By Jocelyn Baird, NextAdvisor.com
When it comes to love, many people are looking for someone to commit to and settle down with. Many different aspects of a person's life and personality, from height to their favorite ice cream, are touted as indicators of whether they'll be a good partner or not -- and most can be easily disproved as arbitrary. However, according to new research by the Federal Reserve Board, your credit score is actually a fairly accurate predictor how successful your love life is going to be. This data comes from a paper recently published by the board, based on analysis of a study of 12 million U.S. consumers who were randomly selected from the Equifax database. These individuals were studied over a period of 15 years, and researchers used an algorithm to track committed couples of all types -- including some that live together but aren't legally married.
You probably already know that your credit scores are used by banks, credit card issuers, car dealerships, insurance companies and more to determine the risk of lending you money or providing services, but it seems that there is a very real connection between your love life and your credit score. We've broken down exactly how one impacts the other (according to the Federal Reserve Board study), and also come up with some suggestions for those who are worried that their poor credit has earned them a lifetime membership to the lonely hearts club.
How your credit score impacts your love life
1. People with higher credit scores are more likely to commit and stay committed. Not only do credit scores play a huge role in whether people form and stay in committed relationships, it turns out that the higher your credit scores, the more likely you are to form committed relationships and marriage -- and stay in those relationships. In an era of commitment issues, this is definitely something for people on the hunt for a life mate to consider. It's not exactly ideal to grill a blind date on his or her creditworthiness, but it's important to get a good grasp on a person's financial status before progressing any relationship beyond a casual romance.
2. Well-matched credit scores can predict whether a couple stays together. Since higher credit scores are an indicator that a person is more likely to commit and stay committed, it should be no surprise that people with well-matched credit scores are more likely to stay together. If you and your partner have similar credit scores when your relationship begins, that can be a good predictor of whether you'll stay together long-term. The higher your credit scores are when a relationship starts, the less likely you will separate after the first few years. This is because credit scores converge over time -- however, if you start with a wide gap (one person with good credit, another with poor credit), the more likely the relationship won't last.
Considering finances are the No. 1 source of stress in relationships, it makes sense that couples who share good credit as a commonality are less likely to separate. If one or both people in a relationship has poor credit, the resulting stress can lead to arguments over finances or the inability to access the necessities for a comfortable life like a new car or a mortgage.
3. Higher credit scores indicate skills that apply elsewhere in life. You might be wondering what it is about good credit that makes a person a better partner. Well, consider the skills necessary for a person to establish and maintain good credit -- such as the ability to manage finances and commit to their obligations -- and you'll understand. Of course, less-than-perfect credit isn't an indicator that someone isn't worthy of love. Plenty of people have successful relationships with bad credit; however, better credit can make things easier overall, which means more time to spend focusing on the happiness of your partner and family.
What if your credit isn't doing so hot?
If you're feeling dismayed at this news, fear not! It's possible to improve your credit scores. While doing so isn't a 100% guarantee to a happy and successful love life, better credit can certainly make other areas of your life easier. And when you're less stressed about finances, you'll have more energy to devote to finding and sustaining a romantic relationship. How can you improve your credit?
1. Obtain copies of your credit reports and scores. In order to assess your personal situation, it's important that you know exactly what's on your credit reports -- and what your credit scores are. You can obtain your credit reports from the three credit bureaus for free once per year through AnnualCreditReport.com. It does cost money to see your credit scores, but you can get around spending that money by signing up for a credit report monitoring service with a free trial then canceling before the trial runs out. However, if your credit isn't doing so hot and you'd like to keep an eye on its progress, you should consider choosing a service that fits your needs and keeping it past the trial period.
2. Take action to build or repair your credit. Whether you don't have much, if any, credit to speak of or need to recover from a catastrophic event that wrecked your credit (such as bankruptcy), there are certain actions you can take to help boost your credit scores over time. It won't happen overnight, but consistent effort on your part will make an impact. Monitoring your credit reports and notifying the credit bureaus of any errors you might spot is a good first step. Beyond that, paying your bills in full and on time as well as paying off any credit cards or outstanding loans you have can also be helpful. Another thing you may want to consider is opening a secured credit card, as they are designed for people with not-so-perfect credit, and most will even report your payment history to all three credit bureaus. Read this blog post to learn more about secured credit cards and how they differ from prepaid cards.
You can learn more about monitoring your credit by following our credit report monitoring blog. Have great credit and want to charge forward into the world of dating? Consider giving online dating a chance and check our reviews of the top-rated dating sites while you're at it.
This blog post originally appeared on NextAdvisor.com.