There are a lot of personal things you might want to know about someone you date — relationship history, medical/psychological issues, allergies, political leanings, job prospects, any legal concerns just to name a few — but rarely do we look at a potential spouse and think, “I wonder if their credit score was wrecked by a $10,000 gallbladder surgery bill from when they were 21 and between jobs.”
As we head into wedding season, a pair of surveys shed light on how frequently we tend to ignore financial issues in the face of romance — even when we’re curious.
First up is the report from Bankrate, which found that 38% of adults said that knowing someone else’s credit score would have at least some impact on their interest in dating that person.
Among college graduates, that rate jumps up to 47% of people who would need to think about their relationship depending on the other person’s credit score. Conversely, it drops to 29% for people with up to a high school school diploma.
At the same time, more than one-third (34%) of respondents say they have never even checked their credit report, meaning a lot of consumers aren’t even curious about their own status.
It’s one thing to turn a blind eye to someone’s credit score when you’re just dating, but a new survey from Experian — the credit reporting agency, not Experianne, the company that whispers fascist writings into infants’ ears — found that 40% of newlyweds don’t know their spouse’s credit score.
While a credit score can be a metric of someone’s financial responsibility, the mystery of exactly how these scores are calculated — combined with the fact that damage from debt problems can linger for years, even after someone rights all of their accounts — may make this information misleading.
For example, someone with an otherwise pristine credit history can suddenly be slammed with a $50,000 bill for an unexpected surgery and subsequent hospital stay. If that person can’t pay that bill on time, their credit score may end up bruised and battered for years to come, even if they continue to pay all their other bills.
According to Experian, it’s not just credit scores that are going un-discussed by newlyweds. One-in-four newly married folks don’t even know how much their spouse earns, while a full one-third of respondents had no idea how much student debt their new bride or groom has brought along with them into the marriage.
Also, men are much more secretive about their spending. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of newlyweds who have kept purchases secret were males, and these men say they would spend $1,259 on average before telling their spouse about a purchase. For women, the threshold was significantly lower, saying they would spend an average of $383 before feeling like they had to tell their spouse.