This Money Issue Can Stop Cupid From Striking
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) A wayward arrow isn't much of a problem for cupid, but debt can be. Most single people would have serious reservations about taking on the debt of the person they love even to the point of ending the relationship, according to a new study.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) found that while 46% are willing to marry and jointly pay off debt, 7% would end the relationship if a potential spouse had a significant amount of debt and 54% would not marry until the debt was repaid.
"It appears that debt overrides love, at least temporarily, when deciding to move forward in a relationship," said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. "It's money over marriage."
About 37% said they'd marry but not help to pay off their spouse's debt.
"Debt can have serious, long-lasting personal implications," Cunningham said.
How much debt is too much is different for every relationship.
"It's likely based on the person's long-held attitudes toward money management and debt," Cunningham told MainStreet.
Before deciding whether to marry a potential spouse, experts suggest reviewing credit reports and discussing how larger financial issues might be handled as a couple.
"It's important to be on the same page when it comes to money," said Jeff Tulloch, vice president at MetLife Premier Client Group.
Tulloch advises working together to pay off existing debt and understanding the difference between good and bad debt.
"Be careful that you don't take on too much debt, good or bad, as too much of either still hurts your financial security," Tulloch said.
The fact that debt can cause second thoughts about continuing a relationship may be particularly true with young adults who emerge from college with tens of thousands of dollars in credit card and student loan debt. If two Millennials with similar debt obligations marry, they could begin their happily ever after with a six-figure debt load.
"When considering the negative ramifications of debt, people may not realize that the associated problems can go beyond credit scores and interest rates," Cunningham said. "Debt can also have serious, long-lasting personal implications."
While a marriage license can join two people together for matrimony and taxes, their credit remains separate. The game changes when accounts are opened jointly with each person a co-applicant. One person's low credit score may hinder loan or credit card approval or induce higher interest rates from lenders.
"Financial baggage can be heavy but settling differences before walking down the aisle will go a long way toward making happily ever after a reality," Cunningham said.
Further, there are ways to legitimately improve the credit worthiness of the spouse's bed credit history. For example, adding a person onto an account as an authorized user will cause the credit history to be reported in both the authorized user's name and the primary account holder's name. Over time, with the credit handled responsibly, this will positively impact both credit reports.