San Diego Financial Literacy Center

Does Cupid Still Find Love for Those with Credit Card Debt?

A low credit score can affect many things, for example, where you live, what you drive, and how much you pay in finance charges just to name a few. But, can a poor credit score keep cupid from visiting you? The answer more and more these days may be yes!

The idea for this blog post came from reading a recent New York Times article, “Perfect 10? Never Mind That. Ask Her for Her Credit Score.” One of the studies in the article mentioned, “It’s so widely used that it has also become a bigger factor in dating decisions, sometimes eclipsing more traditional priorities like a good job, shared interests, and physical chemistry.”

Is asking about someone’s credit score before getting into a relationship a smart thing to do? Is it any of your business? Depends on how serious you are, but it might not be such a bad idea if you don’t want a surprise after you have popped the question. It’s probably also in your best interest to get to know and improve (if needed) your credit score to better your odds in the free agent market of love as well.

True Story – Unfortunately, I have lived this scenario. I’ve told this story many times in the personal financial seminars that I deliver in the San Diego community. When I was around 26, the reality of my “having a good time,” began to take its toll on my credit card statements and budget (what there was of a budget, anyway). It wasn’t just going out either. In my case, it was an ex-girlfriend that allowed me get into the situation. I was “in love” and wanted to help her out. She wasn’t from this country and couldn’t get credit on her own. So, I made her an authorized user on my credit cards and opened a new account for her. In just a few years, she helped me rack up close to $26,000 in credit card debt. Needless to say, it’s been almost 20 years since we last spoke, but by the time we broke up, the debt was all mine!

I had to do something and quick. I asked for help from my parents but they declined to help. I had to make a conscious decision to create a budget and plan to pay it back before it got more out of control than it already was. I came up with a plan to take all of the extra money that I had after all my necessary expenses, like rent, car payment, gas, food, and bills. That left me about $450 a month to start paying the 26 grand back. It was a great plan because I was paying back the debt in decent chunks and I had pretty good interest rates on the cards, so I was paying down more principal than interest.

The issue, my dating life was non-existent. Every time that I thought about asking someone on a date I didn’t do it because I was embarrassed that I couldn’t afford to take them out. On a couple of occasions I would meet someone through friends or work and each time I would explain why I couldn’t take them out on a proper date. They would ask how much and would take off running. I had to be honest! I couldn’t hide it. This went on for five years!

The good news is that I met a very beautiful woman at my brother’s engagement party. She was from the East Coast and just in town for her childhood friend. We hit it off right away. I didn’t have to talk about finances at all. We were at my parents’ place and all the food and drinks were taken care of for the weekend. Phew! She was awesome. We talked every night after she went back about everything except…well, you know. Then she asked me if I would like to go on a vacation to Hawaii with her. Oh boy! I had to explain why I couldn’t go and thought, “Oh, here I go again.” There was a slight pause and then she said, “No problem, I will take care of it.” Huh??? Needless to say we have been together ever since and have two great kids.

It still may not be time to change your first line on your dating profile to “I like long walks on the beach, camping, old movies, and my credit score is 756.” Nevertheless, the list of things affected by your credit score is always growing, including your future relationships. Being honest about your situation and doing the best that you can to pay off debt is not easy, but it could lead you to a fantastic and honest relationship. No relationship will ever work if the couple isn’t completely honest about everything from early on in the relationship, especially regarding money! Let’s face it, relationships are hard enough without the burden of debt and/ or bad credit.

About the Author