Showing posts with label money. Show all posts
Showing posts with label money. Show all posts

Make Your Credit Score Increase With One Small Change



Some things stay the same forever, until we do something to change things. Like my weight. It was the same for about ten years, until I finally went on a diet and lost 23 lbs this summer. It required changing my foods, practicing portion control and drinking more water daily for about 100 days. I've maintained my weight loss and decided to try to lose a few more pounds so I have a weight loss cushion for the upcoming holiday food binges that are certain to happen.

The other thing that pretty much has been the same forever is our credit score. It's a good score, and there's no need to improve it. Except when you are really close to perfect, its tempting to strive for it. A perfect credit score is 850. I'm not sure if its even attainable for anybody. I know there are a bunch of factors how its determined exactly. I just know it pops up on Mint every time you login, and its on other banking apps so we get reminded fairly often what it is. But there is no need for that because it hasn't changed for us. But low and behold, for the first time in as far back as I remember our credit score increased from 828 to 834 this week. Granted we haven't really done anything to try to improve our score since we didn't have plans to buy anything that would require good credit. So, it was quite the surprise when I checked our net worth on Mint and a new credit score popped up. We haven't done anything to make it change except maybe one small thing I did in the last month. We don't have any loans, mortgages or credit card debt so that didn't affect it.

The only thing I did different was pay off the credit cards on a weekly basis whenever I noticed a new balance on Mint. Usually, I let all the charges accrue and then just pay when I think they might be due. We pay all our cards off online so I never really know when they are due. I know that's not a good practice to not have due date awareness, so I don't recommend it. But, this past month I've been just paying them off pretty much immediately because we had some travel where were offline for a week. So I paid them before, and then paid them after, and then again a week later.

Now for the disclaimer, I'm not sure paying off cards weekly was what triggered the score to increase, but is the only variance in our finances. My theory is that although we still spend thousands monthly through credit cards and utilize our credit, the amount of time any balance is outstanding has greatly decreased by paying off balances immediately. 

It couldn't hurt to try if you too are trying to increase your credit score.




2016 How Much Were Our Household Expenses?


It might not look like much, but that 10 foot vinyl fence gate cost about a thousand dollars. It was one of the few remaining costs to prepare our forever home for retirement. It will last longer than we will, barring a hurricane. The fence was the big project this year. If you remember we put on a metal roof in 2015. So the only thing left to buy big is a new vehicle before we retire. Actually, our 2004 Camry would probably last the rest of our life, but we feel like we deserve to have a new vehicle to travel around the country. It will be our last vehicle and we expect it to last over 20 years.

Some of you may wonder why or how we bother to track our expenses. Actually, it is critical for anyone who is frugal and wishes to spend less than they earn. And if you are retired, you don't earn much from pensions and social security and your investments, so awareness is essential. As an Analyst by trade, I know you can't improve what you don't measure. If you can't even bother yourself to measure where you're at; you have little hope to improve. This philosophy applies to finances, health, exercise and diet.

If you monitor your expenses, there is immense peace and lack of anxiety about money if you have a good idea what goes in and out of your household moneywise. We use two different applications - both are free. Mint to monitor our spending and calculate our year end expenses. Personal Capital has some really nice retirement calculators and you can add in different income streams and expenses for certain amounts of time to really get a good idea of your readiness for retirement. Both can be accessed from your computer on their websites, or thru apps on your tablet or smartphone.

2016 was an expensive year, very expensive with the fence and shed purchase over $11,000. I'm not adding this to the budget because the projects were paid with our savings account. Even so we spent a lot on miscellaneous stuff. Way to much was spent on clothing. And our stockpiles are getting depleted so more was spent on household supplies and groceries. And of course we spend way too much on beer, it is over half of our grocery spending. We eat out two times a week on Friday and Saturday at our favorite little pub (The Firehouse) where we enjoy the best Buffalo chicken wings and a pitcher of Bud - this expense is from our allowance. We each pay for one night, its $21 including tip for 20 wings and a pitcher. Quite the bargain, its hard to go out anywhere else. Anyway, it turns out we spent more this year than last, about $45,000 for our household.
We do not have any debt, so we don't have any car payments (our cars are 13 and 19 years old), our house was paid off six years ago and now our home is completely ready for retirement as we have remodeled all rooms, fence, roof and appliances. Our dog died this year too so that expense has disappeared. Our health expenses were higher this year due to dental costs, we each had a crown replaced and we had some cleanings. Our health insurance remains inexpensive as we pay $30/month for a PPO plan through the State of Florida, our employer. The home expenses don't include the cost of the fence and the shed, but they do include the costs of removing some trees along the fence line, paint to remodel the doghouse into a nice sun porch, and AC service, a new dishwasher, plumbing maintenance and carpet cleaning.

The biggest category that needs to come under control is the Cash and ATM category in miscellaneous spending. We like to use cash to stay off the grid, but it doesn't show up in any of my apps (like mint, or personal capital). We also spend quite a bit on haircuts for DH, but I'm afraid he is too vain to let me cut his hair every 3 weeks (@$19 a pop). He is going bald so maybe in a few years this expense will diminish. We did cut back on our auto insurance coverage level, going from 300/100 to 100/50 since we drive so little (opting to walk, ride MC or ride bicycles to work).

We are already very frugal and generally do not employ home services, instead electing to take care of our own lawn, pool, house cleaning, tree maintenance, obtaining and splitting of firewood, home maintenance jobs such as plumbing, electric, carpentry and painting. With the excellent videos available on Youtube, one can really do almost any task with some basic training. I figure if a person who doesn't even have a college degree or HS degree can do a job, I certainly should be able to figure it out. The one exception is when special equipment is needed that is too expensive to rent. We did hire a tree guy to remove a 40 ft tall tree that was too dangerous for us to do ourselves.

Anyway, our expenses every year have been trending higher, but just barely, I'm going to attribute this to higher prices of goods and services. But we must remain vigilant these last few years before we retire to keep our spending in check, I would actually like to keep it below 40K per year.

2013 we spent 32K
2014 we spent 34K
2015 we spent 43K
2016 we spent 45K

Our plan for this next year 2017 is to start adding cash payments into mint.com as a manual payment. I also want to be better at always assigning and splitting ATM transactions so they are all accounted for before we forget and move on. I'm going to try to not buy any clothes or shoes this year, because I have plenty to last for years. We have a decent deal on cable/internet at $124/month but that contract will end in March of 2018 and it will be time to shop. DH will not give up his live sports channels, so until live streaming is "easy" on the big TV, its an expense we'll have to keep.

Well, that's about it for 2016, another year on the books.
 
 
 

When The Market Crashes



These days the stock market is really tankin' and its kind of depressing, the only consolation I have is that its happening to the whole world. So what to do? I could be like this giraffe at Busch Gardens and just munch away on some grass like I don't have a care in the world. That actually is probably sound advice, don't panic. But actually if you have a little bit of cash that needs investing, this is the time. But stick to the solid dividend stocks that don't really change a whole lot, except to mostly just increase in value and keep paying out dividends. I've had a couple energy stocks this past quarter that totally dived with the gas prices and not surprisingly; they ceased paying dividends. Now they aren't worth much, plus they quit paying the dividend that made it worth it in the first place. Needless to say, I don't check www.mint.com everyday these days.

2013 Financial Review of Expenses

It's always interesting to figure where your money goes. Even if you track receipts and sync up all your investments with Mint.com, its still a little blurry and murky to pin point the exact amount of money you take in and put out. Really our finances are one big game of offense and defense, with the goal being to gain in the end. That means if your offense is weak (you don't take in a lot of money), you have to be really good at defense by minimizing spending and getting the most of the money you do spend. If you have strong offense and make a lot of money, its really tempting to spend a lot and then you really aren't any better off than the household that has a weak offense.

In my opinion my DH and I don't have much offense, since we are state employees and of course the State of Florida has not been generous with wages - ever. We get paid in sunshine. So, we have a strong defense and minimize what we spend in most areas, but we get what we want in other areas. We are fortunate to have already paid our dues working in corporate America and made decent wages years ago, where we paid off all our debts - student loans, mortgage, vehicles and credit cards. I'm going to say that even though we are frugal, we are not scrooges. There are certain luxuries, pleasures and conveniences that we "want" and are willing to pay the price for. With that being said, even though there are some discretionary expenses in our budget we try to get them as inexpensive as possible. There are many things we do in our life that are absolutely free - like gather firewood from curbsides when a tree is chopped down, split it with our hydraulic splitter and enjoy backyard fires in the chiminea every weekend.


Our household expenses for 2013 were $32,177. Here is a breakdown:

  • Travel (7,037) - this was our largest categorical spending. In the past few years we've had to remodel our home, so we traveled less. This was 21% of our budget and I see this staying the same whether its for a big household project (next year is a new roof) I would like to have about 20% discretionary budget to either travel or make a big purchase.
  • Allowance (6,000) - we each get $250/month to do as we want that doesn't come out of household budget. DH buys cigarettes and goes racing. I buy electronics and victoria secret. This is also where beer kegs come out of budget. Allowance also includes dining out at our favorite pub for wings and beer on Fridays and Saturdays. This is one area we could try to cut back since most of my allowance just goes into my allowance account and is more than I need.
  • Maintenance (car/mc/home 2,876) - this is kind of large this year because we had our 15 yr old Ford Explorer painted at Maaco, and we also had brakes replaced on both cars, plus motorcycle maintenance is a rip off. Motorcycles are not frugal when you consider the maintenance and insurance costs.
  • Home Insurance (1,960) - a necessary evil, but luckily we're not in a flood zone and we're lucky State Farm still finds us worthy of insuring in Florida.
  • Life Insurance (1,860) - these whole life insurance policies are not really necessary now in our life, but we keep them because cash value is worth more than we've paid in premiums. Actually, we have pretty risky lifestyles with our daily commuting by bicycle and motorcycle, and if one of us die, it means a loss of future pension and social security income for the household. So maybe we do need these policies.
  • Electricity (1,702) - we spend way to much on electricity but with our pool pump, hot tub, chest freezer, 2 refrigerators, kegerator and electronics its to be expected. We try to unplug when we can, empty the hot tub in the summer and I'm trying to get us back to just one refrigerator if we can get rid of all our food.
  • Internet/Cable TV (1,539) - This is an expense we should work on lowering. DH will not give up live sports broadcasts, and I like good fast internet and wifi. But we should threaten Verizon FIOS and try to get them to lower our rates or something - maybe they want to sponsor me?
  • Cell phones (1,409) - this category was expensive because I upgraded to a new Samsung S4 and my plan increased to $56/month. I passed on my old Samsung Epic to DH and his plan through Ting is only $20/month. So next year we'll spend $500 less in this category.
  • Car Insurance (1,212) - our 10 yr old car and 15 yr old truck should be a lot less expensive to insure, but this is Tampa where over 40% of drivers are uninsured. The majority of our policy expense is uninsured motorist coverage which we have at 100/300. Next year we plan to lower this to 50/100 since we don't drive much. It should save us a few hundred dollars.
  • Groceries/HH Supplies (1,248) - We purchased $21,529 worth of product using cash and gift cards this year. This involved 355 trips to stores. I save every receipt and log in the spending and saving, which I have done for years. We saved 88%, which averaged out to $104 per month spent. This is significantly less than we have bought in years past because couponing is getting harder to do with stricter usage policies, increased competition for goods and smaller value coupons. I expect to continue to coupon to save, but plan to continue to budget $100 per month for groceries and HH supplies.
  • Motorcycle Insurance (1,088) - again we have maximum coverage since the probability of needing it are good since riding is risky and most drivers will hit and run if they can, its best to have your own insurance because many drivers do not, and more than likely an accident will be the fault of the other party. 
  • Property Tax (1,088) - we are protected by the save our homes legislation that prevents tax increases in homes that people have lived in for many years.
  • Shopping misc (1,064) - This includes gifts, electronics accessories, clothing, and other weird stuff that doesn't fit in any other category. There is probably some room to cut expenses here. 
  • Water/garbage (725) - provided by the city so we don't have a choice in vendors. We do have an irrigation line so all outdoor water usage is charged at a tenth of the city water cost. We use less than 3000/gal water per month which is the threshold for the surcharge.
  • Newspapers/coupons (441) - this is large because I bought Winn Dixie $5 off $30 coupons, and I also get 8 Sunday papers for coupons. I might cut the newspapers back to 4 per week since I use a lot of printables now.
  • Health Insurance (450) - includes visit co pays and rx. Just trying to stay healthy to keep this cost low.
  • Pet (435) - includes dog food, meds and vet visits. The 13 yr old dog has been healthy this year except she has gone deaf. We also have a vet surgery scheduled to remove a cyst on her eyelid that will cost a bunch in early 2014.
  • Gasoline (291) - this includes cash we have used to buy gas cards at Publix, and the occasional time we have purchased gas while traveling by car.

So that's it for 2013. We want to spend less next year than this year, a simple goal. If we could keep our expenses under 30K that would be good. Looking forward to a prosperous 2014 with hopes of increasing our networth so that retirement is a little bit closer to reality.

Wishing you a healthy, prosperous and stress free life.

Happy New Year to You! 

The Price You Pay For Your Life

 
Today I sat in eight hours of boring meetings, except for the twenty minutes when I gave my presentation of course. Except not really, mine was really boring too. It was all data and numbers that are purely speculative and not very meaningful to the manager's in the audience. They also were bad numbers about how thousands and thousands of cases are stuck in a status where they will not move without our clients cooperation. And that won't happen.
 
So, In addition to listening to the state of the world at work which was depressing and boring, some of the people (actually a lot of the people) spent over an hour in traffic commuting to our office for this big meeting. Some of the people actually work out of my office and drive over an hour, one lady drives 90 minutes! Just to get to our boring job! But, she's a manager and probably has hopes of climbing up the career ladder and attaining one of the few higher choice positions that will open up in a few years as people retire with their nice thirty years of service and a comfortable pension. But to do this she will have to drive fifteen hours a week(1.5 hr x10) times fifty weeks for a total of 750 hours/year (an equivalent of 18.75 work weeks). This is in addition to her work week of 40 hours, so effectively her work week is 55 hours.
 
To me this is absolutely ridiculous. There is no way in hell, I would drive more than thirty minutes to work anywhere. I've never done it and I never will. Don't people calculate the cost of the their time and cost of travel when they interview for a job? Maybe not. Maybe those pristine little ponds in their backyards are worth the drive, I don't know. But I do know that some jobs aren't worth the money. The golden handcuffs are not always shiny and bright. There is often a price that people sometimes pay, but forget to calculate into their costs - of their job. Its either the commute, or the stress, or the hours and the fact that you won't really just work the forty hours you're paid for its often more in corporate America. And all the office politics that come into play. It's exhausting. Then the crazy commute home with all those stressed out people texting and driving like they're drunk. It's madness that I want no part of.
 
Anyway, I enjoy my bike ride to work. It always the highlight of my day.

How We Spent Our Money in 2012


One of my favorite websites, Mint.com makes evaluating your expenses much simpler at the end of the year. They actually have a pretty good app for smartphones too which I check everyday to make sure no one stole my identity, or money. One of my other favorite websites, Mr Money Mustache has posted his yearly spending so I feel compelled to also drop our drawers and lay it all out there.
 
I thought it would be interesting to see where all our money went last year and what opportunities there are for improvement this coming year. You might not really care what we spend, but you're probably nosy and will continue to read and see how you compare to us, a couple of cheap asses who recycle plastic baggies (not really). I think this may be a useful exercise to see where our money goes and to try to manage it so that when we retire we'll be able to fully enjoy ourselves on a limited budget. We learned a long time ago how fun it is to not have a car payment. And we learned a few years ago how fun it is to not have a house payment. And we learned last year how fun it is to not have to pay for food, gas or household products. So, just there we have three categories of expenses that have just went poooffff! up the air, gone to heaven and hopefully, never be seen again.
 
As you recall, we did a pretty extensive remodel of our home including all three bedrooms, dining room, living room and office. This ended up being our largest expense of the year and its worth every dime. Now our home is totally renovated and modern, and we're on our way to a clean, uncluttered existence as we sort through the outcast stuff we still have in our "green" room or the stockpile room.
 
Anyway, listed here are our largest expense categories of the year.
 
1. Home (Insurance, taxes, remodel, furnishings, appliances) $13,291
This was by far our biggest expense even though we have no mortgage or loans. The taxes $1000 and insurance $2500 are pretty much out of our control so that is a fixed expense. The remodel and new furnishings were a one time expense we  don't anticipate this again, although there are other projects on the horizon in years to come such as a new roof, fenced yard and we expect a new A/C unit will be needed someday since ours is over fifteen years old. However, we paid for everything and expect next years home expenses to be less than a third of what they were. There are opportunities to repair rather than replace, and preserve what we have so it lasts longer. My goal for 2013 is to spend less than $5000 for the year on this category.
 
2. Utilities (mobile phones, internet, TV, electric, water, garbage) $6,056
We are generally frugal in our use of utilities such as water, electricity and try to recycle to minimize garbage. I've unplugged one dorm size refrigerator and hope to empty our small freezer so we can unplug that as well. That leaves two full size refrigerators and a kegerator sucking down electricity at a high rate. In the warm weather, I unplug and drain the hot tub since we use the pool. Likewise in the cool weather I run the pool filter pump less hours per day since we don't swim in it for half the year (although the dog does - every day!) I was hoping to decrease our TV/Internet expense when our contract was up, but that didn't turn out and I feel fortunate to pay the same rate for another two years. Maybe by then DH can be weaned off cable and we can subsist on online streaming of sports events and TV programs. I'm looking to cutting our cell phone costs in half this year as I combine my smartphone with DH's account at only $40 a line unlimited everything. We are both eligible to upgrade our phones, but the frugal thing is to just keep them both as is. So there is definitely opportunity to cut expenses in this category, so my goal this year is to spend less than $5000 in this category as well.
 
3. Allowances $6000
DH and I each get an allowance monthly to pay for stuff that is not a household expense.This category would also include going out to restaurants which we only do a couple times a year - except for the Firehouse where we go regularly for wings and beer. These optional expenses like beer, cigarettes, going out to eat, massages, extravagent unnecessary expenses (Ipad, extra computers, music) are paid for with cash from our allowance. We both save a significant portion of our allowance being the frugal spenders we are. DH used to spend a good portion of his allowance on driving a race car and I purchased computers and photography equipment. If we decide to do something extravagent that the house "can't afford" we both chip in from our allowance. This category will stay the same next year.
 
4. Auto & Motorcycle (insurance, maintenance, gasoline) $4,126
Our two old cars and two newer motorcycles are very expensive to insure in this state of Florida where almost half the drivers do not carry insurance, and I'm sure a good portion of them are driving on suspended licenses as well. It is dangerous and therefore we have probably excessive insurance compared to most people. But after DH was struck by an uninsured driver in 2010 and we received a nice settlement from our own insurance, we feel safer on the roads having sufficient insurance. But this is one area we can still cut back on insurance with the red truck since it sits in the driveway the majority of its life, and its the biggest boxiest safest vehicle we have. Of our auto expenses, over half is insurance $2470, $1657 was maintenance on all four vehicles. I've made a note to mention $1722 for gasoline even though this was paid for with gift cards we got at Publix from overage, and yard sale proceeds. So the opportunity here is to cut insurance a little and to ride my bike more this year, so this year we can spend less than $4000 in this category.
 
5. Travel $3,384
This category has suffered since we have been remodeling. Now that our home is updated, we plan to resume frequent travel. We already have booked a nice seven day cruise to the Virgin Islands this spring, and plan to book another for Fall 2013, in addition to our annual trip up North to visit our families. We have let all our season tickets to NASCAR races go unrenewed and we may attend these types of events at most once a year. I actually desire to travel to places I haven't been to before, or places I traveled to as a child. I would love to visit San Francisco, Hawaii, Yellowstone National Park, Colorado and Canada. We're actually in a holding pattern for extended long trips as long as we have our old dog. When she passes in a few years, we'll be able to take longer trips overseas without having to worry about finding a caretaker for her. So this year, I would expect this category to at least double, if not approach $10,000.
 
6. Shopping $2,793
Amazon is the death of me. It is way to easy to shop online and it shows up here in this category. We have way to many clothes and shoes and could easily go years without purchasing anything to wear. I see this category as an opportunity to cut in half to about $1400.
 
7. Health (Rx, copays, insurance) $1,722
This category just increased this year because of our Governor, for the first time in ten years we were required to pay health insurance premiums. I hope to just maintain the cost of this category in the future, not much hope of decreasing it until I hit menopause or quit having sex, and can quit going to the doctor for those little pills.
 
8. Entertainment (Busch Gardens, Concerts) $1,656
This category is actually not very much of our budget and I hope to be able to maintain that amount this year. We do go to a lot of free festivals and inexpensive concerts to keep this cost down. Actually, since we used to work concert events we have seen almost every performer we care to see and the cost is often not worth it if we've seen it. We did splurge and buy good tickets for an upcoming Lady Gaga concert this spring.
 
9. Pet $695
The love, companionship and protection we receive in exchange for vet bills and medications is worth the cost for our dog. Dog food and treats are paid for with overage at Publix so this is actually less than most pay for a pet. If we keep this expense under $1000, that would be good. In the future this expense will go away when the dog dies.
 
10. Personal Care $249
This category is probably low since DH pays for his haircuts with cash and takes out the money when he gets his allowance. So it really should be double, closed to $500 for hair cuts and perms. It helps being low maintenance people - no manicures, hair color, no pedicures or expensive massages. All that individual stuff comes out of allowance anyway, it is not considered a household expense.
 
The missing category -  Food & Beer
This category is one where we have eliminated the expense by using coupons and shopping the sales. We buy stuff we don't need, to use the overage to get what we need. We actually made $803 last year, spending $2951 in cash and gift cards to purchase $32,729 worth of products (including $3755 in gift cards and gas cards). The cash used in shops was proceeds from yard sales selling our stockpile from couponing. We also use the cash to pay for our beer kegs, and extra spending money when we travel.
 
So, in summary our goal for the upcoming year is to cut our spending by 10% overall.
 
How did you do?

 

How To Keep Track of Your Money

I've been a user of mint.com for years now to keep track of my money. I linked all my credit cards, banks, investments online accounts so it could pull the latest data live whenever I wanted to know what my money situation was. The problem with mint is they don't have a way to manually enter an account. There are some accounts like my 457b state retirement fund that they don't link up with, so I can't see how that account is growing. They also don't link up with stuff like annuities, or real value house values through zillow.com. So, I could kinda guess what my net worth was, but not really.
 
But, yesterday I learned of another site called www.adaptu.com which is the same sort of financial budget management site. It is simple and secure to use and it links up with all my accounts successfully (which mint constantly doesn't). I was able to enter the 457b accounts in manually to be considered in my networth, but I'll have to update the values every quarter since its not live linked. It also links your home value live to current market values on zillow. I love it! Now, I know exactly what my net worth is.
 
Disclosure: I am not being compensated in any way to say any of this, it is my personal recommendation only.
 

You're Wasting Your Money

If you go to the grocery store with out a list, you're wasting your money. This is what I discovered in the last month, after a very frugal year. We had several holiday parties to attend and some holiday meals to bring food to. If we were able to plan for the event we used our overage. We made a list and were able to get a spiral sliced ham with overage. On another trip we were able to get a cocktail shrimp ring with our overage.
 
But earlier in the month, when we were on vacation at the condo it was a total bust. We spent $48 (I know shocker!) on a bag of food and some beer. I almost died spending that much and with only a few coupons. It was while I was away from a printer or my coupon stash at home, and the moneymaker deals were scarce. It was so discouraging and depressing. I didn't even want to use up my gift cards to pay that much. I'm used to getting three or four shops on a $10 gift card, so to use over 4 on a trip was unheard of.
 
One thing that has proven to be my best tip of the year, is to remember that if buying something makes money, you have to get it - even if you have no use for it. I buy lots of phazyme, vitamins, CWS and donate or sell at garage sales. You also need to plan to get free things (alka seltzer, theraflu) just to bring up your total so you can use a $5 off $25 coupon, and use the $5 savings for the things you need and want, that aren't on sale.
 
But the most important thing is to have a plan for your shop.

The Best Way To Manage Your Money

Mint
 
One of the most helpful tools I've found to track my spending is MINT.  Mint is a free online service that allows you to link up your credit cards, banks, investments and input assets to determine your net worth. It is read only and in the last year I've used it, I've never had any issues.
 
I love that I can log into ONE account to see an update of my expenditures and I can categorize and analyze them. For example, yesterday I realized that we're on track to spend $1643 this year on beer (we have a kegerator). That's more than we'll spend on groceries, which is on track to be about $1100 for the year. I also can see how much I make from rebates and secret shops by categorizing the payment checks.
 
So if you don't already use a budget tracker, I would highly recommend MINT.COM. You can sign up by clicking the banner or the link. Its free too.

Quizzle

Another great tool I use to monitor my finances. Every 6 months you can check in, and get your FREE credit score (not just your report) on Quizzle.com 
Your home, money and credit go hand in hand in life, here you can manage it all. At Quizzle, you'll get access to helpful tools and information that will help you make smart decisions about your life, including:
  • Free Credit Report
  • Free Credit Score
  • Credit Improvement Tool
  • Home Value Estimate
  • Home Loan Recommendations
  • Personal Budget
  • Advice on How to Improve
Knowing your home value and the prices of homes recently sold in your neighborhood will come in handy when you want to sell your home, refinance your home loan or make home improvements. Staying on top of your money situation will allow you to cover life's expenses and save for your future. Understanding what's on your credit report and what your credit score is will put you in a position to qualify for the best mortgage rates, get that dream job or snag the lowest rate and payment on your new car.
It is a secure site where you can enter your debt and income, and it will calculate your grade, A B or C in financial health. It's handy to see how your credit score changes based on how you spend or save your money. Mine actually went down to 797 (the range is 350 to 850) from 819 in the last quarter. I think its because we have less debt and have been spending less. Credit scores are really strange in how they are determined, and healthy financial choices don't always help your credit score.
 
So give Quizzle.com a try for the new year.