Preserving Marital Bliss
Good Credit Marrying Bad Credit
By Daniel Muniz
Your wedding is around the corner but your significant other has terrible credit while yours is pristine. What can you do to preserve your marital bliss while keeping your excellent credit score intact?
First of all, it is important to note that marriage does not ruin good credit. A credit report is solely based upon the credit history and activity of just one person and marrying someone else will not combine scores or any credit data. But there are still plenty of ways for your future spouse to wreck your high credit score.
Until your beloved gets his or her financial house in order, which may take years to accomplish, you must take extreme measures to protect your credit status after you exchange wedding vows. Here are some tips to consider:
Do Not Sign Joint Agreements
The number one rule to preserve your good credit is to not let someone else ruin it. The moment you co-sign a credit agreement, you are on the hook regardless of any outcome such as divorce or bad behavior from your spouse. A creditor doesn’t care about your sob story to why an account was never paid because you are now legally obligated to it.
Unfortunately, that means that certain large purchases may have to be postponed but marriage in of itself is all about delayed self-gratification.
Limit Authorized Users
Even though you are not a part of any joint credit agreements with your spouse, you can still allow him or her to become an authorized user to a credit card. Perhaps that is the best option you can pursue in sharing some kind of credit together although it ought to be only one or two cards. And such a card should have a very low credit limit so that your beloved cannot do much damage if he or she goes hog wild with it.
Keep Checking Accounts Separate
This is perhaps the hardest thing to do with plenty of couples because there is an expectation that money will be co-mingled upon marriage. If your spouse has bad credit, then do not open a joint checking account. You must be able to be fully accountable for your own money without someone else needlessly siphoning it off without your knowledge.
It is really hard to pay bills without money in your bank account. By maintaining separate checking accounts, you can track all of the expenditures yourself while ensuring that your paychecks do not disappear. Your spouse may go into a tirade about it but it is absolutely essential for you to have complete control over your own money.
Take Charge of the Finances
Nothing can ruin your credit faster than when your significant other conveniently forgets to pay the credit card bills or goes out and buys the 42-inch high-definition plasma widescreen television set that both of you cannot afford.
You have to physically open every bill that comes in the mail and read every letter. Afterwards, you must organize all of the bills yourself and be solely responsible for them. There are just too many horror stories an irresponsible spouse not paying bills on time and you shouldn’t be the victim of that. To prevent any nasty surprises you have to take full charge of making all the payments.
Let Your Spouse Fail
Just like refusing to have joint checking accounts, this perhaps the next hardest thing to do. Even people with shaky credit can still find predatory lenders to loan them money. But don’t bail out your significant other when such a deal goes sour. Let him or her fail because you cannot imperil your own financial solvency which could end up demolishing your own good credit. Yes, it is harsh but what is worse? Having both spouses with bad credit or just one?
Don’t Live Paycheck to Paycheck
Too many people live paycheck to paycheck in which financial ruin is only a short hop away. A lot of people, even the ones with good or decent credit, do live life on the edge. As a result, it doesn’t take much to get pushed financial oblivion. Take charge of the family budget so that you are not always teetering on the brink of disaster.
Maintain an Emergency Fund
Some people think savings accounts are for losers who cannot get credit. But having money set aside is the best step to avert living “paycheck to paycheck” while preparing for unexpected expenditures. Unfortunately, that means cutting back on some of the fun stuff that couples can enjoy. But that also means avoiding the financial pitfalls that can cause enormous marital stress.
Some of these measures are Draconian in nature especially when there is the expectation that everything will be shared. Unfortunately, things cannot be co-mingled if one person has bad credit. Although the spouse with the bad credit may be resentful for this kind of treatment, it is necessary to preserve the status of the spouse with the good credit. That is just part of being in the “financial” real world.
But all of these measures can some day go away once the other spouse begins to exercise responsible credit behavior. It may take years for that individual to clean up, repair, and rebuild his or her credit but it happens every day.
However, if such good behavior never materializes, then the person with the good credit may have to spend decades if not a lifetime keeping everything separate. It doesn’t mean that you love the other person less but rather that you are attempting to preserve the financial well being of a marriage.