Consumer questions: Cleaning up your credit

Hidden costs for pet owners?

Question: "What are the hidden, unexpected costs for owning a pet?"

Answer: Owning a pet is very expensive. A small dog will cost you on average $700 a year, a large dog $1,500. A hamster will cost you $300 for the first year of ownership. That includes spay and neutering, a dog house or crate, but after that for a small dog your are still looking at $500 in medical care, feeding, toys, etc. Find out which dogs are more susceptible to certain health issues so you can budget accordingly or avoid buying a particular breed.

Cleaning up your credit?

Question: "I'm in the process of purchasing a home and I'd like to get my credit cleaned up without having to pay someone. So can you give me some tips on how to do that?"

Answer: Don't ever pay anyone to do this because you can do it yourself. The first thing you should do is visit and get your three free credit reports. You get one a year from the three major companies. On the reports, look for information that is wrong and then challenge that information (you can do so a through the Web site). They then have 30 days to prove you did it or take it off your account. Second, obtain your credit score from for $14.95. It will teach you what is you need to do to get that score up so you can get a better rate when seeking out loans.

Broken gadgets

Question: "What do I do when gadgets break?

Answer: Often, the best solution is to throw it away. The majority of them are made to be thrown away. If you have a more expensive item, like perhaps an appliance, there is a place in San Francisco called Appliance, Sales & Service and if you have an appliance that's 50 years old, they have the parts to fix it.

For more of Michael Finney's consumer stories and advice, visit 7 On Your Side.

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