My dad and sister were watching a news segment the other day that said every father should ask to see the credit report of prospective suitors. After first thinking about how chauvinist this report sounded – I don’t need my dad’s approval or my boyfriend’s ability to take on debt to support me, thank you very much! — I agreed that it’s really not that terrible of an idea. My sister thought so, too, and backed my dad up by saying she “wants to marry a guy who has a sense of humor. If he can’t find that funny, I don’t even want to be with him!”
So fast forward to last week, I was watching Gossip Girl on Netflix while snagging a free copy of my credit report when my husband asked, “Can you show me how to see mine?” I was shocked! In an entire decade of being an adult, he had never been interested enough to learn how. Not just that, but I had never been persistent enough to do it for him. In 8 years of dating, neither one of us had ever seen his credit report.
Let me take a moment for a little vignette – if you’ve never pulled a copy of your credit report, you can do so for FREE every single year by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. You’ll want to do it to check for identity theft, forgotten accounts, or accidental combination of your credit history with someone else’s. Your actual credit score will cost you a few dollars and you don’t need to pull it unless you’re curious of course.
DO NOT go to the website (freecreditreport.com) from all those catchy commercials. There’s no need, and it isn’t free! Annualcreditreport.com will allow you to get a free report once a year from each of the three major agencies. IBWT tip: pull a free report from only 1 agency every four months, and it’s like getting three free reports each year!
Mr. Budget comments from time to time about all the credit cards I have open. Then we discovered that he has three open lines of credit (called “credit card” on the report but no card was actually issued) he never realized he had! Fortunately for us, they were all legitimate accounts and it was no case of stolen identity. With the copy of my report, we were able to baseline where we’re at financially in terms of # of accounts, assets, and debts:
In all, we have 26 open accounts between us and only two of those have standing debt balances. Of that debt, $12,860 is an auto loan and ~$5,500 is an outstanding student loan which we COULD pay off in cash now but we have a split opinion on which debt to pay off first.
Did we pull our credit scores, too? Nah. I don’t see a need. We’re not going to be applying for any loans in the near future so it doesn’t really matter what the number is. What’s cool though is that we’re completely aware of how stretched out our accounts are and we can work to de-clutter our finances with this list.
If you’re newly married or are in a committed relationship, this might be a good step 1 to help you get perspective. Be sure to check back for Newlywed Finances (Part 2):
Arguing Over Setting our Financial Goals.
What do you think? Should you ask to see a fiance’s credit report before getting married? Were you ever surprised by something you found on your credit report?