Now say you’ve been with this special someone for a while now. Say the honeymoon period is over and things are starting to get a bit serious. When you used to talk about dropping everything and traveling the world together, now those hopes and dreams have taken on more than a touch of reality: buying a car, owning a home, starting a family. And you know it won’t be long before that special question arises: “What is your credit score?”
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Financial health has always been a consideration in relationships. But in recent years, credit has increasingly emerged as the catchall financial question that couples ask when they are starting to think about how serious they want to be. Consider it a good thing. Your significant other is planning a future with you. But things like debt or a low credit score could alter that plan a little. Opening up about the topic will help the two of you develop a more realistic plan.
If you find yourself in such a position, don’t get caught off guard. Here are a few simple things you can do to make sure you have a good answer ready when that special someone pops the credit question:
1. Order your credit reports and FICO® Scores, just so you know where you stand. FICO Scores are what 90% of top lenders look at when you apply for credit. The higher your scores, the lower your interest rate will generally be. Check out how your FICO Scores affects your interest rates.
2. Pay off your credit card debt! Or at the very least, pay it down below 50% so it will have less of an impact on your FICO Score. Also keep this in mind: If you get married, your new spouse will also be marrying your debt (how sweet). And vice versa. If you co-apply for a loan, both sets of debt will be considered. Make sure your combined financial picture is healthy by paying off your debt as quickly as possible. Read more about co-applying.
3. Communicate. Financial arguments are a notorious conflict in otherwise happy partnerships. Once you start talking about your credit, keep that conversation open. Communicate your financial goals, philosophies, budgets and anything else that might help you both find an understanding. You’ll probably end up closer than ever after opening up the conversation. You might even find your significant other can provide just the support you need to reach your financial goals.
Financial conversations with your significant other don’t have to be stressful. Change the way you look at your financial standing. It’s dynamic, it’s changeable and it’s a part of you. If you have negative items in your credit history, work on it together. Educate yourself about personal finances and credit, use the myFICO calculators to come up with a plan and help each other get there. When you reach your financial goals, you’ll be happy to share them with someone you love.
Jeanne Kelly is an author, a speaker, and a widely sought-after credit coach. Learn more about her services at JeanneKelly.net.