If you feel that your life has been wrecked by debt, don’t worry — you are truly in good company. A lot of people feel emotionally devastated by the role that debt has in their lives. Does it mean that they are bad people? Not at all — it just means that they’ve made some choices and mistakes that have led to having a lot more debt than they can handle. They might have assumed that they would never get fired, sick, divorced, or have to suddenly leave things behind. Life is uncertain, and the only thing that we can ever do is really just make sure that we have a way of dealing with the things that life throws at us.

If you’ve gotten out of debt, you might wonder if it’s ever going to be safe to build credit again. There are numerous debt solutions, including going out to declare bankruptcy. Even though bankruptcy tends to have a negative perception in popular culture, the reality is that there does come a time where debts have to be cleaned away in a bankruptcy. Yes, it does give you a big hit on your credit, but it’s only temporary. There will come a time where the sun will shine on a new credit life — if you’re strategic enough.

Notice that last line: if you’re strategic enough. That means that you not only have to come up with a smart plan for building credit again, but you also have to stick with it. There is no overnight solution for a top notch credit score. The people that have 700+ FICO scores after going through debt nightmares are the ones that planned, read up on everything that they could find, and then made sure that they stuck to their plan no matter what. They didn’t give up just because the road was long. They didn’t give up when their friends didn’t understand why they suddenly couldn’t spend a lot of money, and they didn’t take out a thousand credit cards and charge them sky high. Those habits — trying to keep up with others, buying things you don’t need and can’t afford, as well as getting a lot of credit cards are all what can really put you right back on the road to a high debt lifestyle. Isn’t that what you’re trying to escape?

Now, given all of those things, you might naturally assume that it’s never safe to build debt again. That’s just not the case at all. Credit is neutral — it’s not good, it’s not evil. It’s a tool that’s designed to be used to create anything you want. You might want to own a home someday. Unless you plan to buy your house in cash someday, you will need to take out a mortgage. Getting financing for the things that you want in life is debt as well, but it’s considered good because it allows you to get more out of life.

The same applies for people that want to go back to school. Going to get an education can indeed raise your chances of getting a great job compared to people without an education, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to do that in order to increase your income. There are people with no education that go out and start online businesses — don’t feel that there are limits in life to getting what you ultimately want. You just need to figure out how to build the plan that works for you.

However, good debt can also take a turn for the worse, especially if you end up getting in over your head. You cannot assume that your realtor or mortgage broker will necessarily keep you from getting too much house than what you can comfortably afford. Remember that the professionals that help you get a home are driven by commission. That’s not to say that there aren’t amazing real estate agents but you still have to realize that there are people that will encourage you to make bad decisions — even if their intentions are good. Some real estate agents feel that you only live once, and if you can afford it you should definitely get the more expensive home because it’ll have a better location and more features. In other words, it’s an investment. However, it’s more intelligent to get a modest home in a modest neighborhood with a price tag that you can afford.

It’s always a good time to build credit again, but you don’t have to run out and get credit cards. You can go down to your local credit union and take out a personal signature loan. These are very small loans that are usually just backed by your signature. The interest rate can be a little higher, but you’re only doing it to build your credit. If you pay it back on time, then you will see a boost in your credit score.

That’s the same with other things, such as a secured credit card. You don’t want to max out a card like this, because then you’re going to get a negative on your credit report. However, if you really do reach out and try to use secured credit cards wisely, you will build better credit over time.

Yes, that pesky time word is back in full effect — it will still take time to build credit. Don’t listen to anyone that says that they can virtually snap their fingers and get your credit score over 700 overnight. It just doesn’t work that way.

However, as long as you’re willing to work hard and raise your credit score, there’s nothing that you can’t achieve in life!