Bankruptcy provides Virginia residents with much-needed relief after struggling with finances for a considerable amount of time. However, once bankruptcy is said and done with, petitioners have a new concern, and that is, how can they begin to rebuild their credit? Fortunately, rebuilding after bankruptcy is not as difficult a task as one might assume and really only requires three essential steps.

According to Credit.com, one of the first things a person should do post-bankruptcy is to apply for a secured credit card. Before a person can begin to use his or her secured credit card, he or she must pay a deposit on the account. This deposit then secures the line of credit. How much a person must deposit depends on a number of factors, including his or her credit score and the particular credit card company. If the cardholder defaults on payments, the credit card company uses the deposit to pay off the debt.

Secured credit cards help in multiple ways. For starters, they help to rebuild credit after bankruptcy. Ideally, the cardholder should only use the card for small purchases, and he or she should pay the account off in full each month. To help do this, Credit.com suggests keeping the balance low. For the most impact, a consumer should select a card that reports to all three major credit agencies.

Credit.com also stresses the importance of monitoring one’s credit. Monitoring one’s credit allows him or her to track his or her progress and ensure all efforts make a positive impact, regardless of how small that impact may be. Once one begins credit restoration efforts, it does not take long for him or her to notice improvement.

NerdWallet also suggests that bankruptcy filers create a budget to help them stay on top of their finances. That budget should include an emergency fund, as research shows that those who have even as little as $250 in an emergency account are less at risk for running up credit card debt than those with no savings.