It’s nearly the end of summer. The kids will be returning to school shortly. You’ll probably be returning to work (or to a slightly different schedule at work once everyone finishes off their vacation time). You’ll say goodbye to the beachwear and the flip-flops and the sunscreen.

In these last couple of weeks, it can be tempting to put everything else aside and try to get the most out of summer, delaying all of life’s responsibility until September. Perhaps this includes ignoring your diet and workout routine or your car maintenance schedule or even your credit.

While some of these things can be put off in the short term, your credit is not one of them. It is so much easier to maintain healthy credit it than it is to rebuild unhealthy credit. So instead of ignoring those bills or that outstanding debt in favor of one last day sipping lemonade in the backyard, take a few minutes to deal with them.

The Not-So-Lazy Days of Summer

Here are four tips to help you finish summer well, without ruining those last few days of sun and fun:

Don’t tackle all of your credit-related papers in one sitting. After all, it is the summertime and I’m realistic enough to know that you won’t. Instead, spend five minutes every day handling them.  This will maximize your daily fun time but keep one toe dipped in the pool of responsibility so you don’t ignore your credit. You should pull a copy of your credit report for free from one of the three major bureaus. You can also check your credit score for free using the Credit Report Card.

As you get your paperwork, prioritize it. Some of it doesn’t have to be dealt with until the kids are back in school. But some of it should be a priority now – specifically, the bills that need to be paid on time in order to avoid hurting your credit.

Stick to your budget. This is so hard to do at this time of year (you’re tired and sunburnt and you want to have that extra ice cream cone!) but it’s so important to make sure that you have enough money in your account to keep your bills paid in full and on time. An extra ice cream cone is OK but now is not the time to slack on paying bills.

Stay vigilant with your credit. Identity thieves are busier than ever, stealing information and using your good credit for their nefarious purposes. And when you’re at the beach or the pool or on the deck, your defenses are down and your wallet, purse or cellphone might be left out where they can find it.

The summer is short and, with only a couple of weeks left, it seems even shorter! So you want to squeeze in as much fun and relaxation as you can until the kids have to be forced back onto the school bus for another year. Even though you are in full summertime mode, don’t let your guard down for a moment: Continue working to maintain your credit.

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