THE BLOG

5 Credit Mistakes That Brides Can Make

07/16/2013 09:32 am ET

What bride-to-be hasn't thought about a summer wedding? No matter when your wedding is, here are a few credit-related mistakes to avoid as you get married.

Mistake #1: Assume that marital status matters to your credit. According to a recent poll by VantageScore, 38 percent of women incorrectly believe that credit scores are impacted by marital status. That means: More than one-third of the beautiful brides walking down the aisle this month believe that saying "I do" will somehow influence their or their new husband's credit score. It won't. Everyone has their own credit score.

Mistake #2: Going into debt for your wedding day. You want the greatest, most memorable day. There's nothing wrong with that! Unfortunately, many brides (and some grooms) believe that it will be the most important day of your life and therefore needs to cost an amount that reflects its importance. Weddings are wonderful and memorable but they shouldn't set you back financially as a new couple.

Mistake #3: Thinking that you can change your spouse's credit habits. Finances are a huge area where spouses face conflict and one of the reasons is that each spouse may have a different idea about money, budgeting, debt, and credit than the other. Don't assume that you'll bring your spouse around to your way of thinking. Marriage is about compromise. Talk to your spouse and if they have unhealthy credit habits then make sure the conversation is about how today's credit decisions impact long-term goals.

Mistake #4: Assigning financial responsibility to just one spouse. At first this won't seem like a credit tip but it is. In many marriages, one spouse is "in charge" of the finances. And as a result, the other spouse often remains oblivious to the household cash flow and balance sheet. This risks the misuse of credit now. And there's another problem: In the future, if the marriage should ever break down, one spouse will be dangerously in the dark about the financial situation.

Mistake #5: Co-signing a loan. I said earlier that everyone has their own credit scores and your credit score is not impacted by your marital status. This is true. However, spouses often co-sign loans together (which makes sense, since you are often buying things together) and this can have an impact on each partner's credit scores. When possible, avoid co-signing loans. There will be times when this is unavoidable (such as when you are applying for a mortgage) but the less you co-sign, the better.

When you're walking down the aisle and looking radiant, you are celebrating a wonderful new start with your spouse. And as amazing and memorable as that day should be, it's just one day out of many. It's a carefree day but it will "kick off" many days of deeper financial consideration (and sometimes stress). On your wedding day, don't worry about credit. But every other day before and after your wedding, keep these tips in mind!