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The Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., a somber organization without a romantic bone in its body, recently issued an in-depth report about the dynamics of committed relationships between significant others. The findings show that birds of a feather do, indeed, flock together. Apparently having similar credit scores makes couples more compatible. But when one person’s credit is great and the other’s is lousy, that can predict a breakup in the not-too-distant future.
Credit Scores and Committed Relationships
What the researchers did was study the role of credit scores within relationship, regardless of other factors such as the demographic characteristics of the people in those relationships. They discovered that the average level of credit and how well credit scores matched-up within couples could predict rather consistently whether or not the couple would stay together or experience a separation. The report explained that credit scores tend to reveal insights into not just financial profiling, but also an individual’s relationship skills and level of commitment. A key understanding from the study is that trustworthiness is vital to relationships, and when credit scores are similar that trust tends to be more present in the relationship. Don't know your partner's credit score? You can get it pretty easily using a free credit reporting tool.
Some Interesting Observations
There were three other major takeaways from the study.
1) First, credit scores are positively correlated with the likelihood of forming a committed relationship and its subsequent stability. Although it may not be appropriate to inquire about someone’s financial credit on a first date, it may be a very reasonable topic of discussion if you are embarking on a long-term relationship or marriage.
2) Committed relationship strength and compatibility based on credit scores also seems to hold true regardless of other common similarities between the partners. You may both share the same hobbies and interests or cultural backgrounds, for example, but if your credit scores aren’t closely aligned it could spell doom for your relationship.
3) Third, the initial match quality in credit scores is highly predictive of subsequent separations – even when controlling for other factors such as couples’ use of credit and the occurrence of financial distress. If you want to help ensure the health and sustainable well-being of your relationship, in other words, it might be wise to choose a partner whose credit score is similar to yours
How Credit Scoring Might Correlate to Relationships
Lenders use credit scores as a way to get a quick and reliable snapshot of your overall credit worthiness, and to assess what the risk is that you won’t repay your loan on time. The scores are computed using complex algorithms that measure a lot of data related to your credit history. But the end result is a numerical ranking of how much a lender can rely on you to be a good borrower who keeps your promises to repay obligations. It’s easy to see why that kind of behavior and trustworthiness would also apply to relationships based on commitment and being a dependable partner. When you both have solid credit, it could very well indicate that both of you will also keep your vows and stay committed to fulfilling relationship responsibilities.
Two Ways to Improve Your Credit Score
We may not be able to give you advice on picking your next sweetheart or ensuring a smoother marriage, but we do know some ways to boost your credit score. The number one rule is to pay your bills on time, or even a few days before they come due. If you miss a payment deadline – even by a few hours – it can hurt your score. If you completely default on a loan or credit card payment, it can torpedo that score.
The next most important tip is to not overuse the credit available to you. When you qualify for credit but don’t use all of it, that shows that you have financial discipline – a quality lenders love to see. Credit scoring agencies carefully scrutinize the ratio between your credit and your overall debt, too, which is really important to your score. If you have lots of debt and very little available credit – like when you max-out your plastic and also have other debts like student loans or a mortgage – that financial burden could cause you to miss a payment. If, on the other hand, you are relatively debt-free and also have lines of credit or credit limits on your plastic that you aren’t using, that makes you financially stronger.
Your Debt-to-Credit Ratio
Lenders call that use of available credit your “credit utilization rate.” A good guideline is to only use about 25-30 percent of your available credit. If you have a $1,000 credit limit on a credit card, for example, only use around $250-$300 of that credit before you pay it off again. That will ensure that your credit utilization rate is healthy – and will result in an enhanced credit score.
Who knows? Maybe it will even help you and your significant other experience a more fully committed and long-lasting relationship.