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The phrase “filing for bankruptcy” has a certain stigma attached to it. For many, it implies a future full of restrictions and limited possibilities. The fact is, bankruptcy is a legitimate legal tool and can be used to reduce debt so that you can start over. It’s not the end, but a new beginning.

It’s simply not true that you’ll never be able to get credit again. Here are some things you can do to repair your credit after bankruptcy and get back on the road to financial success.

Make a budget

This is one of the most important things you can do. Too much debt is what leads to bankruptcy, so don’t go down that road again. Know how much money is coming in and what your expenses are. Put this in writing each month. List both your income and expenses. If your expenses exceed your income, you need to make some adjustments. Your goal should be to have five to 10 percent of your income left at the end of the month for savings.

Pay your bills on time and in full

Payment history makes up 35 percent of your credit score, and late payments damage your credit. Conversely, payments made on time can quickly rebuild your credit score. Establish a system – on a calendar, in a notebook or on your phone – to keep track of bill payment dates. Don’t aim to pay your bills right on time, but ahead of time.

Get a secured credit card

You can use a secured credit card like a normal credit card. You simply give the bank (or other financial institution) a deposit of perhaps $500. Then you have a $500 line of credit. Pay your bill in total and on time every month, and you’ll gradually begin to build a good credit rating. Once you’ve got some good credit, you can get a retail or gas credit card as well.

Don’t close accounts

Part of your credit score is determined by looking at how much you owe relative to how much credit you have available. Your total credit limit decreases when you close accounts. This raises the percentage of how much you owe, and lowers your credit score. So it’s actually better to let an account remain dormant than close it.

You can rebuild credit after bankruptcy!

Ultimately, what drags your credit score down the most is a mountain of debt that keeps accumulating interest and late fees. With that in mind, bankruptcy is not really the end of the line. It can be the first step toward repairing your credit. By following these simple steps, you can begin to take control of your finances, rebuild your credit record, and take advantage of endless opportunities in the not-too-distant future. Yes, you can soon be on the road to financial success again!