Fall can be one of the most exciting seasons of the year. For many, it’s a wonderful time filled with family gatherings and celebrations. But it can also be a busy and stressful time with kids going back to school and the transition into the holidays.

With so many things happening all at once, it’s easy to forget the day-to-day responsibilities and slowly begin to drift away from your routine. During busy times, it’s important that you maintain a plan – especially when it comes to your finances.

Well Fargo recently conducted the third installment of its “How America Buys and Borrows” survey. The survey reveals most Americans feel their personal financial situation is moderate to strong and few expect things to decline in the coming year. Looking ahead, 48 percent of Americans expect their situation to improve – though that expectation is much higher among African American respondents at 66 percent.

At Wells Fargo, we want to help our customers turn that positive thinking into reality. This fall, we offer these 10 tips that can help you stay on top of your credit:

  1. Monitor your credit regularly. Make sure you stay on top of your credit history. Be sure to check all three credit bureaus annually.
  2. Know your credit limits. Being close to or maxing out your credit limits may negatively impact your credit score.
  3. Good score = good rates. Better credit score may get you better credit interest rates.
  4. Don’t be late. The first missed payment has the largest impact on a credit score, so don’t miss payments. If you are late, don’t be 30 days late, and if you have difficulty, call your lender.
  5. Know your debt-to-income ratio. Lenders look at the amount of debt you have compared to your monthly income – it’s good to keep that under 35 percent.
  6. Start with a college or secured credit card. If you need to establish credit, a secured credit card or a college credit card may be a good way to start.
  7. Pay down highest interest rates first. When trying to pay down your existing debt, pay down your highest interest debt first.
  8. Live within your means. By setting a budget and living within your means, you can avoid using credit to overextend yourself.
  9. Pay more than the minimum. Paying more than what’s due on your credit card helps you pay down debt faster and can improve your credit score.
  10. Set up alerts. Set up email and text alerts, as well as autopay, to help ensure that you pay your bills on time and build positive credit history.

Strong credit is the key to a healthy financial future. It also helps with routine matters like having utilities connected to your home, getting a cell phone or even applying for a job.

This fall, Wells Fargo is supporting Get Smart About Credit through the entire month of October to build awareness on the importance of credit. But most importantly, Wells Fargo is encouraging consumers to have a conversation about credit not only during this buy time, but throughout the year. For more information about credit, you can visit Smarter Credit™ Center at www.wellsfargo.com/smarter_credit or its Hands on Banking® site at www.handsonbanking.org.

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