Rebuilding Your Credit
Probably the most important work you will face post-foreclosure is rebuilding your credit.
While foreclosure has a very serious negative impact on your credit score, you can regain control of your finances with time and diligence.
Work to Improve Your Credit
Improving your credit will take several years, however the good news is that you can improve it over time. Following are several important tips that will help improve your credit:
- Always pay your bills on time and with at least the agreed upon amount
- Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving accounts
- Pay off debt instead of moving it around
- Don't apply for credit you don't need
- Do your rate shopping for a given loan within a short period of time
- Request a free copy of your credit report annually. By knowing what is on your credit report, you will be able to find the areas that you need to improve
- Check for errors on your credit report, and work with the credit-reporting agency to fix them
- Beware of fraudulent "credit repair" companies and report any suspicious activity immediately! There is no magic way to improve your credit, so be suspicious of any person or agency that says they can "fix" your credit – especially for a fee.
Build a Spending and Savings Plan
As you're working to rebuild your credit, you'll want to take a close look at your financial situation and assess how much money you need to live and how much debt you need to repay.
Following are some helpful tips from Freddie Mac's CreditSmart® Curriculum on creating a spending and savings plan:
- Determine your monthly net income, which is the income remaining after taxes and payroll deductions.
- List the fixed expenses you pay each month, including rent, utilities and car payment.
- List the variable expenses that could fluctuate a bit each month (e.g. groceries, gas, etc.).
- Set aside money each month for purchases you know you will need to make in the future, like haircuts, school supplies or clothing.
- Compare your income with your expenses. Look for ways to increase your income and decrease your spending.
- Establish short- and long-term goals for yourself. For example, in six months you may want to eliminate $100 in monthly expenses so you can put it into savings.
- Set a savings plan and stick to it. Work toward saving at least three months of expenses as your safety net.
- Always keep an emergency fund. Just like savings, you want to ensure you have the ability to pull from an emergency account without jeopardizing your monthly expenses.
- Plan ahead for major expenses, and avoid impulse buying.
Reach Out for Help
Did you know that housing counselors help millions of people regain control of their finances each year? These counselors often work for nonprofit organizations and are trained to help you determine your goals, rebuild your credit and get back on track if you've lost your home to foreclosure. There is no charge to work with HUD-approved counseling agencies.
Reach out now and don't be ashamed or embarrassed – they are here to help.
- Call the Homeowner's HOPETM Hotline at (888) 995-HOPE
- Call the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) at (800) 569-4287 or visit their web site for a list of approved housing counselors in your area
Foreclosure can be devastating, but it's important to know that you can recover. Establish short- and long-term goals, and stay focused on working toward them. In time you can get back on track.
Tools and Resources
Get Smart About Credit
Take our online, interactive training courses – now available in Spanish – to learn about credit, money management, and responsible homeownership.