A new report out this week reveals a lot about the way we determine marriage potential. In fact, the new FreeCreditScore.com survey shows that 30 percent of single women and 20 percent of single men won’t consider marriage with someone whose credit scores are in the tank. There was a time when we ran background checks on potential love interests, these days, though, we’re looking to see if they make their Visa payments on time. It’s easier to run a background check, but that’s not stopping single Americans from digging through to the sweet spot that reveals one’s ability to pay his debts.
If the credit reports reveal past payment patterns, singles are also looking at the here and now to see if a potential mate can keep a check on his or her spending habits. They say current money management is important as well. For women, they say it’s more important than one’s ambition, sex appeal, intimacy level and physical attributes. In other words, forget the dozen roses, women today want 12 months of your payment history.
But women – you’re not alone. That new guy that just asked you to dinner says he too wants a potential mate to understand finances, have the ability to balance her checkbook and a strong credit history. This is only “slightly less important” than intimacy and sex appeal. Further, your career choices are down the list of priorities and being physically attractive is just half the picture: the other half is that strong financial foundation.
Strong Credit Scores a Girl’s Best Friend
Here’s where it gets interesting: a whopping 75 percent of women say that magic number that determines your scores is absolutely crucial while 57 percent of men say the actual score is the determining factor for them. Gone are those days when women relied on her husband’s credit scores; these days, they’re taking full charge – so much so that they’re not as interested in why a man’s scores are what they are, but rather, what the scores are in terms of compatibility with her own level of financial responsibility.
Used to be that the five determining factors in those early days of dating were physical attraction, common interests, shared faith or religious beliefs, marriage compatibility and family approval. Not anymore. These days, earning, spending, saving, goal setting and investing are where the attention is focused.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with so much attention paid to one’s financial habits is beside the point; those who do focus on these dynamics say they want to be sure anyone they decide to date seriously won’t present problems should they decide to buy a home or car together. Not only that, but those who do focus on these matters also say that they’ve worked hard for their strong credit histories and they don’t want to jeopardize it by entangling their scores and lives with those whose emphasis isn’t on their financial habits. One woman who participated in the survey said she didn’t want to “attach myself to someone who would bring me down”. The physical attraction matters none if there’s an inability to manage money, she explained.
But Singles are Ditching Credit Cards. For many young adults today, credit cards are not the way to financial independence. In fact, the number of young Americans who are living without credit cards has doubled since the recession. By the end of 2012, only 16 percent of American consumers who were between 18 and 29 had made the decision to not carry a credit card at all. That number was just 8 percent in 2007.
That means there are fewer young consumers who are as focused as some of their counterparts on credit histories. The average credit card debt between 2007 and 2012 for those in that age group dropped from $3,073 to $2,087. Even if many younger Americans aren’t building their lives around building their credit, that might bode well for those who do make it a priority. According to some, no credit could be akin to sterling credit when it comes to dating and marriage.
Learning from Others Mistakes
So why are younger Americans avoiding the credit system? Many saw their parents struggle during the recession and as a result, they have chosen to steer clear of this aspect of life. For now, anyway. And to bypass all of that credit mumbo-jumbo, they’re opting to use their debit cards associated with their checking accounts or prepaid debit cards (which have grown tremendously in this age bracket). It’s an attractive option for these younger people, partly due to the aggressive marketing efforts and the big financial names like American Express and Chase throwing into the hat their own prepaid products.
But don’t underestimate the contribution of the 2010 CARD Act. It has very definitive specifics for credit card companies and banks who issue credit cards to those under the age of 21. Without a co-signer or a way to prove one’s ability to repay their debts, they likely won’t get approval. As a result, the number of consumers 18 to 29 years old with excellent FICO scores of 760 or higher saw an impressive jump from 8.6% in 2005 to 11.2% last year.
Student Loan Debt
There are also other numbers that could be affecting a young consumer’s decisions about his credit. Student loan debt is staggering and only getting worse. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, those who require a peek at a potential partner’s credit scores might be basing their decision on factors they’re not even privy to. Many younger Americans have student loan debt that they’re struggling to pay.
This, of course, affects their credit scores. Is it fair, then, for a 24 year old to be judged on his credit scores, which might have been very impressive before realizing that the job market wasn’t strong and therefore found himself in a bit of trouble with his student loan payments?
For that matter, is it even fair for anyone to judge another based on his bank account and revolving credit accounts? There are psychological considerations. Some are in the camp that if anyone is overly eager to discuss credit and money early on in a relationship likely won’t be good marriage material anyone. It’s true: younger Americans have become a bit more materialistic, even as credit card accounts fall in volume. And what happens when someone is too busy focusing on ways to snoop around in someone’s financial lives and miss out on a great guy or girl? How long can anyone justify their focus before they find themselves being labeled as materialistic?
Finally, for those who are determined to do it their way, complete with less focus on intimacy and sex and more attention paid to the bank balances, there are websites that specialize in gathering all of the single folks with great credit scores. If you don’t meet a minimum threshold, you can forget becoming a member. Odds are, you don’t have a credit card to pay the monthly subscriptions anyway. It just might be that the absence of a credit card is the wisest thing one can not own if they’re dating and looking for Mr. or Miss Right.
What are your thoughts? Is this a healthy trend or would you tell your son or daughter to run in the opposite direction if they began poking around their credit history?
Similar Credit Card Blog Posts
- Double Disturbances for Young Consumers
- What You Need to Know About Student Loans
- How Did Credit Cards Evolve?
- 6 Tips For Handling Student Loan, Credit Card Debt
- Does Dubai Have the Right Financial Ideas?
- New to the Credit Game?
- Debt and Credit Cards