Keeping track of your finances
With times being as rough as they are one of the most important things to keep abreast of is your financial stability and where you stand. In this country, and I’m not sure if this applies in others, you can be broke with a great credit score and have the world, where as someone rich with a poor one can not…unless they pay everything cash. That means a lot – that little score or letter grade can determine a lot about what interest rate credit cards will give you, mortgages, auto loans, etc. A slight increase in a mortgage's interest can mean a whole lotta cash in the long term.
I have been utilizing three (free) websites that help me keep track of my finances. The first one is creditkarma.com (which I love)…you have to input a bunch of info (including your full social) but you can check your credit score (which is an estimate) as much as you want, without it negatively affecting your credit report. It gives you recommendations as to how to improve your score, or what factors may be affecting it. I check it about once a month, especially when I know I’ve paid off a bunch of stuff. Give it a shot, I totally recommend it.
The other website is knowbeforeyouapply.com. Now this site is a tad bit different in the sense that you do not have to put your whole social, which may leave some room for error…, they use your email address and last four digits, plus your address to give you a letter grade of how your credit standing is. It automatically populates credit offers that you would (most likely) be approved for, and if you recommend 3 friends to use the site you’ll get monthly updates on your score.
My favorite website (because of its cute user interface) is quizzle.com. Quizzle.com allows you to access your credit report (courtesy of Experian), gives you a credit score and also a letter grade (along w/ a percentage of how you compare to everyone else). It allows you to enter your monthly income (income, deductions, tax, etc.), your living expenses, and whatever debt you may have. It takes some time to update everything but it’s worth it. It provides you with very valuable information and grades you on how you are ‘financially living’ in comparison to others (of course). The best part, that most websites don’t do is that Quizzle.com drives its users to save…it has a cute lil’ icon on the upper right hand corner for ‘A rainy day fund’ and it tells you how much you should have saved, according to your income, to be considered super safe on a rainy day. This one is the most comprehensive out of the three and probably the most enjoyable to use.
Remember to check your credit reports yearly and to validate all the information on it. Some websites are annualcreditreport.com (most official) and freecreditreport.com (this one makes you sign up for something, and unless you cancel it within 14 days you get charged).
The internet has made our lives easier, but also has facilitated the increase in credit and identity frauds…don’t be a victim.