Once your Florida bankruptcy period ends, you should take advantage of your fresh financial start and make sure you never again get into serious financial trouble.

To help you do this, Credit.com recommends doing the following five things.

  1. Keep your paperwork

As tempting as it may be to toss all your bankruptcy paperwork, do not yield to this temptation. Instead, gather it all together, especially your bankruptcy petition, notice of filing, and notice of discharge, and put everything in a safe place so you can easily find it later if you need it.

  1. Begin budgeting

Make a list of all your monthly bills and the amounts you must pay for each. Remember to include the monthly equivalents of the bills you pay semiannually or annually, such as insurance premiums. Add them all together so you know exactly how much cash outflow you have each month. Then write down your monthly income. This way you’ll know how much wiggle room you have and whether or not you need to take measures to reduce your bills, such as for groceries or entertainment.

  1. Begin saving

Unfortunately, most Americans nowadays have little or any savings to see them through an emergency. This represents one of the main reasons why credit card balances get so high. Open a savings account and put whatever money you have left after paying your bills into it rather than blowing your extra money on things you do not need.

  1. Get your credit reports

You can get a free credit report each year from all three major credit reporting companies. Get all three of them about three months after you come out of bankruptcy and go over each one carefully to make sure no old debts are still listed that the bankruptcy court discharged. If you find any discrepancies, contact the company immediately.

  1. Get a credit card

Apply for a credit card. Unfortunately, your recent bankruptcy likely will put you in a position of having to get a prepaid, low balance and/or high interest card. Nevertheless, make a point of purchasing one or two small things with it each month and then paying off that balance in full on or before the payment due date. This is one of the quickest ways to improve your credit score.

The point of doing all these things is to start you on the path of financial responsibility so you never need to file bankruptcy again. This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.