The financial question you should always ask on a first date…
Let’s face it…you probably have a love-hate relationship with first dates. Regardless, first dates are a necessary evil to find your soulmate. It’s a chance for you to interview your “candidate” on everything from their dating history to if they like like long walks on the beach. With first date stakes high, there is one question that you’ve probably not asked that should be added to the question lineup immediately.
Do you know your credit score?
Your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your life. Sure, most won’t give it out at a bar but it is the single number than can effect everything from your mortgage, rent, car payment, credit card, cell phone bill, utilities and just about everything else. For a number with such importance, you’ve got to do your due diligence on the first date to simply ask if they know the number and maybe wait until the second date (if they get that far) to ask what the actual score is. If you don’t know your own credit score…let’s break it down so you can be confident when you ask.
Do you know your credit score? #ThePerfectSwipe
— The Perfect Swipe (@ThePerfectSwipe) November 6, 2016
Your credit score is a number than ranges from 300 – 850 with any number over 700 considered “good”.
The score itself is made up of many factors ranked from most to least important:
- Credit Card Utilization is how much of your credit limit you are utilizing. You want to keep this number under 30% if at all possible. For example, if you have a credit card with a $10,000 limit, try to never let the balance get above $3,000. (High)
- Payment History is one of the easiest things to control on your score. Even if you’re only paying the minimum payment due ALWAYS pay your bill on time. Even a single late payment can have a large impact on your score. (High)
- Derogatory Marks such as bankruptcies, liens or foreclosures will have a detrimental impact to your score. (High)
- Age of Credit History is where you’ll have to be the most patient. This is measuring the average time your accounts have been open with anything less than 6 years being poor. If you’re new to building your credit try to focus on keeping the other metrics strong since this will take many years to improve. (Medium)
- Total Accounts is an area that actually surprises most. To have a strong credit score it typically means that you should have more than 10 accounts across credit cards, mortgages, etc. Many TPS readers have reported having poor scores simply due to their lack of credit cards. More cards in many cases can improve your score as long as you’re balancing the other metrics listed and using your credit responsibly. (Low)
- Credit Inquiries is the area where you’ll have the most control. A hard inquiry as they are called is when you voluntarily have your credit pulled when opening a credit card or new account that requires a measurement of your credit worthiness. Try to keep this number under 3 or 4 in a 12 month period. Anything above this will look like a red flag to a bank. (Low)
There are two last things you’ll want to do in order to keep track of your credit score:
- Sign up for Credit Karma to keep track of your credit score on a weekly basis. Credit Karma comes at absolutely no cost, updates weekly and does not negatively impact your score.
- Check your full credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com to review accuracy and to check for identity theft. By law, you’re able to pull your credit report from this site every 12 months for free and without impact to your credit history.
So, as you’re prepping for your next first date – don’t forget the importance of knowing how financially responsible the candidate in front of you truly is. May the odds be ever in your favor.