Filing for bankruptcy can be a difficult decision for Ohio residents, but it is sometimes the only way to stop creditor harassment, stop foreclosure, provide debt relief, and reduce interest payments. After filing for bankruptcy, many assume their credit is ruined. Though it will be noted on credit reports for seven years, there are ways to improve a credit score after filing.

The first step is to get on a budget. This is crucial to establishing good payment habits and saving money for emergencies. A budget should include all expenses, including debt payments, housing costs, discretionary spending, and savings. Since payment history is 35 percent of a total credit score, paying bills on time is vital to rebuilding credit. Setting aside an emergency fund should be a high priority in a budget, as this will eliminate the need to rely on credit cards or other loans in the event of an unexpected expense.

It’s important to keep track of credit history to ensure there are no errors on a credit report. Once a year, everyone is entitled to one free report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. It is a good idea to check each of these every year to make sure it is free from false information, duplicate reports, or judgments that should have been removed.

Any remaining credit balances should ideally be kept below 30 percent of available credit, but eliminating balances is a better option. Once a budget has been established and credit reports have been monitored, patience is the next and most important step. There are no shortcuts to rebuilding a credit history. It just takes time and attention to detail. A lawyer with experience in Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help explain the issues that will arise both before and after filing.