1

get a copy of your credit report.

there are many services online which provide free copies of your report, use them and get a free hard copy.

2

check for errors.

if there are ANY errors what so ever, no matter how minor submit a statement to the effect.

3

inquire as to grace periods, and reporting periods of your creditors.

while paying yoru bills on time is important, each creditor has a diffrent definition of 'on time' in that some will not report you until you have been late over 30 days and some will not report you at all late payments. In hard times you should have all of this information to properly base your monthly payments on.