If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that we think it’s very important to discuss financial issues before the Big Day. One important issue that usually goes unnoticed is talking about at each other’s credit score and reports.
Why is this important? Well, while each of you will always have your own credit report and score, (there’s no such thing as a joint credit report), one spouse’s lower score can affect the team when you go to get a joint loan for a large purchase. If the mortgage company or other lender sees that one of you has a low score, that could signal a higher interest rate and cost you thousands (or more) over the life of a loan. If this is the case, devote some time to working to improve your spouse’s score.
What your credit score means
Credit scores, called FICO scores, generally range from 300 (poor) to 850 (excellent). Each of the three credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, track them, based on the data they have. The score measures your “credit risk” and a higher number indicates that you will be a lower credit risk. Therefore, a higher score will generally result in more access to credit at lower rates. A score above 760 will get you the lowest interest rates, but, once your number falls below 700, you could be paying significantly more for that loan. The FICO score is calculated based on the following criteria: payment history : 35%, amounts owed as compared to amount available: 30%, length of credit history: 15%, new credit: 10% and types of credit used: 10%.
Getting Your Credit Score
There are many ways to get your credit report and score – a lot of credit card companies will give you your FICO score for free with each monthly statement and you can get one free report from each of the credit bureaus every 12 months by ordering it through www.annualcreditreport.com.
If you’re not getting a free score through your credit card company, or, if you find that your score is low or could use a boost, take the relatively inexpensive plunge ($20 at the time of this writing) and order your score and report through myFico.com. You only need to order the One Time Score and Report at this time – not the more expensive monitoring service. This report will not only provide your score and your credit history with one of the credit bureaus, it will show you the top factors affecting your score – use this to start work if you need to repair or raise your credit score.
Use Your Credit Score to Prepare for Your Future
Similarly, use this credit report research to put you both on the same page financially. If one spouse has a great deal of student debt, or credit card purchases that are not paid off, it’s important for your new partnership to discuss the best way to handle this going forward. Should you pay off the debt together with your combined new income or should one spouse continue to pay? The question is best answered by deciding what’s best for you as a couple. Now that you are a team, you need to think differently about what benefits the team the most.
Your new life together is about to start, and you need to look out for the team. Now is the time to prepare for the future ahead, and get on the same page when it comes to your financial vision.
Are you ready to be a Power Couple? Check out our PowerPlans, specially designed to help newlyweds and soon-to-weds reach their financial goals – together.