A brighter financial future comes with building – and rebuilding – credit

For most people, the keys to their financial future are already in their pocket. While it’s true that market fluctuations have an effect on our economy, careful planning and smart habits will take you further than you might have imagined. Above all, taking positive steps today to take care of your credit can help set you on the road to sound finances.

It’s important to remember, too, that even if the difficult past few years have taken a toll, you can repair credit. Keeping a positive perspective on the hard work required to improve your financial picture will make the process easier – remind yourself that poor credit doesn’t have to last forever.

If you find yourself further along in life without having developed a credit history, don’t think it’s too late to start. Many young people don’t start their credit histories on a good note, and you have an opportunity to make a strong foundation, right from the start. For those people who are new to the United States, establishing credit can be a unique challenge. Many times, credit that’s been established in a home country can be lost during the immigration process, so building a good credit history here in the US becomes essential to future financial success.

The sooner you start to build – or rebuild – your credit, the sooner you’ll be making a difference in your ability to make important milestone purchases, like cars or a home. But even beyond purchasing power, improving or establishing credit can help build a stronger financial profile that future employers might consider in hiring you. It’s become increasingly common for companies that are hiring to check potential employees’ credit, as a gauge of their financial responsibility.

Consider these steps to building a positive financial future through credit:

* Using a secured credit card. If your credit isn’t as good as you’d like it to be, or if you’ve never had a credit card, it can be hard, if not impossible, to get one. However, options like Wells Fargo’s Secured Card not only act as a payment option, but as a way to build and repair credit. With a secured card, you deposit funds into an account, which is held as collateral. If you use the card responsibly, making payments as necessary, you’ll be establishing a pattern of positive use that will be sent to credit reporting agencies, and could improve your credit score.

* Make payments on time – for all your bills. Whether it’s for your credit card, your phone, your electricity, rent or other utilities, it’s essential to not delay payments. Late and missed payments put your creditworthiness into doubt for the ratings agencies that establish your credit score. It’s a good idea to set up automatic or recurring payments to keep you on track – then you’ll never miss a due date if a bill goes missing.

* Make a budget and stick to it. To be sure that you can pay your bills – and pay them on time – it’s important to establish a budget. Look at all of your monthly expenditures, add them up and compare against your income. If funds are tight, look for places where you can make cuts – both minor and major – to ensure that all your bills get paid.

The most important factor in building and rebuilding credit is perseverance. By taking regular actions to pay bills, manage your budget and use credit wisely, you can look forward to more financial opportunities in the future. For more information on building strong credit, visit Wells Fargo’s Smarter Credit(TM) Center.