Kip Tips


How Do Your Finances Stack Up?

Cameron Huddleston

A new service from Credit Sesame lets you see how your credit and debt compares with that of your peers.



If you've ever wondered if you're doing a better job managing credit and debt than others, there's an easy and free way to find out now. Financial Web site Credit Sesame launched a new service today that lets you see how your credit score and debt level compares with that of your peers and offers advice on how to improve your financial situation.

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Since it was founded in 2010, the site has been providing consumers with a free credit score from Experian, analyzing their credit profile and offering recommendations on how to save on on their credit cards, mortgage and other loans. In addition to the new peer comparison service, Credit Sesame now offers a financial fitness indicator that shows how well consumers are handling their credit and debt and an "Am I Overpaying?" assessment.

Signing up is quick and easy. You have to provide your name, address and Social Security number, which Credit Sesame founder and CEO Adrian Nazari says is needed to access your credit score and financial information. Then you must answer three questions to verify your identity.

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On the overview page, you'll see your debt (monthly payments, balances and debt-to-income ratio), your credit score and usage, your assets and whether you're overpaying on your debt based on alternative mortgage, credit card and loan options that might be available to you. Note that some of the options it recommends might not actually be available to you. For example, it said that I could get a better rate on my mortgage by refinancing with a Fannie Mae HARP II mortgage for underwater homeowners, which I am not.

To get more information about how others in your area and age group are handling credit and debt, hold your mouse over the peers icons on the overview page. And you can get more detailed information about your creditworthiness, debt and assets by clicking on the "my finances" tab at the top of the page.

The site also allows you to set goals and receive e-mail alerts when it finds loans with better terms that can help you save money. Credit Sesame makes money when members apply for a recommended loan and qualify for it, Nazari says. It does not sell members' personal information to marketers, so you won't see your e-mail inbox filling up with spam as a result of signing up at Credit Sesame to monitor your finances.

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