Capital One Bank® is proud to support this special section of The Defender and, through it, provide information to help readers and their families learn and practice effective money management skills.

Maintaining your financial health is kind of like staying in good physical condition. Your credit requiresbalanced spending and responsible behavior. Take control of your finances by practicing the following healthy credit habits:

Habit 1:

Create and stick to a budget. Start by outlining all of your monthly expenses. Looking at your budget will help you map how much you can spend and how you can manage your credit card and other expenses.

Habit 2:

Borrow only what you can afford to pay back. Show future lenders they can depend on you by borrowing only as much money as you can afford to pay back.

Habit 3:

Pay your bills on time. It is important to pay your bills on time every month. A history of late payments can be damaging. If you can schedule automatic payments on your bills, take advantage of it.

Habit 4:

Carry credit card balances responsibly. If you have a credit card, it is important to be responsible when it comes to carrying a balance. Some key tips:

• Make your payments on time.

• If you can, pay off your balance in full each month.

• Pay off your outstanding balance as quickly as possible.

Habit 5:

Check your credit report and monitor your credit score. Check your credit report regularly to help you catch and correct potentially costly errors such as…

• Accounts you don’t recognize

• Loans that have been paid off but still show up as “open”

• Incorrect personal information (such as your address or employer)

Checking your credit report is also one of the best ways to spot potential fraud and identity theft. Everyone is entitled to a free copy of their credit report from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – once every 12 months.

Your free reports can be requested by phone, mail or by visiting the government-sponsored website: www.

While your credit report will give you all the details of your credit history, it will not include your credit score, which you may request (and pay for) separately. CreditWise® from Capital One® lets you see your credit score for free and is available to everyone – whether they have a Capital One product or not.

Visit: credit-cards/benefits/creditwise/.

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