published Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Phillips: Getting a handle on your credit score


by Ellen Phillips

One of my dearest friends, who has obviously forgotten all advice over the years, asked me recently about buying her credit report. (She must not have read my column's advice, either.)

To reiterate and with additional make-your-$$-work-for-you info, thanks to Redbook magazine September 2010, I give you financial items for which you shouldn't ever pay:

* Be smart with the aforementioned credit-score monitoring. The law permits you three freebies each year, one for each of the Big 3 reporting agencies. Some folks ask for one every four months, rather than all three at once. However, as I've suggested in the past and as I do, get all three at once (particularly as they don't always match), and six months later, pay the $15.95 for one or $39 for all three at www.myfico.com.

* Forget cable's movie premium upgrade channels. Why should you pay up to $100 to see the same movies you can get monthly for $9.99 at Netflix or, even better, the buck a movie with frequent rent-one-get-one-free option at "Redbox" or its red cousin, "DVD Express." After all, while the American home on average receives 130 channels, its inhabitants only watch about 18, Nielsen says.

* Personal property insurance isn't necessarily a good investment. If you can replace items, such as a $600 bracelet or an expensive cell phone, then the cost of the insurance doesn't cut it. On the other hand, most people can't replace an $8,000 diamond engagement ring, so personal property insurance may be necessary.

* Personal loans for college are sometimes a bad idea. While most families need to borrow for their college-bound teens, federal loan interest rates usually are much lower. Additionally, private loans offer much less generous repayment terms than do the federal. Check out www.finaid.org or www.studentaid.ed.org.

(I'll continue next week with some ways to "check for and check out" your debt.)

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. E-mail her at consumerwatch@timesfreepress.com.

about Ellen Phillips...

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business.

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