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Post-Recession, a Hot Credit Score Is the New Sexy


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Revealing your credit score is becoming the new form of pillow talk.

A new survey by Experian Consumer Services (EXPGY) found that 61 percent of couples married after the 2008 recession discussed their credit scores before getting married, compared with only 35 percent of couples who married before 2008.

Couples who married after 2008 were more likely to talk about other financial issues, such as their credit and financial goals, the survey found. And more than just improving their finances as a couple, the survey found that such financial talk is sexier than how a partner looks and that talking openly about personal finances and credit makes the partner more attractive.

'I'll Show You Mine ...'

"It was a 'I'll show you mine, if your show me yours' type of conversation," says Denise Winston, author of a financial guide, who shared credit scores with her future spouse before getting married almost 14 years ago, but wasn't part of the Experian survey.

"Credit scores have the ability to impact our quality of life together." - Denise Winston

"Why? Because credit scores have the ability to impact our quality of life together -- where you live, what you drive, getting a job, insurance and so much more," Winston says. "Not awkward at all for me, maybe a bit for him simply because he never thought about how credit can impact your life."

He had a $40 collection due to a dispute that he insisted he would not pay, she says. That $40 collection ended up costing them $15,000 on their mortgage after they got married because they missed a .25 percent discount for not having all borrowers on the loan at 720 or higher. His credit score was 719, she says. Winston, a banker at the time, had a 780.

In their conversation, they described every detail of daily life of their dream life and dream spouse, including how they dressed, what they drove and if they traveled and had children. "Once you have a conversation like that you become very clear about core values if this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with," she says.

They now each check their credit reports each year and share the information for lots of reasons, Winston says: To prevent identity theft, secret spending and to ensure overall good financial hygiene.
"Credit reveals a lot about a person and their past decisions and life experience," Winston says. "The main thing for me was, I needed to be sure I knew what I was getting myself into. Nothing is worse than turning a blind eye to something, then complaining about it later in a relationship and loosing respect for someone or allowing resentment to build up. Unfortunately, during my 25 years as a banker I saw it all to often."

As the Experian study found, a good credit score is becoming the new sexy, though more for women than men. When asked what makes their spouse more attractive, 73 percent of women and 60 percent of men said openness about personal finances and credit score made the other person more attractive.

Financial attractiveness has become more important than physical attractiveness since the recession. The study found that 95 percent of participants rate "financial responsibility" as important, ahead of "physical attractiveness" at 86 percent and "career ambition" at 77 percent.

Less Stress by Discussing Finances

Talking about credit scores and financial goals regularly leads to less stress in marriage, the survey found. Credit scores were noted as a source of stress for 21 percent of married couples surveyed. However, couples who discuss their scores and financial goals monthly are more apt to agree about financial decisions, including how to use credit as a couple.

The study found that 82 percent of post-recession couples discussed financial goals with their spouse at least monthly, compared with 65 percent of couples married before 2008.

They discussed how much they'd spend before talking with a spouse about it first, including small, everyday purchases.

For example, couples who got married after the recession said the average maximum amount they'd spend before talking with a spouse is $256. Couples married before the recession said they'd feel comfortable spending an average of $1,022 before checking with their partner.

In discussing small, everyday purchases, 75 percent of post-recession couples will likely do so, compared with 59 percent before the recession.

Even the little things matter when discussing financial issues with your spouse or future spouse. Remember that when you see flowers for sale.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance topics. He has written for Bankrate, LearnVest, AARP, WiseBread and AOL.


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