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4 Credit tips to help you finish the summer well

Sep. 3, 2013 at 1:03 PM ET

Summer is almost over. Labor Day weekend is now behind us, and it’s time to get back to the normal routine.

It’s not uncommon to put things aside at the end of August, as we try to squeeze the most out of summer. While some things can be put off in the short term, your credit is not one of them.

It’s so much easier to maintain healthy credit it than it is to rebuild unhealthy credit. So instead of ignoring bills or outstanding debt in favor of one last day of sipping lemonade in the backyard, take a few minutes to deal with them.

Here are four tips to help you finish summer well:

  • Don't tackle all of your credit-related papers in one sitting. Instead, spend five minutes every day handling them. This will maximize your daily fun time but keep one toe dipped in the pool of responsibility so you don't ignore your credit. You should pull a copy of your credit report for free from one of the three major bureaus. You can also check your credit score for free using the Credit Report Card.

  • As you get your paperwork, prioritize it. Some of it doesn't have to be dealt with until the kids are back in school. But some of it should be a priority now – specifically, the bills that need to be paid on time in order to avoid hurting your credit.

  • Stick to your budget. This is so hard to do at this time of year, but it's so important to make sure that you have enough money in your account to keep your bills paid in full and on time. An extra ice cream cone is OK, but now is not the time to slack on paying bills.

  • Stay vigilant with your credit. Identity thieves are busier than ever, stealing information and using your good credit for their nefarious purposes. And when you're at the beach or the pool or on the deck, your defenses are down and your wallet, purse or cellphone might be left out where they can find it.

--Jeanne Kelly

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