Friday, December 30, 2011 Where can I see my credit report for free?

A credit report or credit history is the record of an individual's creditworthiness. When you apply for a loan or a credit card, financial institutions use information on your credit report to determine if they should make you a loan and at what interest rate. Worse the credit report, higher the chances of loan denial or a higher interest rate.

In the United States, three major credit bureaus that supply this credit report are Equifax, Experian and Transunion. When you apply for a credit card or a loan, the respective financial institution forwards your information to one or all of these credit bureaus in order to determine your creditworthiness.

A lot of people confuse credit reports for credit scores. Both are completely different, though related, and both provided by the above mentioned 3 credit bureaus. More information related to obtaining your free credit score in my upcoming post.

Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act(FACTA) was passed in 2003, which required all 3 major credit bureaus to make the respective credit reports available to individuals once every 12 months. Before that, an individual had no access to this information - ?!? I cant have my own credit report? This access was important in order to ascertain what was being reported on the credit reports, was in fact, accurate and to avoid identity theft.

Enter It requires users to enter basic information like name, age and social security number. It then drives you to each individual credit agency's website, where you answer few multiple choice questions to verify your identity and then voila - you have your credit report.

Since each bureau offers one report every 12 months, you can choose to get one every 4 months or all at once. Its upto you. I prefer getting one every 4 months just to keep myself up-to-date round the year.

What does a credit report show?

  • Account information
    • Various accounts (open and closed) - bank, credit card, loan, mortgage etc.
    • Length of each account and average account age
    • Detailed Payment history for each account - whether the payment was made on time or late for each month since the account was open
  • Potentially negative information - negative accounts, collections, public records
  • Inquiries on your credit report - hard and soft. Hard inquiries are visible to a creditor and remains on your account for 2 years. Soft inquiries are only visible to you and do not affect your credit report.
  • Personal information - name, SSN, date of birth, residence history
  • Employment history
  • Summary of your rights under Fair Credit Reporting act
  • Information about remedying the effects of identity theft

So what are you waiting for? Get your FREE credit report now.

Image: David Castillo Dominici /

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jamba Juice: $5 for $10

Update: This deal has expired.

If you are like me and love Jamba Juice, you will love this deal - $5 for $10 worth of smoothies, wraps, baked goods, wraps etc.

Here is the link - received via Google Offers.

Here are the participating locations.

Fine print says - Limit 1 per person. Limit 1 per transaction. Not valid toward purchase of gift cards. Not valid at airports, Safeway, Vons or Pavilions locations, or in Hawaii. Not valid at international locations.

I personally love their fresh squeezed orange juice. And if I can get 2-3 for the price of one, I love it even more. Only ~10 more hours to go - go get it!. The deal has expired.

If you bought this deal through this post, please be nice and leave a comment.

Image: Ambro/

Monday, December 26, 2011

Kiva: A way to help those who help themselves

With holiday season going on and those still debating about their charitable giving to the less fortunate, here is an idea - Kiva partners with various microfinance institutions around the world to alleviate financial problems for poor entrepreneurs by making them microloans. You can lend as little as $25 at 0% to create opportunity around the world and make a difference. A dollar can go a long way in some of the less fortunate parts of the world.
Here is a video that tells the story of Pedro, the farmer:
How Kiva Works from Kiva on Vimeo.
Some statistics from their About page
  • Kiva was founded in 2005
  • $268 million made in loans so far
  • 98.96% Repayment rate
  • They work with 61 different countries

Personal experience - I have made about 30 loans since the beginning of this year. A picture is worth a 1000 words, isnt it? Budgeting, planning and all-in-one financial picture

I use to plan and track my financial accounts, set goals and budgets and get a one-stop view of my financial life.

  • Free: Its free! Who doesnt like free? So now you will ask me what the catch is, since there is no such thing as free lunch, right? Right. The catch is that they make money off of ads. You will see loan offers, offers to reduce your mortgage rate, credit card offers etc. when you are logged into your account. I have never received email spam from them though, which is great. I actually sometimes welcome these offers to see what companies are willing to offer me based on my net worth.

  • One big picture: Mint lets you track all your accounts (bank, brokerage, investment, retirement) all in one place. You are able to view all activities and the current state of the account from one place.
  • Budgeting: Mint starts with an automatic budget based on your past activity and lets you customize it. It warns you if you exceed your budget for a particular category in any given month. Keeps my Starbucks visits in check ;).
  • Goal setting: Mint lets you set goals and define what accounts contribute towards your goals. It tells you if you are on track, behind or ahead so far.
  • Due date warning: Mint shows you a due date warning for your accounts few days in advance, so you dont miss a payment. Better than setting alerts in your individual accounts, if at all possible, that is.
Do you use What is your favorite feature? Leave a comment.