Number 10 on stage © DSGpro-Getty Images

Perhaps you’ve filed for bankruptcy, or recently paid off credit card debt (or are trying to do so). Climbing back from the financial bottom is never easy, but the journey is worth the financial freedom at the end of it. Here are 10 steps to making a full financial recovery.

1. Identify your big goals

Focusing on your substantial goals, whether it’s traveling around the world or buying a house, can help keep you motivated. Write them down and display them prominently so when you feel tempted to indulge with an unnecessary outfit or restaurant meal, you can resist.

2. Do some introspection

What caused your financial troubles in the first place? If it’s a spending addiction or propensity to overuse credit cards, commit to changing those habits before they get you into a bind again. Budgeting websites like can help by sending alerts when you approach your spending limit.

3. Keep tabs on your credit score

Credit histories often contain inaccuracies, which unnecessarily lower your score. The website makes it easy to obtain a free credit report once a year. Combing through it and fixing any errors will keep your score from being weighed down unnecessarily as you work to improve your history.

4. Boost your credit score slowly

The surest way to improve your credit score is to pay off all of your credit accounts every month. After one year of steady payments, the score will start to improve, and within seven to 10 years, any prior damage from a bankruptcy filing will start to disappear.

5. Skip potentially fraudulent services

Companies promising to quickly repair your credit score or find you access to credit even with a low score should be treated with suspicion. That’s because fraudsters often target people who are struggling financially with promises that sound too good to be true (because they often are).

6. Get help

Everyone needs a support system, especially when they’re trying to break a bad habit like overspending. Find a solid group of friends or family members who you can count on to keep temptation in check by helping you plan fun and inexpensive activities and serving as a sounding board on tough days.

7. Schedule a weekly checkup

Either on your own or with your partner, sit down at least once a week to review spending patterns and recent purchases. That way, you can identify any potential problems before they snowball. Try to make it fun by talking money over your favorite beverage or snack.

8. Create a 'look book' for yourself

A photo montage of the goals you identified for yourself can help serve as a visual reminder of where you’re going. It’s something you can turn to when feeling frustrated or down about your progress to keep your motivation up.

9. Give yourself an allowance

A super-strict budget with no room for indulgences will quickly feel restrictive. Instead, give yourself an allowance, even a small one, to allow for some “fun” purchases, whether it’s the occasional high-end coffee or dinner out.

10. Stay on track

Along with revisiting your goals and weekly spending check-ins, it’s important to re-evaluate your whole approach on a regular basis, like once a quarter. That way, if any bad habits have re-emerged, or if you need to make more significant changes, you can consider them. It’s also a good way to coordinate with your partner or family members who are impacted by your money as well.

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