Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Getting financially intimate

I read a fascinating NYTimes article today about the growing importance of credit scores in dating (at least for the 50 people involved in the quoted survey).  One woman they profiled described a date with the ‘perfect man’ that ended because her low credit score was a deal-breaker for him. “It’s not you, it’s your credit score” – awkward.

I’m a little surprised some people are asking about something as personal as a credit score on a first date, given how touchy of a subject money is.  I won’t lie, I personally find a high credit score to be, dare we say it, kindof sexy.   And I think a high credit score is a decent proxy for being responsible with your money.  I’ve decided that colleges often do a really terrible job of preparing their students to enter the workforce.  That coupled with the current economic climate, means that not having a job is hardly an indication of a degenerate person.  Not having credit card debt (and thus a good credit score) is indicative of 1) having a firm enough grasp on reality to know that there is no such thing as free money and you can’t spend money you don’t have, and 2) having the self-control to choose long-term financial health and savings over current (and most likely, passing) desires.

Still, most people in their early twenties with great credit scores owe that to the foresight of parents who added them to family credit cards … and many people with mediocre credit scores simply haven’t been using credit for long enough to build up their score.  Yet if there’s a movement of people who are being more deliberate in finding a partner by ensuring financial (as well as emotional & sexual) compatibility, that can only be a good thing for our financial self-awareness.  I think that most of the time, people with money problems are people who haven’t given much though to how they live and spend, and what their long-term goals are.  It’s easier to not be an idiot with your money when you’re working towards a goal (whether it’s buying a house, being able to shift to a less stressful but more interesting job, or having the freedom to take a year-long sabbatical).

The idea of combining finances with someone is pretty terrifying, but I don’t personally think a bad credit score is a deal-breaker, provided the situation is being fixed (and debt eliminated).  However, I don’t have high tolerance for people who blame their bad situation on others – sure, maybe you grew up poor and ended up overspending because you mistakenly believed having more things would make you happy, but while your upbringing contributed, ultimately it’s your responsibility to evaluate and change your ingrained money habits if they’re bad ones.  And yes, it’s not easy to recognize (or change) them.  But I can guarantee that if you blame other people for where your life went (even if you were dealt a bad hand of cards, so to speak), you will probably grow into a bitter, unhappy, and unsuccessful person.

What about you – what are your dating deal-breakers?  Do you care about people’s credit scores (and do you know your own)?  I’ll be frank that I wouldn’t want to be with someone that didn’t value education – I love school, and if I had a trust fund would absolutely collect degrees and learn lots and lots through formal education for my entire life.  I’ve realized that not everyone tries to learn constantly by reading like I do, but being curious and eager to learn are a must.

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