Love is……asking the tough questions

By Naoimh Reilly

Would you risk it all for love? Would you risk your potential to get credit, loans or a mortgage for love? Would you risk a life of hardship for it? Might seem harsh, but these are the questions everyone should ask before becoming seriously involved.

Think back to the last time you met someone new. You probably asked them where they were from, what did they do for a living and what other interests they had. You might even have asked about family. But it’s a safe bet that you didn’t ask them their credit rating. No? Maybe you should have…

OK, so no-one wants to frighten someone off by talking about money too soon but it’s something that must be discussed before things get too serious. One person can drag another down because of their poor credit history. One partner’s years of hard work could go to waste, while dreams are left unfulfilled.

Love is getting from first date to death without succumbing to resentment and one major cause of that, is financial strain. It may not be romantic but it is prudent. Nobody wants to discuss prickly topics like credit rating but, if ignored at the start, regret and resentment will set in eventually.

It may not be something you bring up on the first date but it is something to discuss in detail when future plans are being made. Talking about money is not the most comfortable thing in the world, but it can be done. Most people don’t even consider what their partner’s credit score might be in the beginning but it plays a very important role in the overall health of the relationship.

Credit score is important because it is what lenders use to assess what risk there is in lending you money. Banks, credit card companies and institutions use this number to determine the likelihood that you will pay, or be able to pay off, your debts on time.

The score indicates your historical financial behaviour, your current financial circumstances and your willingness to pay off loans you may get. The score ranges between 300 and 850, with the higher the score, the better the rating.

Anyone who has a credit score under 630 is considered to have poor credit. Average score rates between 630 and 690. If you have good credit, your score will be between 690 and 720 and anything above 720 is an excellent credit rating. Not only does your score determine if you get approved for a financial product but it can also relates to the interest rate you pay.

Studies have shown that people with higher credit scores are more likely to commit to a relationship. They also generally stay committed. A credit score reflects a person’s life skills and personality and this can be a very important indicator as to whether they will make a good partner in life. High credit scorers are more reliable, meet obligations and have a sense of responsibility - all very good qualities to have in a significant other. Credit scores can also show up someone’s hidden past, for example, someone with a gambling problem.

Credit scores are also an indicator of a couple’s compatibility. The closer your credit score is to your partner’s, the better chance you have to stay together. If both partners have a similar attitude to money, there is less tension in the relationship.

However, if one person’s credit rating is vastly different to their partner, then trouble is afoot. When a couple applies for a mortgage, or car loan, trouble can start when one person drags the average score down. A low credit score is a sign you are struggling with your finances and financial stress is never great for a harmonious household. Different spending habits lead to an increased chance of separation. You simply can’t have a healthy relationship if you don’t communicate about finances. It affects every part of your life.

However, there are ways to improve your credit score. Get into the habit of paying your bills on time. Get a credit card to make small purchases and pay them off in full and on time. If your credit is too poor to get a credit card, apply for a secured one, which normally means paying a deposit.

Your credit score is part of your brand and it denotes trustworthiness. It’s part of who you are as a person and is something that can affect huge aspects of your life. Financial health can also be a signal to someone’s broader wellbeing. If your finances are a mess, then something in your life may be awry.

There is a common misconception that you inherit your partner’s credit history. This is not the case. But, one partner’s credit can impact other parts of your life if you apply for joint finance, including what mortgage rate you get.

Regardless, it is still possible to keep your finances separate. Although not ideal, many modern couples do this as they simply want to maintain their own independence. This is a direct result of people getting married later and already having established financial habits and incomes.

So, all is not lost if you and your partner’s credit score is different. It is not the be-all and end-all to pool your finances in a joint account. But even if you decide to keep your finances completely separate, it’s still paramount to know what your sweetheart’s spending habits are. Are you brave enough to ask?