The Money Savvy Mommy: Is a Low Credit Score a Deal Breaker?

by Mira Reverente

Credit scores are "hot" in the dating arena these days.

Credit scores are “hot” in the dating arena these days.

I usually don’t write about dating–online, post-divorce or otherwise. I just don’t consider myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination.

However, the recent experiences of friends in the dating arena has made me reconsider my choice of topic for this week, as it relates to money and credit. Apparently, even though they’re just snapshots of a person’s credit report, credit scores–those magical three digits ranging from 301 to 850–are the “hot new dating criteria.”

Credit scores are so hot these days that a dating web site now has over 35,000 members, according to 2015 figures. While not everyone on the site has sexy credit scores in the mid-700s to the 800s (considered good to excellent by most finance experts), one member was quoted as saying “people are looking for someone they can relate to, with similar financial goals and backgrounds, not perfect credit scores.”

“Why shouldn’t we ask about credit scores and reports?” my friend Therese asked. “Landlords, mortgage companies, banks and insurance companies ask for your credit score. Why can’t I ask a future spouse the same question?”

I think Therese has made a good point. Financially independent with a significant retirement account, home and car fully-paid for, she won’t risk putting her financial future in the hands of a beloved.

Another friend, Patty, was fretting about a similar issue. Barely a few months into a new relationship, she said, “After a divorce and substance abuse issues, I think his credit is shot. I don’t even think we can get a mortgage together.”

Like Therese, Patty is gainfully employed. Though not a homeowner yet, Patty is looking into buying a home soon but is unsure if she should do it solo or attempt to get approved for a mortgage together.

Whether it’s a credit score or an entire credit report, transparency is the key factor here, as discussed in a previous blog, No one likes surprises, especially from the person you are intending to spend the rest of your life with.

Here are some reasons why you should discuss credit scores and histories as soon as possible:

  • You have a baseline. You know how much he/she has in debt and can come up with a plan together. It doesn’t mean you should take on the other person’s debts but you can lend some support!
  • It gives you a look into the future. While past behavior doesn’t always predict future behavior, you at least know what to watch out for.
  • Your beloved’s low or bad credit score can affect your chances of getting approved for a loan.

Moving forward, make it a habit to do financial check-ups or money talks with your loved one. Request your free credit reports from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. Keep an eye out for mistakes and fix them, no matter how seemingly trivial, as soon as possible.

Mira Reverente is associate editor of CVH and a longtime journalist whose work has appeared in many local publications. Her first book on money came out last fall. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for more money savviness tips or check out her new blog.  

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