If you have less than stellar credit, you may believe that living a cash-only existence, is a way around your bad credit rating. You may also believe that given an economic climate where more and more people are facing financial difficulties, your own low credit score is just another drop in an every-growing bucket.
The unfortunate truth is that, no matter how much you avoid credit cards and no matter what the current economic climate, a low credit score can still have damaging effects. To make matters worse, a bad credit score not only affects your financial life, it can actually harm your romantic relationships.
What Is a Credit Score?
Your credit score is basically a ranking based on information provided credit reporting agencies including, your debts, payment history, and employment history.
The most widely-used score I called the FICO, named after the Fair Issac Corp, which developed that particular method of scoring. The FICO is a range from 300 to 850; anything over 750 is considered excellent and anything below 550 is considered problematic.
Ultimately, your credit score predicts your ability to pay your debts however, rightfully or not, it is also used as a character indicator, which is why it can have such an effect on other areas of your life.
Your Credit Score and Your Relationships
You may believe that love should transcend money, and that anyone who would judge someone based on her credit score isn’t worth knowing.
The thing is, your financial issues might not affect how your partner feels about you but, if you get married, it could affect how you and your partner get through life together. Even if you manage to keep your pre-marriage debts separate, a bad credit score can still have an impact on your marriage. Bad credit affects your employment prospects, your housing options, and even your ability to get certain types of insurance.
– Credit and Employment
Anyone who has ever had money problems can tell you that it is possible to get behind on bills, and still be a decent, honest, reliable human being. In fact, the financial crisis of 2008 resulted in thousands of good, decent human beings getting sucked into a devastating financial whirlwind.
People lost jobs and were unemployed so long that they lost their benefits, and had to resort to living on credit that they had no way of paying back. Those who were still employed saw reduced hours, and pay cuts, while interest rates rose, causing thousands to default, losing their homes to foreclosure. You may even have been one of those people.
Now that the economy is recovering, and the unemployment rate is dropping, you may be looking for a better job. In a world where67 percent of households are dual income, you having a good job may be crucial to the success of your relationship.
Unfortunately, many employers use credit scores when making their hiring decisions and candidates with stronger credit scores may get precedence.
While it may not seem fair for an employer to judge you based on your credit score, it is perfectly legal under the Fair Credit Reporting act. You can refuse to give an employer permission to view your credit information, but that could send up red flags and lose you the job.
If you are planning to avoid the credit/employment trap and start your own business, your credit score can prevent you from getting a business loan.
Ultimately, when it comes to your earning potential, having bad credit can make it very difficult for you to support your family and ultimately strain your relationship.
– Credit and Housing
You may be aware that a bad credit score can prevent you from getting a mortgage. In fact, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, you might not be able to get a mortgage at all, unless you can come up with a large down payment.
However, what you may not know is that landlords can also legally use your credit history to determine whether or not to rent to you. If you and your partner are looking for a place to live, your credit score could prevent that from happening, or relegate you to living in areas where neither of you is comfortable, all of which can take a toll on your relationship.
– Credit and Insurance
You may know that you need good credit to get a car or home loan; you may not know that you also need decent credit to get auto and homeowners insurance. In fact, in some cases, if you credit score is low enough, you could end up not getting coverage, or paying premiums that are as much as four times higher than average.
While this practice is prohibited in some states, a majority of state allow this practice. In most states insurance companies are required to notify you if your score prevents you from getting coverage, or results in a higher rate, but that is little consolation if you find yourself shut out because of your credit score.
Several consumer advocate groups are working to ban insurance and employer credit checks, but that is slow going.
You could try to do self credit repair by negotiating with your creditors and disputing invalid entries on your credit report. However, the process of self credit repair is often difficult, complex, and time consuming. Not only that, but in some cases it can even result in a worse score than when you started the process.
Engaging the services of a credit repair, or credit counseling, company can help you get back on track and improve your score. The company takes over the task of negotiating with your creditors and disputing bad entries in your credit report. You pay them a monthly fee, but you don’t have to invest any time and energy to take care of it yourself.
Cleaning up your credit record will improve your job prospects, make it easier to find the housing you deserve, and to get the services you need for everyday life. And, as a result, it will also improve, and even save, your relationships.