Love is love. Ever since I was a wily teenager, I’ve had the romantic notion of being with a woman I care about no matter what her financial circumstance. My father used to subtly encourage me to meet some of his friend’s daughters who so happen to come from wealthier backgrounds. They were never my type unfortunately. Only until I reached college did I realize he was trying to play match maker to ensure my financial well-being.
I remember bringing one girl home to “hang out” at the age of 13. When my parents found out she was raised by a single father, I could sense my parent’s lack of enthusiasm. Or maybe they just didn’t like what we were up while they were still at work! My parents didn’t say anything mean, they just weren’t supportive of my latest fling. They encouraged me to stop messing around and start studying instead.
I also recall talking to my parents at the age of 14 about dating a real life princess. Her name was Tengku Zarina and I was smitten. Zarina was of Malaysian royalty and my parents were fascinated by the potential. Unfortunately, my pursuance failed since she was two years my senior. Girls hate younger boys, which is why single men love growing old. If you’ve wondered why men tend to only date younger women, now you know it’s all the woman’s fault!
CREDIT SCORES, FINANCIAL STATUS AND MARRIAGE
In an earlier debate on Financial Samurai between “perfect grades vs. a perfect credit score,” the perfect credit score wins out. With a perfect credit score, you can make your own t-shirt with a sparkly unicorn on the front that says, “I’m perfect, just like my 850 credit score!” Any physical deficiencies you may have would be more than made up by your glowing financially responsibility.
Perfect grades just gets your foot in the door for a job interview. Whoopdeedoo. A lot of employers find perfect grades to be a red flag due to the perceived notion that maybe you are actually Mr. Robato in disguise with no social skills and loads of neurotic tendencies. Can you believe there is a stigma against straight “A” students? Gee whiz. We can’t win.
Before I tell you whether marrying someone’s with bad credit will affect your credit score, I’m wondering whether you would marry someone with poor credit?
I’ve never ever asked for my date’s credit score. It’s never even crossed my mind until credit score dating site commercials began popping up. Perhaps I’m being naive, but I always assume I’m going out with financially outstanding women! Because I believe everything is rational, I assume most people have excellent credit scores (above 720), or are trying to at least improve their credit scores in order to qualify for an apartment, a mortgage, or any other type of loan.
Obviously it would be nice if my date had stellar credit. However, even if she only had a 600 credit score, I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation. As we’ve learned how one late payment can kill your credit score, it takes about three years to get back to excellent status. If you go through a foreclosure or short-sale, expect that road to credit score recovery to last seven years. Age has a lot to do with achieving a high credit score, which is why those with 800+ scores are almost always over 35 years old.
Another reason why it’s never crossed my mind to ask my date’s credit score is because I’ve always imagined having to take care of the entire family if needed. Of course I would love to have a financially potent partner. I just don’t expect it. When society pounds it into young boy’s minds that we must be the breadwinners, it’s hard not to feel the pressure of being somebody before marriage.
Of Vital Importance
On the flip side, my friend Nancy says she would never date someone with less than a 760 credit score. Her argument is that with so many eligible bachelors, why bother taking a risk on someone who isn’t a rockstar at handling their finances? Everyone knows countless examples of men hitting way above average thanks to their wealth. The situation is much rarer the other way around. Nancy is attractive and can have her pick of suitors.
Nancy would rather cut to the chase early rather than invest so much time into a relationship only to discover her man is a financial deadbeat. “I want him to be upfront and honest about his financial situation by the third date,” Nancy tells me. That’s fair enough given the third date is when expectations rise for magic boom boom.
Nancy has fantastic 780 credit and isn’t wiling to “date down” as she put it. “I’m not getting any younger!” At 36 years old, I wonder if Nancy is being a little too picky.
WILL MARRYING SOMEONE WITH BAD CREDIT RUIN MY CREDIT?
Now that we’ve got the philosophical discussion out of the way, I’m pleased to say that marrying someone with bad credit won’t affect your credit score one bit! You are not responsible for your future spouse’s bad credit or debt, unless you choose to take it on by getting a loan together to pay off the debt.
The problem arises if you plan to go in on a purchase that requires debt together. The most common example is when it comes to buying a house with a mortgage. If your spouse has horrible credit and you need your spouses income to get your debt to equity ratio below a certain level, chances are you will not qualify. As we learned from a previous post, the average credit score for a rejected mortgage applicant is 729. You can do a simple averaging of your credit scores to see where you stand. Realistically, the bank will likely charge you a higher interest rate or deny your application altogether if both your credit scores are not above 700.
The other potential problem is when you want to buy a car. Taking out a loan to buy a car you can’t afford is piss poor financial decision. But, if you absolutely need the latest BMW which costs as much as your annual paycheck, you will probably want to get your spouse’s income power on a loan you can’t afford. Given the reputation of car dealers to try and sell you anything, they’ll probably approve your car loan at a much higher rate than average (sub 5%) and laugh at you once you drive away. Stick to the 1/10th rule for car buying folks!
Finally, one must be careful not to let your spouse’s poor financial habits could rub off on you. It’s very easy to get swayed by someone you love. People go to the ends of the Earth for their soul mates. Make sure you don’t catch the reckless spending virus.
LOVE IS BLIND UNTIL YOU HAVE TO BUY SOMETHING TOGETHER
Whether you are poor and have poor credit matters little to me. So long as you are not stealing people’s identifies and doing shady things to warrant a poor credit credit, all is good for love. We can always improve our credit scores and financial situations over time. Can we always find the one that gets away?
* Refinance Your Expensive Debt: With a good or improving credit score, you should highly consider refinancing your expensive student loan, mortgage, or credit card debt with Credible. Credible is a top lending marketplace that provides real quotes, all in one place. It is the efficient way to get the best deal out there.
* Get A Free Checkup On Your Finances: Sign up for Personal Capital, the web’s #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your finances before and after marriage. You can use Personal Capital to help monitor illegal use of your credit cards and other accounts with their tracking software. In addition to better money oversight, run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying.
After you link your accounts, use their Retirement Planning Calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. I’ve been using Personal Capital since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.
Updated 2020 and beyond.