Ask Yourself: Is Their Credit Score a Match?

Could compatible credit scores be a good predictor of your success as a couple? The answer is yes -- and here's why!

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By Christy Bieber, The Motley Fool

So you've swiped right and think you've found the love of your life. While your courtship may be all champagne and roses, have you stopped to ask your paramour about their credit score?

It may not seem very romantic to have a conversation about your credit, but you need to, because if your credit scores don't match, you may not be compatible in the long run.

Why would a credit score matter so much when it comes to your chances of long-term relationship success? Because your credit score paints a pretty good picture of how you live your financial life.

And that's not even getting into the fact that you'd probably need to apply jointly for big purchases -- like a house -- if you decide to take your relationship to the next level. When you merge your lives, you don't want to miss out on your dream bungalow because your partner has a credit score in the low 500s.

So, how is your credit score a barometer for all your money habits, and why does that matter in a relationship? Here are three reasons your credit score will show whether you are -- or aren't -- financially compatible.

1. Your credit score is a window into your financial worldview

Are you a Dave Ramsey disciple who hates debt? If so, you'll probably have a low credit score because you don't borrow to build credit. This means you may not be a very good match for someone whose score is high because they have several open loan accounts.

On the other hand, if you're a financial free spirit with a few late payments because you were off walking the Camino and couldn't be bothered to send in the bill, chances are good you won't mesh with someone who's made it a mission to get a perfect 850 score and who monitors their financial progress on a spreadsheet updated daily.

When you compare credit scores, you'll each get a good idea of how comfortable you are with borrowing, what you've borrowed for, and whether you're serious about fulfilling all of your financial responsibilities. Shared views on these key financial issues matter if you hope to build a life together.

2. Your credit score shows whether you bite off more than you can chew

Some of the most important factors that determine your credit score are your payment history, how much of your credit you've used, and whether you've applied for new credit often.

If your beloved has a bunch of maxed-out cards and doesn't always pay on time, this is an indicator he or she may not manage money very well. Someone who constantly lives beyond his or her means may not have the discipline to work with you to accomplish joint financial goals -- or other life goals you may share.

This doesn't mean you should dump your perfect match because of a 30-day delinquency. But if a credit report and score reflect bankruptcies, judgements, maxed-out cards, or payments that are rarely on time, you need to ask why.

If there's a good excuse, like an illness, a job loss, or just a typical period of being young and broke, you may decide to overlook past transgressions. But if your partner simply has too little willpower to control spending impulses, you should be worried about what that will mean for your future.

3. Your credit score reflects your choices

Having a mix of different kinds of credit can help to boost your credit score -- and the kinds of credit you have also reflects the life you want to lead.

Have a bunch of student loans and zero credit card debt? That probably means education and career advancement mean more to you than material possessions. If your partner has never picked up a book but loves to go on shopping sprees financed by plastic, then that may not bode well for your compatibility. Or, if your score is higher because you have a car loan and a mortgage, while your beloved has a low score because they prefer biking everywhere and living off the grid, you may have some long-term disagreements that are hard to overcome.

When you compare credit scores and check out what you've each borrowed for, this opens the door to talking about what you value enough to pay interest on. If you don't have a mortgage on your reports, think about whether buying a home some day is on both of your to-do lists. If you see your partner takes out a new loan every two years for the latest fancy sports car while you drive a 22-year-old Toyota, you'll need to think about whether it would bother you to pay for a Porsche if you reach the point of sharing joint accounts.  

Credit scores are determined by financial choices -- so learn about the choices your partner has made

While it would be nice to live in a world where your credit score is just a number, the reality is that money-related fights are a leading cause of divorce. By sharing your credit score and reports early on, you can find out what type of financial life your partner is leading and see if you're on the same path. If you're not, it's time to have some serious conversations about how you'll handle money if you move forward as a couple.


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Finance Magazine: Ask Yourself: Is Their Credit Score a Match?
Ask Yourself: Is Their Credit Score a Match?
Could compatible credit scores be a good predictor of your success as a couple? The answer is yes -- and here's why!
Finance Magazine
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