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How to Recover From a Financial Setback

Have you taken a financial hit recently? It's not too late to turn things around

After credit woes or major investment mistakes: Seek professional help

Nothing can deal a bigger blow to your confidence — and your finances — than making a major investment mistake. Whether it's watching your 401(k) go up in smoke, investing in a relative's business that goes belly up or simply picking a series of investment dogs, it's no fun watching your investments fail.

If you're just baffled about how to best manage your retirement assets, consider setting up a meeting with a financial planner or a financial adviser. You can find specialists and experts in your area via the Financial Planning Association and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Both are reputable groups with professionals who can evaluate your situation, help you create a financial plan and guide you toward your financial goals after a setback.

If budgeting blunders, credit issues and debt problems are plaguing you, seek assistance from a HUD-certified, nonprofit credit-counseling agency.

After divorce: Reestablish credit

Divorce can be a nasty matter, both emotionally and financially. But once the dust settles, you can recover from this setback, too.

From a financial perspective, you'll need to reestablish credit in your own name after a marriage breakup. To find out where you stand, get your credit reports from the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — via the government-mandated site, AnnualCreditReport.com. If you spot any credit errors, write to your creditors or the credit bureaus and dispute any mistakes.

To ward off other credit problems, get rid of all joint credit accounts you had with your former spouse and be sure to pay all bills on time to try to maintain your credit rating postdivorce.

If you don't have much credit in your own name, you might want to apply for a secured credit card, which requires you to pay cash upfront for a credit line. For those who have credit problems like bankruptcy, you may find that certain banks are willing to offer you a regular unsecured credit card fairly soon after your bankruptcy is discharged — primarily because lenders know you aren't eligible to file for bankruptcy protection again for years.

Next page: Build your emergency fund after a financial setback. »

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