Money is a leading cause of divorce — but Suze Orman says a major 'red flag' early on could help you avoid financial disaster
- Financial problems are one of the main reasons couples seek marriage counselling, and it's a leading cause of divorce.
- In a recent podcast, Suze Orman said there's one major financial red flag to look out for before marrying someone - a bad credit credit score.
- Your partner's bad credit can affect several areas of your life, and you may be expected to help bear their financial mess in the event of a divorce.
With money a common cause of divorce and one of the main reasons couples seek marriage counselling, finances should be high priority on the list of conversations to have with your partner before getting married.
But there's one financial red flag women should watch out for in particular, according to bestselling personal finance author Suze Orman: Your partner's credit history.
"Before you ever say I do, you better know your spouse...their FICO score, their credit reports, you better be looking at their financial habits," Orman said on a recent "So Money" podcast with journalist Farnoosh Torabi and editor-in-chief of Money magazine Adam Auriemma.
While there are plenty of financial red flags that are easy to miss early on in the lust stage of a relationship - like tipping big, always buying shoes, or going to the racetrack often - the biggest indication of their financial situation comes when sitting down and showing each other your credit reports, Orman said.
"If somebody has a bad FICO score, credit score, and a lot of late payments, I would get rid of that person so fast ... unless there was a good reason why," Orman said. "They got sick, they were in an accident, they didn't have any insurance ... [they had a] second divorce, they were taken, but they better be willing to tell you about it, and you shouldn't even have to ask them about it.
"They should be telling you, 'Sweetheart, I just want to tell you right now I'm a total financial mess. Here's the reason why,'" she said. "If they don't have a good reason why, [it's] because their mess very shortly is going to become your mess. I guarantee you, financial abuse will start to happen and there will go the relationship."
Orman isn't alone in her train of thought - a Bankrate survey found that nearly four in 10 adults said knowing someone's credit score affects their willingness to date a person, Business Insider previously reported.
Having bad credit can affect several areas of your life, such as raising the price of your bills and preventing you from getting a bond on the home you want.
Things can get even messier in the event of a divorce if there's debt looming. Leanna Johannes, senior wealth strategist at PNC Wealth Management, previously told Business Insider that if one partner has a high balance on their credit cards, you could find yourself responsible for debts you didn't know existed. You may even be expected to help shoulder the debt load if your partner has credit card or other instalment types of debt.
But Pam Friedman, certified financial planner and author of "I Now Pronounce You Financially Fit: How to Protect Your Money in Marriage and Divorce," told Bankrate couples shouldn't put too much emphasis on a credit score. "Knowing someone's score is important, but it's much more important to know someone's attitudes toward money," she said.
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