At the time a late payment or a missed payment may not seem like such a big deal, especially if you are choosing between eating and paying your credit card bills. However, you may run into trouble down the road when you want to take out a home loan or buy a new car. Your choices surrounding you credit will have a long lasting effect, and you need to work hard to keep your credit score on track.
If you have fallen behind on payments, you need to catch up as quickly as possible. You also need to find a way to clear up anything that you owe from a long time ago. If you owe money to a utility company or to a doctor's office, you can set up a payment plan and clear that up. Most creditors will take into account your most recent behavior, especially if they see you are making an effort to rectify past mistakes. If you plan on taking out a loan in the next year, now is the time to start cleaning up your credit.