Five Financial Freebies
Free Credit Score
Your credit score -- the numerical summary of how much you owe and how promptly you pay your bills -- is a three-digit number (from 300 to 850) that is looked at by everyone from lenders to landlords, employers to cell phone companies. In other words, it's important. And while there are several unethical sites that promise you this score - for free - only to gouge you after the fact, stick with the tried and true: quizzle.com or CreditKarma.com.Free Credit Report
The Federal Trade Commission provides consumers with one free credit report a year from each of the major reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Consumers can access their free report - a summary of your financial reliability (essentially, your history of paying debts and other bills) - by going to annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized source under Federal law.
Free Portfolio Checkup
Do you have the right mix of investments? Too heavily weighted in one area and too light in another? It's important to get the right mix in order to weather the stock market's many moods. Find out by using Morningstar.com's Instant X-Ray. All you have to do is enter the ticker symbols (mutual finds, stocks, and ETFs) of your investments and you'll instantly have a sense of your asset allocation.
Free Business Advice
One-in-four laid off workerswho have not yet found a job are considering starting a business, according to a CareerBuilder survey. Wondering where to start? Whether you have a viable idea? Need help with a business plan? Run your questions by the volunteers at Score.org, a non-profit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses succeed. You can chat with one of their experts online or drop into any of Score's 350 offices for a face-to-face consultation. For free. Another good resource - especially for free local workshops - is the government-run Small Business Administration.
Free Credit Card Perks
I've written about this one before, but it bears repeating because so many consumers aren't aware of any good news buried in the fine print of their credit card agreements. Specifically, I'm talking about freebies like car rental insurance, extended warranty coverage, trip cancellation coverage, concierge services, and even price protection (If you use your card to purchase something only to find out after that same item at a lower price elsewhere, your issuer may refund the difference). Not sure what you have? Call your issuers and speak with a benefits manager.