We’ve all had financial ups and downs. Sometimes financial challenges can cause our credit score to drop. The good news is your credit score today is just a snapshot of your financial picture. Here’s how to rebuild your credit and get your credit score back on track in 2022.

Know where you stand. One of the most important things you can do to rebuild your credit is to monitor the changes to your score over time. It’s important that you know if the steps you are taking are helping – or if you’re continuing to do things that cause your score to drop.

“Maintaining a healthy credit score can save you money and time and help you build wealth,” says Tracie Anderson, Principal, Economic Inclusion Strategy for TransUnion.  “Through routinely monitoring your credit score you remain informed and empowered to take actions to nurture your score and overall financial health.  Strong financial health can lead to the creation of generational wealth through homeownership,” Anderson adds.

TransUnion and HomeFree-USA have teamed up to give members of HomeFree-USA’s community exclusive free access to a  TransUnion CreditView Dashboard  — which lets you track your score, see how your credit changes from month to month and learn how to build and protect your credit.

Assess what went wrong. Take an honest look at why your credit took a hit. Was it an unforeseen circumstance such as a medical crisis or job loss? Or were your financial habits, such as overspending, to blame? If your habits caused the problem, figure out what changes you need to take to avoid making the same mistake again.

Create – or revise — your budget. If you don’t have a budget, now’s the time to create one. Determine how much you need for your monthly expenses, and create a plan that allows you to pay your bills and save for emergencies, retirement and financial goals such as a house. If you already have a budget, take another look at it and see if you can identify ways to save even more money or pay down more debt.

Be careful with credit cards. While credit cards are useful financial tools, it can be easy to fall into debt if we use them to purchase items we can’t afford. Strive to pay off any credit card charges at the end of the month. If you can’t, at least make the minimum payment and do so on time. Also, strive to use no more than 30 percent of your available credit. That means if you have a $10,000 credit limit, try to keep the balance down below $3,000.

Make on-time payments. Late payments are a no-no if you’re working to rebuild your credit. If you are forgetful about paying bills, set up automatic bill payment so you don’t have to worry about it.

Celebrate the small wins. As you track your progress with the free CreditView Dashboard, you’ll see gradual changes to your credit score over time. Reward yourself when your credit score rises – just don’t spend a lot of money to do so! Treat yourself to an afternoon in the park, a day of binging on Netflix or your favorite cupcake from the bakery. As you build better financial habits, your world – and your financial picture – will change.