You may think you know everything about your fiancé. But do you know their credit score? If the answer is “No,” you’re not the only one. According to a new survey conducted on behalf of credit-tracking company Experian, most newlyweds are in the dark when it comes to their spouse’s finances, CNBC reports.
Experian hired global strategic research and analytics business Edelman Intelligence to conduct an online survey of 1000 adults—49 percent men, 51 percent women—who got married in the past year and live in the U.S. (Quick note: The study wasn’t based on a probability sample, so no estimate of theoretical sampling error could be calculated, Experian said in a summary of its methodology.) The findings were manifold, but here are a few takeaways that might inspire you to have a frank talk about money with your significant other before walking down the aisle.
According to one 2015 survey by online loan marketplace Lending Tree, nearly 60 percent of Americans don’t know their own credit score. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise then, that Experian found that 40 percent of their own survey’s respondents were clueless about their spouse’s credit score.
Similarly, Experian’s survey noted that one-third of respondents didn’t know the amount of their spouse’s student loan debt. (Is it any wonder that a recent report found that households thought their total student loans added up to about 25 percent less than what really showed up on their credit reports?)
Spending habits—and spending transparency—was also an issue. One-third of respondents admitted their spouse’s spending habits were “different” than expected. Meanwhile, men typically said that they would only mention a big splurge to their partners if it averaged around $1259. (Women typically spend an average of $383 before mentioning it to their spouse.) And perhaps most shockingly, 16 percent of the newlyweds—about 60 percent of them men—said they had a secret bank account.
The most embarrassing finding? One-fourth of survey respondents didn’t even know their partner’s annual income. Meanwhile, other surveys suggest this number might be even larger: A 2015 survey by Fidelity Mutual asked 1051 couples whether or not they knew each other’s earnings. More than 40 percent of them did not, and one in 10 was off by $25,000.
Married couples end up paying the price for their financial ignorance. About a third of participants said their partner’s credit score impeded their ability to get a home loan, and 19 percent of them required a cosigner after getting married—about a third due to poor credit, Bloomberg reports.
Some people find it scary to talk about money, especially with the person they love. That’s why Indianapolis-based financial planner Meredith Carbrey told CNBC that she recommends new couples meet with a financial planner or another professional that deals with money. "That can be a good moment to find out about assets and liabilities, and whether they have too much debt," she said. Plus, by discovering each other’s financial weaknesses, you’ll hopefully find a way to combine your strengths—and for that matter, your cash.