Some facts for you guys:
1) Checking your own credit score does not hurt your credit at all. You can do so a million times if you want. Best case, go to myfico.com and buy all three reports. This is the official site. Then check your credit carefully, any thing that looks fishy you can have it reviewed. Your creditors have 30 days to prove that any deliquent information is accurate. If they can't, or just take too long to prove it, it just falls off your credit report. Sometimes this is all you need to do to improve your score.
2) If you are going to be hunting for a loan, complete your search within 30 days. Yes, every time a lender checks your credit score, your score decreases somewhat. However if those checks are done in a concentrated time period, the reduction in credit score is minimal (since the computer algorithm adjusts for the fact that you are loan hunting and thus say 5 credit checks might only have the effect of 1 credit check on your score if it's done within a concentrated time period. But here's the clincher: The effect of the credit checks by lenders does not decrease your credit for 30 days, hence you are not penalized just due to the fact that you are searching for a loan.