Newlyweds: Keep Credit Positive After Combining Finances

Guest Post By Maggie Ziegler.

So you just got married? Congratulations!

It’s an exciting time as you combine your lives in just about every area, from your bank accounts to your decorating choices. If you don’t already, you’re going to get to know your partner’s habits and preferences pretty quickly. Hopefully you’ll be in sync when it comes to the big decisions, especially your finances. Studies have shown that financial disputes are the primary cause of conflict in about 39 percent of cases.

Marriage joins the financial lives of both partners, and you’ll both become responsible for the debts either of you incur. The good news is that married people tend to earn more money than single people. It is believed that married people are more monetarily balanced because they see themselves as part of a financial partnership or team, and this motivates them to do better financially. In short, a healthy marriage can help to promote financial success.

That said, any couple can make mistakes, especially in the first years of marriage. Here are some of the most common financial mistakes made by newlyweds that can affect credit rating.

Missing a Rent or Mortgage Payment

Skipping rent or mortgage payments or paying them late could result in you be reported to the credit bureaus. Pay on time, or your credit score will take a hit.

Failure to Pay Medical Bills

If you’re having trouble making medical bill payments, call the creditor and negotiate a reduced amount or a payment plan.

Back Taxes

Unpaid back taxes can result in the government placing a lien against you. A tax lien will appear on your credit report and drag down your score, and it could remain on your report for up to 15 years.

Missed Utility Payments

Like medical bills or housing payments, if you habitually pay late or miss payments, you’ll be reported for delinquency to the credit bureaus. Make sure you close accounts from your past residences so that you aren’t held responsible for others’ usage. A LifeLock credit monitoring account can help you to avoid errors or fraud on your credit report.

Credit Inquiries

Credit inquiries can be “hard” or “soft.” Soft inquiries have no impact on your credit rating, but hard ones can if you have multiple inquiries in a short period of time. When you sign up for new services like a bank account, cell phone, cable or satellite TV, be sure to ask that they do a soft credit inquiry.

Traffic Tickets

Unpaid parking or speeding tickets can cause your credit score to suffer. Not only will penalties be added; your debts could be reported to the credit bureaus.

Close Unused Credit Accounts

If you’re not planning to use a credit card or other account, its best to close the account rather than let it sit idle as an open account on your credit report. Be sure to properly end memberships as well, such as gym or music club memberships. Closing the account gives you the assurance that your financial responsibility has been handled in full, according to MSN Money.

Knowledge is power, and if you’re aware of potential pitfalls that could affect your credit, you’ll be more equipped to avoid them. Starting married life is an exciting time, and if you can both get on the same page with your finances early in the game, your odds of a happy and prosperous marriage are even higher.