RISMEDIA, February 16, 2010—(MCT)-One possible reason he’s just not that into you: Your weak credit score. One-third of people said they’d wait to marry someone until that person’s credit score improved, according to a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, commissioned by PayPal.
More than one-third of those who were surveyed said they would consider not marrying or moving in with someone unless he or she “makes a fair amount of money.” And 65% said they wouldn’t want to date someone with significant debt.
“So many younger people have experienced difficulty with credit in the last year than they did before,” said Hillary Mendelsohn, money spending expert for PayPal. As people become more conscious of their money-related issues, they are also more likely to be on the prowl for people who have their own financial books in order.
That’s probably not a bad idea. In general, for married couples, financial stresses lead to marital stresses, said Lou Scatigna, certified financial planner and author of The Financial Physician. “Let’s face it: Finances are extremely important,” he said. They determine “how you eat, where you live, what you do, whether you travel, whether you have entertainment.” It’s highly likely that a diligent saver and a credit junkie are going to have a bumpy road ahead of them if they decide to marry—and attitudes about money are often engrained in people’s personalities and difficult to change, Scatigna said. “Romantics will say you can’t let money affect love, but the marriage would be doomed if you’re not on the same financial page,” he said. “Rarely does the marriage last when you have financial opposites.”
Additional findings from PayPal’s “Can’t Buy Me Love” survey:
-Money and finances are the number one reason participants said they argued with their significant other.
-45% of couples fight at least once a month about finances, and for those “traumatized by the current economy,” the arguments are more frequent.
-42% feel that someone in their relationship is spending too much money.
-11% of participants have been on one end of a breakup caused by debts.
Before tying the knot
Mendelsohn said that couples could save themselves some heartache if they have a heart-to-heart about finances before things get too serious. “If someone has a totally different attitude about money, that’s a flag of how it’s going to be in the rest of the relationship. You have to assess whether it’s something you want to live with long term,” she said. “What you see is usually what you get.”
But judging someone by his or her credit score isn’t the best way to determine a person’s attitudes about finances, Scatigna said. That may be especially true in today’s economy, when more people have foreclosures on their financial records or have fallen behind on bills due to a loss of employment. Instead of fixating on a number, focus on the person’s daily financial behavior, he said. Do they blow money? Do they buy things they can’t afford? Do they gamble? Are they long-term oriented in the way they think about money? Just by virtue of spending time with someone, you’ll also pick up on whether the person is extremely generous or notoriously stingy—and if that attitude jibes with your own.
And if your love interest is currently unemployed, pay special attention to their level of effort in finding a new position, Mendelsohn said. “There are so many people in that situation. Now, the attractiveness is how you’re going to handle it,” she said. Those determined and actively committed to finding a new job will create a lot more respect and admiration than those who behave like a victim.
Making it work
Regardless of whether you share bank or credit accounts, Scatigna says married couples should sit down with their bills and investment statements each month to discuss them and come up with ways to improve their finances. They also might discuss if they’re saving enough, as well as what they should be socking away for college or retirement.
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