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Post-bankruptcy advice for Washington consumers

Washington residents who have had their bankruptcies discharged often are unsure of what their next steps should be. Below are five important things to do after your bankruptcy case has ended.

-- Make sure that you save all relevant documents related to your case.

Your bankruptcy petition contains very detailed information about your personal finances and should be filed away with all of your important documents. Once you have your bankruptcy discharged, make a copy of the order, along with any credit counseling certificates and the notice of filing, and save for future reference. This is important if your former creditors try to pursue discharged debts from you.

-- Make sure to check your credit reports at least annually.

All three major reporting agencies entitle consumers to one free report a year from each agency, so approximately half a year from your bankruptcy discharge, order and review your credit reports. Verify that all the discharged debts are reported with zero balances to begin the process of rebuilding your credit without the ghosts of old debts lurking.

-- Begin budgeting and keep track of your spending.

Having gone through one bankruptcy, you want to avoid making the same mistakes that lead to your perilous situation the first time.

-- Start socking away funds for an emergency.

Most of us are one disaster away from financial ruin. But you can forestall such dire circumstances, at least in the short term, if you have a nest egg built up that can sustain you through a crisis.

-- Begin planning how to acquire new credit.

It's understandable that consumers are gun-shy about credit after bankruptcy, but rebuilding your credit gives you the chance to control your finances instead of the reverse. Start slow and don't get in over your head.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy a second or subsequent time, consult with a bankruptcy law professional to help guide you in making the right choices.

Source: Credit.com, "5 Things to Do After Bankruptcy" Jan. 06, 2015

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