Does A Man’s Credit Score Really Define Him?

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I’ve gone into stores before and got to the point where I wanted to make a purchase and knew that it would be necessary to apply for the store credit card. Although I’m not a fan of credit, it’s an inevitable part of life. Back in the day when my finances were not as in order as they are now, I would get as nervous as a hooker in a clinic waiting back on the results of a credit check. It was almost more surprising when I saw a conversation on Twitter spawned by a NY Times article yesterday on those checking for credit scores on a first date. I mean… really?! You guys who know me, know that I believe in boundaries and pacing yourselves in dating. Personally, I don’t think anyone should be asking about a credit score on the first date, but some people do. I understand why though. These days people don’t have any time to waste when trying to find love or companionship. Check out this excerpt and then after the jump the full article on NY Times.

As she nibbled on strawberry shortcake, Jessica LaShawn, a flight attendant from Chicago, tried not to get ahead of herself and imagine this first date turning into another and another, and maybe, at some point, a glimmering diamond ring and happily ever after.

She simply couldn’t help it, though. After all, he was tall, from a religious family, raised by his grandparents just as she was, worked in finance and even had great teeth.

Her musings were suddenly interrupted when her date asked a decidedly unromantic question: “What’s your credit score?”

“It was as if the music stopped,” Ms. LaShawn, 31, said, recalling how the date this year went so wrong so quickly after she tried to answer his question honestly. “It was really awkward because he kept telling me that I was the perfect girl for him, but that a low credit score was his deal-breaker.”

The credit score, once a little-known metric derived from a complex formula that incorporates outstanding debt and payment histories, has become an increasingly important number used to bestow credit, determine housing and even distinguish between job candidates.

It’s so widely used that it has also become a bigger factor in dating decisions, sometimes eclipsing more traditional priorities like a good job, shared interests and physical chemistry. That’s according to interviews with more than 50 daters across the country, all under the age of 40.

“Credit scores are like the dating equivalent of a sexually transmitted disease test,” said Manisha Thakor, the founder and chief executive of MoneyZen Wealth Management, a financial advisory firm. “It’s a shorthand way to get a sense of someone’s financial past the same way an S.T.D. test gives some information about a person’s sexual past.”

It’s difficult to quantify how many daters factor credit scores into their romantic calculations, but financial planners, marriage counselors and dating site executives all said that they were hearing far more concerns about credit than in the past. “I’m getting twice as many questions about credit scores as I did prerecession,” Ms. Thakor said.

Read the rest here.

Questions for the Massive:

Do you think it’s appropriate to ask someone for their credit score on the first date? Do you think that it’s important to know up front that your date is fiscally irresponsible? What about the “$200 date,” does it matter that their credit is in the trash if they’re willing to shell out major dough for the date? Also, if you found out someone had bad credit what would be your next steps?

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  • cynicaloptmst81

    As a person that knows first hand what divorce can do to your credit, I think its unfair to ask that early in the game. Things happen…or you just simply grow up and become more responsible (even though the damage is already done). I think you should get to know a person first. You really don't need to know a person's credit score to see that they are financially irresponsible. Does their phone and cable stay on? Are they demanding to park in your garage? Are they always broke?

    For as long as the person is financially responsible when I come on the scene, I'm cool.

  • http://twitter.com/MrHymes01 @MrHymes01

    No more than a woman's weave.

    • Cookie

      LOL….and there is a lot of that going on..

  • InsomniaPoet

    I don't think it's an appropriate question for a first date. I don't think my finances are any of your dang business until you think about sharing bills with me. Now if we live together, or are at the point of contemplating living together or marriage then you can ask about my credit/debt/monthly expenditures but until then it isn't any of your concern. If a man asked me for my credit score on the first date, that would be our last date. As for whether fiscal responsibility matters in your potential mate – sure it does – but on the first date I'm not even sure if you have potential. Pump ya brakes!

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

    first date no, long term i need to know what im getting into. Credit scores dont define a persons fiscal responsibility, i know ppl in the 400s (yes 400s) because of medical expenses, others have student loans, ill look more at priorities, if u stay with new shoes but u still cant keep a phone longer than a year that speaks volumes.

    oh and the $200 date is silly, the idea of a date is getting to know someone, if u shelling out bread like that u clearly doing too much
    My recent post Today’s Word is… DEBATE

    • Smilez_920

      +1. Twitter has turned the $200 date into the new "standard" lol.

      I also think age plays a role. If you’re between 22-26 for the most part you’re still getting on your feet, battling Sallie Mae and securing a decent salary, so if you don’t have the greatest credit, it can definitely be fixed.

      Maybe your credit is messed up, but you always have cash handy and like you stated Tristan, bills are paid, money not wastefully spent.

      Your partner’s credit score only hurts you once you tie the knot. If you like him/her, you want to get serious, maybe the person doesn’t have the greatest credit but is actively trying to fix it, and still has money to do fun things as a couple; I don’t see an issue. Just don’t get married until the majority of their credit issues are under control.

      • Cookie

        I agree, when you're young, your credit score can be low/bad because of student loans or if you receive a credit card while in college (not sure why credit card companies do that) and you wind up spending and charging without fully knowing your fiscal responsibility, that is an exception. But once you become an adult, you should be more careful about how you use your credit, because it can affect your ability to get a job, the terms of your mortgage if you want to buy a home/co-op/condo, car, etc. So it is wise that if you have credit issues, to do yourself a favor (forget about the potential mate or curent mate – no offense) and get your credit in order or if you don't know how, seek a (licensed) professional.

  • SimplySaki

    For a first date – I believe that information to be highly inappropriate and intrusive. Let me point out the obvious: not everyone will be truthful in their answer. Why even go there in the first place? As you gets to know a person, you can see their spending habits and how they treat life decisions, large or small, which is key. Of course, someone who is spending large amounts of money on the first few dates upfront is a potential red flag. If it comes out down the road that they do not have the best credit, then it becomes a screaming red flag. You also get to know important factors about their history that might factor into such a number – such as being divorced, having undergone a major layoff or career change, having had a foreclosure, etc. A credit score, by itself, is not the sole determinant of one having responsible financial habits.

    • GirlSixx

      Okayyyyy..

      Just because someone has a good credit score does not mean he or she is exercising financial responsibilty, all that means is you pay your bills ON TIME.

      So if you were to buy a Porsche knowing damn well Kinko's ain't cutting you checks like that but you get approved for the loan based on your credit score — how does that make you financially responsible??

      • Cookie

        LOL, that, is true. Financial responsibility is more than just a credit score, and some people aren't honest about who they are or what their intentions are in general, so they surely aren't going to be honest about their financial situation. Sometimes you won't find out about their situation until you get into a relationship with them. And as many here have noted,there are so factors that can ruin a good credit score: divorce, job loss, foreclosure, student loans, long-term illness, etc. All you can do is make sure you start saving money and be as responsible as you can with your credit….

      • SimplySaki

        Well, it doesn't. However, having a good credit score does not necessarily mean that you've ever paid anything on time – it can mean that you haven't done anything to "mess it up" yet. I remember getting to college, and being bombarded by tons of free gifts from reps who were asking you to apply for credit cards. It's likely that you haven't done anything at the age of 18 to show that you have great credit and are financially responsible. I also remember the reps "encouraging" students to count the amounts of their student loans as real income to have a better chance of qualifying for approval. And many were approved – some to their detriment.

      • SimplySaki

        Oh yes, and let me provide a 2nd angle for you. I used to be in the mortgage industry as a part of the credit approval process for loans. There were many mortgages given solely on the strength of a FICO score and little else – stated income loans or what came to be called "liar loans." At that point in time: a great FICO score combined with a less than discretionary lender / mortgage broker equaled mortgage approval. However, if a lender was responsible, the lender would validate that the stated income shown on the loan application was "reasonable" for the listed ways that the applicant stated they received their income. A person could inflate their income, their position (if they were slick enough), etc, and still get approved for the mortgage with their FICO score. Overstating one's income, constantly borrowing against one's home as if it were an ATM, with bets that the property value will continue to increase is not responsible from a big picture point of view. But quite a few people with great FICOs at that time requested and were approved for said loans taking this risk…and ended up defaulting down the road after real estate values dropped during the housing crisis.

  • http://glippost.wordpress.com Darrk Gable

    For the first date, that question is way out of line. HOWEVER…I can respect the thinking for wanting to ask it. Bad credit can can a result of many factors. It can also be an indicator of certain habits. People can get upset about such an intrusive inquiry, but aside from meical bills, divorce, or unemployment, there's a certain responsibility factor that comes into play when discussing credit scores. Again, for the first date, asking is really a no go. But if two poeple are still dating a month later, it's only logical to bring it up.
    My recent post When God Talks, You Better Listen

  • Peter Parker

    Yeah for a first date, naw not a good question to ask, but it appears that the guy in this article is probably over the age of 30 and if you looking for a wife, hey it may not be that inappropriate. I think the key is, if you do have a bad credit score, what are you doing to repair it. A bad credit score at my age would not be a deal breaker, but if you are not trying to repair it then that's a problem. A brother likes nice things and from the married friends I have, when the finances are in order, they are usually more happier. I think having a good credit score over the age of 30 is just a good sign of responsibility in my view point, but everybody's situation is different so that's when you have to make the decision on whether or not it's worth it.

  • http://www.lcsflyers.com Anthony Brian Logan

    if you want to know my credit score, i know where your mind is at. a gold digging pig.

  • oh ok…

    Im just gonna say…w/out reading any comments…
    I think its completely inappropriate to ask for a persons credit score in the FIRST MONTHS of dating..let alone the first date. Instead just pay attention to him/her. Do they have a job, car, apartment? How they spend their money. How they discuss money…etc,etc,etc.
    Me and my guy just had this discussion…and realized that we BOTH have to work towards having better credit. Its just reality. If he/she is worth it then work it out :)

  • AfterMath

    I'd say with this one that early on I'd rather get more of an idea by how she prioritizes her spending. If she can't afford to pay her bills but is buying new Gucci or some other expensive name brand shoes, then clearly she's got a problem. Sometimes its more subtle though and in those cases there's probably a story behind it and its generally better to wait and have that conversation later on (if all else goes well).
    My recent post Learn About “the Other” Algebra

  • Jefferson

    Try out Lexington Law if you're looking to fix your credit. Having bad credit can hurt you in so many ways. You can have a hard time finding work, a place to live, or getting a car loan. Lexington has been known tobe extremely effective and efficient.

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