As we approach the season of the June bride (lily-white wedding gowns, five tier wedding cakes, floral designs and celebrity style venues), we become so consumed by the planning of one 24-hour period that we forget to plan for the future. As this great guy lowered to one knee and confessed he wanted to spend the rest of his life with you, did the thought ever cross your mind that “forever” could be for 60, 30 or maybe just 5 years? According to the National Vital Statistics Reporting Agency the average life span of a first marriage today is 7.8 years for women over 25. The agency also reports that 50% of all first marriages end in divorce which researchers have found is largely due to finances.
While the longevity of a marriage cannot be guaranteed, you can increase your chances by asking one simple question, “What’s your credit score”? An individual’s credit score is an algorithmic formula calculated into a number, which predicts the likelihood of an individual repaying future debt obligations. This risk management tool gives potential creditors, employers, and insurers the ability to determine whether or not they would like to conduct business or enter into an agreement with you. A full credit report will show how an individual has conducts their personal finances over time, current and past.
Hmmm? A marriage is an agreement (isn’t it?). Yes! It is a legal binding contract between two individuals. Wouldn’t it be great if you could minimize the risk going into the contract by having a better understanding of the past? Sounds simple! I sometimes joke with my friends that in the early phases of dating, we are often introduced to and courted by a representative. We usually don’t meet the true individual until after the I do’s.
Before we take the big walk down the aisle, we normally create a checklist of things that must be completed. Meet the grooms parents (check), health exam results (check), grooms tux (check), etc. Why not ask for the credit profile? The credit profile will tell you, how well your groom has paid his debt obligations over time, how much debt he has outstanding, how long he has utilized credit and whether or not he has filed for bankruptcy within the past 7-10 years. Why is this important? This information will determine whether you will be able to jointly pursue future credit (i.e. a mortgage) with your future husband. But more importantly, an individual’s credit profile will give you an indicator of their “true” overall financial character (i.e. not the representative).
Marriage is one of the ways a man says to a woman, “I truly love you and I want the world to know it!” The real test however is making the union last over time. There will be many trials that will test your marriage, don’t make poor credit behavior one of them. Give yourself an increased opportunity at a successful partnership financially!