If you have a credit card balance, pay as much as you can above the minimum each month.
If you receive gift money, a bonus, a second job or a tax refund, use this to pay off your debt. You can even make micropayments multiple times during the month to pay off your balance faster. Eat a meal at home and immediately apply the money you saved to your credit card balance.
Before the first bills come in, decide who will pay them and when this will take place.
If you have separate accounts, know which account pays each bill. Also notify creditors of your name change and new address.
Reduce your debt-to-available credit ratio.
This will help improve your credit score. Your monthly debt, including your mortgage, should not exceed 35% of your gross income.
Each spouse should have a credit card in his or her own name to build an individual credit score.
Keep that card for a long time. Use the card for several purchases each month and pay the bill in full immediately. Building a long term payment history with one or two credit cards is an important factor in your credit score.
--By Bill Hardekopf
Bill Hardekopf is chief executive of LowCards.com, which compares and rates more than 1,000 credit cards. He is the co-author of "The Credit Card Guidebook."