One of the biggest keys to maintaining a good credit score is to make sure that all bills are being paid on time and in full, but for some people, that can be easier said than done. Many Americans carry a number of accounts in their names, in addition to having other monthly financial concerns that they can't ignore, and for this reason it's vital to make sure you know how to prioritize correctly.

If you have accounts such as credit cards, an auto loan, a mortgage and student loans, you're probably in the same boat as a lot of other people across the country, in that sometimes you don't know how to prioritize these payments in addition to your utility bills, food costs, and other things that you need to pay for every single month. All these financial obligations can certainly add up over the course of a month, and might not leave you with a lot of wiggle room. For this reason, it might be time to evaluate which of your accounts should be addressed first when you're trying to get back to a strong credit standing.

The first step
When you're trying to get your debt payments under control so that you can find a better handle on your overall monthly finances, the best thing you can do to start is to simply figure out how much you're paying into what accounts, as well as for your other monthly costs, and if you can find any flexibility. If you can cut costs for some aspects of your non-credit obligations, and then put that savings toward reducing your debts, you will likely be able to make potentially significant headway toward a better standing.

Of course, at that point, you will be faced with the decision about which accounts you should contribute that additional money toward. It might be tempting to start by trying to pay down your largest debts — at least within reason; you probably won't make much of a dent in your mortgage with an extra $100 per month or so — but in reality, this might not be your wisest course of action. Instead, you should figure out which accounts are charging you the largest amount of interest, and try to reduce that instead. While this may seem somewhat counterintuitive, it's actually a wise course of action because it prevents your debt from growing as quickly as it had been in the past.

You should also try to keep in mind that when it comes to credit card debt, you'd do well to make sure you're paying down more than the listed minimum every month in general. The reason for this is that new federal laws now mandate that lenders must take any money contributed over the minimum on a bill and contribute it directly toward the principal balance, rather than any interest charges accrued over the life of the account. That, in turn, will make your debts shrink more quickly, and allow you to potentially get out from under that debt expediently as well.

When you're just starting out this process, it's also important to note that overall, your credit cards will generally carry the largest interest rates, so tackling those first is probably your best course of action for straightening out your financial situation.

Where to go next
Once you've started to get your credit card bills under control, or even paid down all the way, you'll likely have more money freed up every month to contribute to your other accounts, but you might also want to be careful. In some cases, lenders may penalize consumers for paying off balances in full before the end of a previously agreed upon loan period, so checking with the bank to determine whether that applies to you may help you avoid costly fees down the line (or to weigh whether the fees will still allow you to save money over the interest charges you would have faced).

The more debt you pay down in general, the more money you'll have freed up to devote to other needs, such as more bills, or even putting into savings. And at the same time, you'll probably also be able to count on a continually growing credit score which will make borrowing in the future more affordable.

Finally, an important part of addressing your debt concerns should also include regularly checking your credit reports to make sure no unfair markings are having a negative impact on your standing. If any such issues are discovered in the course of a routine check, you might want to consider the ways in which a credit repair company may be able to help you remediate the potential problems as quickly and easily as possible.

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