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Clean up your credit report

Just as you regularly tidy and reorganize your closets and garage, you should make sure to clean up your credit report. Your credit history is the foundation to financial stability. The information in your credit report is what scoring companies such as FICO use to generate your credit score, which governs everything from how much you pay for a loan -- or if you can get a loan at all -- to your insurance rates.

Good news: You can get your credit report for free at myBankrate.

Paying attention to your credit report only when you're about to make a big purchase such as a house or a car can backfire. A study released by the Federal Trade Commission in 2013 found that 1 in 4 consumers had errors on their credit report that could affect their credit score.

If there is any issue that takes some time to sort out, that can create a headache if you're racing the clock to secure a loan. Get a head start by going over your credit report now, and check up on it periodically so you can catch and fix any issues right away.

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