If you’ve recently completed a bankruptcy filing, are in the process of filing, or are considering filing, the current and future state of your credit score is probably one of your main concerns. Getting your credit score back up to reasonable level will be easier than you might think and it can happen quickly — see “re-establishing credit” here.  Most of the following guidelines are pretty obvious, but it’s still helpful to have them written down to remind yourself to stay on the right track.

Making payments on time contributes to about 35% of your credit score. Therefore, it is extremely important to pay bills on time every time. Even missing a payment by a day or two can have a negative impact on your credit score, not to mention that making late payments can become a very bad habit. If you have any outstanding accounts, it is crucial that you pay off these balances and keep them current, since the more your payment habits start to show a positive pattern, the quicker and higher your credit score will increase.

When it comes to actual debt, you should never charge more than about 20% of your available credit limit.  High outstanding debt near your credit limit is a negative factor for your credit score.  Debt to credit limit ratio contributes to approximately 30% of your credit score. Keeping your balances on credit cards low will have a positive impact on your credit. Also, it is recommended that you pay your debts off as directly as possible without moving it around. Consolidating your debt into fewer accounts or spreading it out among more accounts will not have any positive effect on your credit, so long as the debt is still the same amount.

Most people are surprised to find that they receive credit card offers and automobile finance offers immediately after filing bankruptcy.  Take advantage of these offers but keep your balances low.  In two years, if you manage your credit properly, mortgage loan programs through the FHA are available to you — despite the fact that you filed bankruptcy.