Increasingly, couples are having the "what's your credit score?" conversation as their romance grows. It's the new version of "how much do you earn?" If this sounds crazy to you, let me explain why it's happening:
• While money isn't everything, we all know that relationships can fall apart because of disagreements or stresses about money, and relationships are strengthened when money stress is reduced.
• Modern couples want to be equal partners in a relationship, sharing the burdens and the rewards that come with being together. When credit scores are dramatically mismatched, this puts a larger amount of responsibility on the person with the higher credit score (whose score will be used to get a mortgage or a car loan once the couple starts to make purchases together).
• Additionally, credit scores are based on how someone has historically handled credit. So although they won't be a perfect indicator of whether or not your new partner will be a good partner, a credit score can hint at their ability to manage responsibility and commitment, and whether they have habits (like impulsive spending) that can hinder the relationship.
• And since some employers are pulling credit reports on their employees, it's important for both parties in a relationship to be aware of the risks that one partner has in remaining employed.
People are becoming more aware of the value and importance of a credit score, not just on an individual's finances but on the potential of the relationship.
Some people might think that credit score conversations kill the romance but I think it makes the romance stronger by reducing the stresses that are often associated with "financial unknowns." Credit score disparity doesn't have to kill a relationship but it better equips a couple to understand what they will face together.
If you are in a relationship that is getting serious, maybe it's time to think about having a conversation with your partner about what each of your credit scores are.
If you aren't in a relationship yet, consider the implications that this new trend has on you. Perhaps you already stay fit as a way to appear physically attractive to a potential romantic partner... maybe it's time to also appear financially attractive as well.
Start by pulling your credit reports today and going through them carefully. Identify errors and fix them. Get your debt under control. Adopt credit habits to help raise your credit score.
Things haven't changed that much. People have always been interested in whether their potential romantic partners will be a good match -- physically, socially, financially, etc. But only now are we becoming aware of the potential that credit scores have in identifying that compatibility. Make sure you have optimized your credit score!
Follow Jeanne Kelly on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Creditscoop