Consumer questions: Cleaning up your credit

September 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Michael Finney answers your consumer questions on cleaning up your credit, what to do when gadgets break, and the hidden costs pet owners face.

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.