According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, a record 32 million adult Americans live with their parents or grandparents. In addition to the pandemic, other factors – such as housing costs and high student debt – have contributed to this trend for years.

Moving back in with your parents may seem like a regression, but there are many things you can do now to get your finances in order. One priority that will pay off when you move out is improving your credit.

Here are four credit moves to make when you move back in with your parents.

1. Keep Paying Your Bills on Time

While moving back in with your parents might reduce the number of bills in your name, you still have to make sure you pay all of your bills on time. The payment history is a key component of your credit rating, and a single late payment can hurt it. Keep paying your bills on time, and don’t forget to pay your old apartment’s electric bill – make sure all your accounts are paid.

2. Get a Credit Card

Getting a starter credit card can help you establish credit history if you do not already have one. Paying your bill on time and keeping your balance low demonstrate responsible debt management.

But when you have poor credit or a limited credit history, qualifying for a credit card can be difficult. Consider these starter options if you don’t have strong credit:

  • Student credit card: College students can open student credit cards in order to establish credit. The credit requirements for student credit cards are usually less stringent and the credit limits are generally lower. Maintaining a good grade-point average can earn you rewards such as cash back and statement credits.
  • Secured credit card: To open these cards, a security deposit is required, which determines the credit limit. A $500 deposit can get you a card with a $500 credit limit, for example. Other than that, secured credit cards can be used to make purchases and build credit just like a traditional credit card.
  • Becoming an authorized user: By adding you as an authorized user to their credit card, your parents will let you use their credit. Check with the card provider to see if they report card activity for authorized users. You run the risk of having your credit negatively affected if your parent misses a payment, maxes out the card or otherwise behaves irresponsibly.

3. Pay Down Debt

Debt isn’t always bad for your credit; in fact, it’s necessary for establishing a credit history. On the other hand, paying off your debts on time will allow you to establish a strong payment history. Furthermore, paying off debt can free up money to focus on other financial priorities, like moving out. In addition, high credit card balances can damage your credit score by increasing your credit utilization.

4. Monitor Your Credit

Credit doesn’t take a break when you live with your parents. You should be aware of how your behavior affects your credit and watch for signs of identity theft. Monitoring for credit changes and identity theft can help you by sending you alerts when there is unusual activity in your credit.

Is your personal information on the dark web? Make sure your identity isn’t at risk!