Love may be just a four-letter word, but the notion of romance for many millennials hinges on three little digits — a potential partner’s credit score!
Read more: 8 ways to avoid surprise wedding costs
I ♥ credit scores
You already know that credit scores hold the key to unlocking better interest rates for borrowers, lower premiums from insurance companies and even job offers from many employers.
But did you know that they can impact how many dates single folks get?
New research from Discover Financial Services and Match Media Group — the parent company of Tinder — shows 69% of the 2,000 respondents they asked say financial responsibility is of the highest important in a potential mate.
Bloomberg reports that respondents put a potential mate’s financial standing as more important than having a great sense of humor (67%), being attractive (51%), having ambition (50%), being courageous (42%) or being modest (39%).
Both men and women — 77% of females and 61% of men, to be exact — put a premium on financial responsibility. And from the idea of financial responsibility, it’s not difficult to make the leap to credit score becoming the key factor in whether or not you’ll date someone.
In fact, one of the researchers behind the study even declared a high credit score to be a “Darwinian mechanism for measuring your reproductive ability.”
Here’s what makes up your credit score
Most credit card lenders now offer you your real FICO credit score for free. But have you ever wondered exactly what info goes into your score?
Here’s a breakdown, courtesy of myFICO.com:
Here’s how to improve your credit score
If you’re suffering from poor credit, there are several surefire ways to get your credit healthy again and to expand your prospects of romance.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way:
1. Always pay your bills on time and pay down the total amount you owe.
2. Keep a low credit utilization rate. Aim to use only 30% or less of your available credit at any one time.
3. When you pay off a credit card, don’t close the account. Doing so only reduces your available credit.
4. Make sure different types of credit make up your credit mix. But avoid store cards at all costs!
5. Don’t open too many new lines of credit at once.
Get the straight scoop on money and relationships from Clark Howard
Money expert Clark Howard has talked extensively about the impact finances can have on a relationship — and it’s something that he knows from his own experience.
“My wife and I are what I call the MasterCard logo couple. When we met 23 years ago, we were opposites with how we approached money,” he says. “Over time, we have merged our ways and the logo has crossed over more and more.”
In the best tradition of marriage, Clark and his wife Lane learned over time how to compromise.
“My late dad used to get so frustrated with my cheap ways. He would say to me, ‘What, do you want to be the Pharaoh in Egypt buried with your treasure? Loosen up!'” Clark recalls. “So I’ve learned to loosen up the purse-strings some. And Lane has learned to be thriftier.”
In Clark and Lane’s case, their completely opposite instincts work beautifully together.
When it comes to the advice he gives others, one of Clark’s favorite ways for couples to handle money together is doing what he calls the “his, hers and theirs” system.
That means you have one central household account that each person funds every pay period or every month to pay basic household expenses. Then you also each have your own money to spend how you wish on everyday stuff.
This works particularly well today when you often have couples coming together after they’ve already lived a little and gained some assets.
Another approach for couples that Clark talks about is setting a floor limit of spending so you can each have discretionary money. For some couples that might be $100 or less. For others, it might be $200 or more. That’s the money you can spend any way you wish without having to consult your spouse or partner about the financial decision.
“Having given financial advice for decades, I can tell you I’ve seen debt issues tear relationships apart,” Clark says.
So above all, the #1 rule of handling money in a relationship is to have a budget and stick to it. It’s timeless advice that never goes out of style.
And that’s something we can all agree to swipe right on!