Since I started tackling my student loan debt full force, I have learned a lot about other things in relation to personal finance - one thing being credit score. I never paid attention to mine much, since I have always been a little leery of credit cards, but recently this has changed. I learned having a good credit score means you'll get a better interest rate when it comes time to purchase a home, which in turn means you'll pay much less over time (we all know how evil interest is). I started paying attention to my credit report more (creditkarma.com), asking questions about the marks and inquiries I didn't understand and trying to figure out ways to dispute them or get them removed. I wrote a few goodwill letters in an attempt to remove some old late payments, paid a medical bill from last year that was sent to collections after it slipped by me, and applied for a new rewards credit card in an attempt to build credit.
What started in the low 600's under the "poor" category has just today reached 700 and is now considered "good" credit. Applying, getting approved, and using my new credit card has certainly helped the most, but being persistent and attentive was also a high playing factor.
Ask questions, take the time to look at the dates. If you have good-standing with the companies who filed the delinquencies except for that one late payment 5 years ago, give them a call or write them a letter. You'd be surprised how easy it is to get your credit report in order if you're polite and own up to your mistakes. The worst they can say is no, which is better than not trying at all.
My goal for the year 2015 is reach a "perfect" credit score so I will have one item knocked off the "purchasing a home" checklist come time I'm ready!