Layoffs. High unemployment rates. Everywhere you turn, money – or lack of it – is in the news. What are some steps you can take to maximize what you have and plan for the future? In these times of financial uncertainty, a credit card can be a safeguard in case of a financial emergency. But having access to credit depends in large part on your FICO credit score. Those ads with the singing pirate-waiters have a point – it’s important that your score is good. So what can you do to keep your credit healthy? Most experts agree on a few tips: • Pay off debt – don’t just move it around. The lower your debt, the better. • Don’t close accounts as a strategy to improve your score – unless you are unable to resist using all available credit, in which case you shouldn’t have credit cards at all. • Don’t open a lot of new accounts quickly – that has a negative effect on your score. • Check your credit regularly and make sure it’s accurate. If there are mistakes, address them immediately with the credit bureau.