So, What's Your Score?
If you're of the belief that there is only one soul mate for every person, you might want to add an important characteristic to your list of requirements. As you may have already guessed, a person's credit should be compatible with your credit. While it may seem silly, this can make or break a relationship. It can also break the bank in the worst circumstances. While there may not be institutionalized uses of credit for finding a mate, plenty of anecdotal evidence shows that some folks want a mate who has good credit.
Lending, Insurance, and Love
Having a general idea of your lover's financial situation just makes sense from a financial-planning perspective. You need to know where you are, where you're going, and how to get there. Open communication is the only way to accomplish that. You'll need to know sooner or later, so you should have conversations about money before you get married. You don't necessarily need to look at your sweetheart's credit history, but you should know enough to guess what it looks like.
As you get to know someone, observe how he uses a credit card. Does he use it for every purchase, even $1? This could mean that he is living beyond his means. Does he live in a house, or drive a car that is way too nice for his income? That might suggest some unrealized yearnings that will bring trouble in years to come.
If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Credit says something about your behavior. It says different things, depending on whom you ask. For an insurance company, information in your credit files says whether or not you will be an expensive client for them. For a lender, the information is useful in predicting whether or not you will pay your debts as you agreed to in a contract. For potential lovers, credit can also say a lot. To some, your good credit might mean that you're boring, predictable, and generally not much fun. To others, your bad credit might mean that you're irresponsible, hard to get along with, and dishonest.
Just like you can tell a lot about a person by the way she treats a waiter in a restaurant, you can also tell a lot about a person by the way she handles credit.
If you think this is a little bit over the top, you might be right. However, it is important to know about the factors that affect somebody's credit before you get too serious. Money issues can cause major problems in a serious relationship. In February 2006, Fair Isaac Corporation's consumer site, myFico.com, released a study that showed just how important financial responsibility is.
The survey was clearly a ploy to generate awareness about credit scores from myFico.com just around the time that singles were suffering from Valentine's Day solitude. However, the numbers really do not lie. People value a mate who is responsible with their credit. Take, for example, answers to questions about various personal traits. When asked to select traits that were more important than the others in sustaining a relationship with a spouse or significant other, the answers came out as follows:
53 percent — Being faithful to each other
52 percent — Being honest
22 percent — Being financially responsible
18 percent — Having a sense of humor
10 percent — Sexual compatibility
13 percent — All of these
This is shocking, right? Even some “old reliable” answers — having a sense of humor and all of the above — came in under financial responsibility. There are a number of other fascinating findings, but one last example should suffice. The study asked respondents what would be the most important advice they could give if they were counseling a friend on a potential mate. It turns out that it's more important to know if the potential mate has a good credit history than it is to know if she wants to have children or is on good terms with family members.
How's Your Credit?
Given the gravity of good credit, it might be tempting to ask any potential mate for a copy of their credit reports and a FICO Score. You would not be the first person who has suggested this. Some financial advisors tell their clients to compare credit histories before tying the knot. However, you'd better be careful. While it's important to know