With so much discussion about the importance of credit scores, it can be very easy to get scared. You hear all the time about how bad credit can ruin your chances at getting a mortgage, a home, a car, or even a job. While you may hear about the effects of bad credit scores, very little gets publicized about how to fix those credit scores to get your financial life back together. Here are some helpful tips for repairing your credit score.

1. Check your credit score

Before you freak out about fixing your credit score, find out exactly what your current credit score is. Everyone is entitled to a free yearly credit score check on the three major credit reports- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion- that are owed to you by the FDIC. Each of these reports make up part of your credit score and fill in the blanks as to what you are lacking in your current credit score. A good credit score is above 660.

2. Create payment reminders and monitor accounts

Paying your bills on time is a huge factor in how well you fare on a credit score. If you are a chronic late payer, it may pay off to set up weekly and monthly reminders as to when bills are due. If you are coming up short at the end of the month, assess your budget and figure out what needs to go in order to pay all of your bills, particularly credit card and other account fees, in a timely fashion. Also be wary of over drafting accounts and racking up bounced checks and other fees, as these can be detrimental to your credit score.

3. Get current and stay current

If you are in debt, it can feel like a vicious cycle that you cannot break out of. Many debtors find that, after missing one payments, subsequent payments are also always late. In order to get out of the whirl pool, take the time to payoff the worrisome debt in full or as close to full as you can, so that you can get ahead and stay ahead. This will allow you to focus on other debts and on bouncing your credit score back up to an acceptable number.

4. Know how long things stay on your credit report

Actions like paying off collection accounts can seem like a cure-all, but these do not fix everything. Collection accounts remain on the record for 7 years after the fact, so you must look at other ways to clear your report.

5. If the ends are still not meeting, meet with a credit counselor.

Do not go to the first person advertised. Find a legitimate credit counselor and bring all of your financial documentation. With the counselor, come up with a plan of attack to best handle the debt you have and ensure you can stay out of debt in the future. Financial health= good credit.