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Foreclosure is devastating to homeowners. Losing your home because your financial situation isn’t what it once was is tragic, and it’s not something many homeowners get over easily. It’s embarrassing, it’s damaging to your credit, and it impacts you negatively for seven years. Consumers who experience foreclosure are less likely to suffer from it as much as the years go on, but it does affect your credit score significantly when you first lose your home. It feels like the most awful thing that’s ever happened to you in the moment. It’s bad, but it’s not going to make you feel this way forever. If you can get through the first few years of a foreclosure, you’re on your way to a more positive credit history and a more positive lifestyle.

One of the most commonly asked questions following foreclosure is how a consumer can repair his or her credit. It’s not something that’s easily done right away. It’s nearly impossible to do it right away, and it’s something you must work on as the years progress. If you want to repair your credit and improve it following a foreclosure, there are a few things you can do to help.

Get to Know Your Finances

The best thing you can do when it comes to repairing your credit is to get to know your finances. There are good reasons you were put into the situation where a foreclosure occurred. For some, it’s a simple job loss that put the over the edge. For others, it’s poor spending habits and a negative relationship with your finances. To improve your credit, you must improve your financial future. This is easier when you get to know your finances carefully. What do you owe to creditors? What do you bring home? How much are you spending on unnecessary items? What are you buying that makes it impossible for you to afford to pay for your home? Get to know your finances, your spending habits, and your routines and begin making changes.

Work with Patience

Improvement won’t occur overnight. Your credit score isn’t going to change right away. It won’t change much for a few years. A foreclosure is a very negative item, and it makes the rest of the items on your credit report look less important. You’ll need ample patience to get through this time.

Pay Your Bills

The most important thing to do when you go through foreclosure is continue to pay your other bills. Don’t neglect them or miss any payments. It’s more important now than ever before to include positive items on your credit report. Every on-time payment or paid off credit card is imperative now more than ever. While these items have nowhere near the same effect on your credit score as your foreclosure, they are only going to help.

Pay Off Your Debt

Now is the best time to pay off other debts you have. Your future looks brighter when you have fewer debts. Take the money you have now budgeted and apply it toward your debts, and make it a goal to get them paid off as quickly as possible. Don’t close your credit card accounts, however. You’ll need these because you don’t have good credit anymore, and no one else is going to provide you with a new credit card if it turns out you need one in the future.

Focus this time on repairing your credit by improving your credit utilization ratio. This is one of the biggest factors used to determine your credit score. Lowering it will help your score following a foreclosure. Ideally, your utilized credit should be no more than 30% of your total available credit. If it’s more than that, pay off as much as you can while you work on paying it off. The less you utilize the more your score goes up.

Don’t Cancel Old Cards

Your old cards are important right now. A foreclosure is a big deal, but the age of your credit history is also important. If you still have your first credit card, your credit history is longer. It’s also positive longer, which is something lenders and creditors look for when they check your credit. You want to keep old accounts, because they help your score look better.

Use Your Credit Card

The idea is to pay it off and have no debt, but you must use your credit card. It’s more important now than ever to prove you can use credit responsibly. Be sure you’re only using it to purchase what you can afford to pay cash for so that you can use that cash to pay your credit card in full at the end of each month. You don’t want that credit revolving, but you do want to use the card to show you can use it without causing issues or going into debt.

A good idea for those who are not comfortable using it to make regular purchases is to use it to make your everyday purchases. Use it to pay your mortgage and your utilities. Use it to pay your bills, buy your groceries, and to fill your gas tank. Now take the cash you typically use for these items and pay off the bill when it’s due. It’s a great way to use your card without charging unaffordable items.

Your credit is affected negatively for a long time following a foreclosure, but you don’t have to sit back and let it consume you. Continue to use it wisely, to pay your bills on time, and to manage your finances. It’s the best way to ensure you can get your score up as quickly as possible once the foreclosure begins to age a bit on your credit report.