experienced amongst the hundreds of thousands of filers every year. Once you have accepted these as truths – and as Orwell once wrote, “Happiness can only exist in acceptance,” – then you are able to move onto the next phase mentally: tackling the problem and ensure it does not occur again in the future.

Remember you are just one person. You are not a superhero. No one is expecting you to remain strong throughout the entire process. It is completely acceptable to experience emotion, and have moments of weakness. Orwell himself expressed the notion that “In the face of pain there are no heroes.” You are only human. Bankruptcy is painful, and it would be unusual for you to not react to this pain. In trying to remain strong for the sake of saving face, you are increasing your mental stresses during an already trying time. Do not take on the mental burden of a team of people. Take things at your own pace, and remember, “The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.” Bankruptcy didn’t creep up on you overnight; neither will it disappear overnight. You can’t strive for perfection and expect everything to be rectified instantly. But in taking small steps to improve your financial situation, you are headed in the right direction.

“The consequences of every act are included in the act itself.”

Never was a truer word spoken! This phrase is perfect in defining the vicious bankruptcy cycle that so many people fall victim to every day. In spending more than your budget allows, the consequences are…what? That you fall into debt and don’t have enough money to live on. In short, spending more money than you have, results in not having enough money to spend…

…which then results in more overspending…

…meaning you do not have enough money to buy the things you need…

…so you continue to spend beyond your means…

And the vicious cycle continues. So how can you break it? For starters, you can budget! In learning the essential concepts for managing your spending and saving patterns, you are making a great start. If you are already in a situation of severe financial distress, then perhaps you should consider filing for bankruptcy. Affordable Bankruptcy Courses offers the required Credit Counseling and Debtor Education in order for your debts to be discharged. Our courses are EOUST-approved, and online only – there is no phone call required for certification! Our website has more information on fulfilling your bankruptcy requirements, or alternatively you can leave a comment in the section below and a member of our team will respond to your inquiry within 24 hours.      

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Authors To Inspire You Through Bankruptcy: Oscar Wilde

dublinOscar Wilde. Arguably the most popular playwright of his time, it is the general consensus that even today, his teachings hold relevance in society. You would be hard pressed to find a modern day English Literature syllabus without the teachings of Oscar Wilde, as so much can be learned from his written word. And it is not hard to see why – in writing this post, we actually had trouble narrowing down the few quotes to use, because so many were useful and applicable to the message we are trying to convey to our readers.

Oscar Wilde was a literary genius. He famously said, “Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” In saying this, he means that we learn the most valuable, important lessons through experience alone. Being taught such things from others is no substitute for having gone through it yourself. Now by no means are we suggesting people should deliberately put themselves in undesirable financial situations, but according to Oscar Wilde, knowledge is no substitute for experience. Put into context; struggling financially is the best way to learn first-hand about financial management, as opposed to hearing through the grapevine that you should cut down on your spending, or that learning to budget would be beneficial for your bank balance. So despite the seriousness of your financial situation right now, there are positives you can take from it.

Right now, are your thoughts consumed by bankruptcy? Are you thinking that you have nothing left that could possibly be of any value? Think again. “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.” Put simply, focusing entirely on money means you may be overlooking things that are valuable in other ways. Something doesn’t have to have a monetary value to be valuable to you. How about the value of friendships, laughter and the enjoyment you get from your favorite past times? These can all lift you up during your financial struggles and help you to remember that bankruptcy is not the end. It is just a flip on your financial radar.

Wilde was very good at noticing the similarities and differences between people, and tying these into his core life philosophies. “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars,” and “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all,” are just two examples of this. He is highlighting that despite being all the same – all being ‘in the gutter – our perspectives and visions determine our direction in life. To the few of us that aim high – ‘some of us are looking at the stars’ – then that is the way we can elevate ourselves to success and greatness, and out of the gutter. The second quote has the same message; it is the rare few who see things differently and get that little bit extra out of life – in doing so, they are living as opposed to just existing.

Are you living, or just existing? Are you letting your bankruptcy take over? If the answer to this is yes, then it is time to plan a strategy. Look for a reputable provider for the required Credit Counseling and Debtor Education to file for bankruptcy. Affordable Bankruptcy Courses offers the EOUST-approved online courses available in both English and Spanish, with no phone call required for certification.

The bankruptcy process is tough, but it is a learning curve. Try to ask yourself what you can take away from the situation you are in now. What have you learned? Perhaps you could reconsider your spending and saving patterns, and how you could reduce your overspending.  After all, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

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Authors To Inspire You Through Bankruptcy: Emily Dickinson

famaous-author-bankruptcy-inspirationFamous for capturing the hearts of millions through her written word, Emily Dickinson is the next author to feature in the Affordable Bankruptcy Courses “Authors To Inspire You Through Bankruptcy” series. An American poet born in 1830, Emily’s brilliance was sadly not discovered until after her death, when collections of her poetry became available to the public. Since then, she has been revered as a highly influential American poet – and even now, is considered one of the most important to date.

During bankruptcy, it is easy to become preoccupied with thoughts and stresses concerning your finances, but it is important to try and keep things in perspective. As Dickinson wrote, “Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.” By this, she is saying that you may be struggling, but you are alive! And instead of just surviving, you want to live. Do not let bankruptcy rule your life, as difficult a concept as that may seem right now. Take things slowly. Set yourself milestones – for example, learning how to budget effectively – and find happiness in accomplishing these. Find joy in the small things, for you may soon realize they were actually the big things. Appreciate your friends and family during this difficult time, and partake in your favorite past times to remind yourself of what it feels like to enjoy each day and be happy.

She had a quirky way of getting her message across; by placing a lot of significance in simple phrases that require several real-throughs before the true concept and meaning is properly grasped. For example, upon first glance, Dickinson’s phrase “forever is composed of nows,” could be deemed confusing. What exactly does it mean? Does it even make sense? In short, yes. By living in each moment – each ‘now– and making decisions and adopting attitudes based on the here and now, you are determining your future – your ‘forever. Who you are now, and the decisions you make now, determine the path you take and the person you will become. So make the decision to tackle your bankruptcy. Take the required Credit Counseling and Debtor Education courses, and get on the road to a fresher financial future.

Dickinson believed highly in the power of possibility. Her work itself is scattered with possibility, in encouraging her readers to adopt her positive ‘can do’ attitude – “I believe in possibility…dwell in possibilities…the possible’s slow fuse is lit by the imagination.” In saying this, she is reinforcing the fact that your mind has more influence than you may realize.  Tell yourself you can do something, and your world opens up. Possibilities only become apparent when you open your mind up to them; when you imagine. Imagine you can get through this bankruptcy filing, and you will. You will become a stronger person because of it. How are we so sure? Well as a wise American poet once said, “A wounded deer leaps highest…”In being ‘wounded’ by bankruptcy, when you shakily stand up on those deer legs of yours, you are going to be able to jump higher than you ever could before. Why? Because you went through an incredibly difficult, life-changing situation…and survived.

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