The past 10 weeks while staying at home, many of us have used the time to not just try new recipes and embrace Marie Kondo’s tips for purging and de-cluttering, but also to review our expenses, cut costs wherever possible and talk to creditors while looking into refinance options now that rates are so low. Of course, how well you can manage to clean up your financial picture is entirely dependent on your ability to (1) maintain a decent income and (2) protect your credit.

Tip #1: Check your credit score, and correct any inaccurate information in those credit reports.  If you have bad credit (generally below 670), you will not be eligible for some of the more favorable terms with lenders, and this impacts your ability to get insurance, rent or buy a home, purchase a car, or obtain deals with creditors. More importantly, it can affect your ability to find employment in certain industries, particularly those that require a security clearance, and inevitably it will also impact your personal relationship with family members or a significant other that have to suffer the consequences of your poor financial choices.

Tip #2: Get educated.  Many people lack the proper education to understand how to maintain a balanced budget and set aside an emergency fund. Families often don’t discuss money, and schools rarely delve into importance of financial literacy. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a catastrophic event like a divorce or a pandemic for families to realize they are living well beyond their means, and it forces people to reassess their priorities and get help where most needed.

Money cannot buy happiness, but financial stability is key to enjoying a successful life, which is why various employers that want to invest in a stable workforce are jumping on the opportunity to invite guest speakers to present seminars promoting financial awareness. Sonya Smith-Valentine is the founder of Financially Fierce in Maryland, and she is a well-respected speaker on this subject. Here are some tips that she shared this week for those looking to protect their credit, particularly during COVID-19: