NerdWallet: If you’re a stay-at-home spouse, here’s why you should build your credit

by | Dec 8, 2022 | Stock Market

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet.  Spouses share a lot, but no matter your relationship status, your credit score belongs to you and you alone. Even if you’re 100% supported financially by your spouse or partner, establishing and building your own credit score is essential.

It can benefit you both as you navigate financial decisions together. But should you divorce or your spouse die, having good or excellent credit can help you as you begin to make financial decisions on your own. Besides, maintaining some money independence can keep you both on equal footing in your relationship. “A household’s financial dependence on one income earner can foster unhealthy relationship control dynamics,” said Katherine Fox, a certified financial planner, founder and advisor at Sunnybranch Wealth in Portland, Oregon, in an email. “Stay-at-home spouses who take steps to protect their credit score and financial literacy are doing their part to maintain a healthy money attitude and dynamic within their relationship.” Related: Here’s a great way to jump-start your creditWhy your credit score is equally important Any time you and your spouse apply for a joint loan, like a mortgage, both of your credit scores get evaluated by the lender. Lenders may use the person’s score that falls on the lower end to determine your eligibility. Ideally, even the lowest score between you both is still in good shape because this can affect what loan terms, like interest rates, you’d qualify for together. A lower credit score can make borrowing money more expensive. Your credit score also comes into play when you apply for a credit card in your own name, which you can do even if you don’t earn an income. So long as you’re 21 or older, you can include your spouse’s income on the card application. Moreover, unexpectedly becoming single again is the most difficult reason nonworking spouses need to build their credit. “Having a solid foundation will help you if you end up alone and need capital to get started,” says Brittany Davis, a Memphis, Tennessee-based accredited financial counselor who is an associate financial plann …

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