Here’s How to Tell Your Love Your Credit Stinks

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When you find yourself staring down a mountain of debt, you probably want to just find a cave somewhere and hide. But if the way you’re managing your money has the potential to affect your spouse or significant other, it’s worth talking about it, lest you suffer the fallout of financial infidelity later on.

While everyone’s financial situation may differ, the tips outlined here can help you get started with having that tough conversation.

Know Why You Want to Talk 

Before you sit down with your loved one, “you have to think about why it is you want to discuss this,” said Amanda Clayman, a New York City-based financial therapist who works with people around all aspects of financial behavior and their relationship with money. Ask yourself, “Why is it that you want to come clean about this? Do you want emotional support? Do you need financial help?” Perhaps you feel like you’ve been misleading, or even dishonest, in the way that you held onto this information or disclosed other information in the past. Whatever it is, knowing your own motivations will help you structure the conversation around what needs to be said.

Do Your Homework  

“To prepare, you really need to be clear on the situation,” said Clayman. “You can’t disclose the truth without knowing what the truth is.” Do as much of your own homework as you can before your discussion by pulling your credit report and doing an overall assessment of your finances. (You can view two of your credit scores, updated monthly, on Credit.com.)

Know Your Audience

“It’s a different conversation to have with your parents versus a person with whom you already share finances,” said Clayman. In other words, try to anticipate what you need to disclose to this person in particular. Is the way that you’ve been using your credit card affecting your spouse’s ability to put away savings? If so, you’ll need to be more upfront. If your spending is so out of control that you need to move back home with your parents to pay off the debt, you’ll want to choose your words carefully when telling your parents.

Be Direct 

“The best thing to do is bring it up as its own conversation,” said Clayman. “You want to be direct and honest, and acknowledge why you haven’t talked about [this subject] in the past.” You’ll also want to address any concerns you have about how your loved one may react — and how you hope they’ll respond. Offering some context can be helpful, said Clayman, since being honest is a step toward taking responsibility and hopefully putting yourself on a path to addressing your own financial instability and creditworthiness.

Being upfront about these emotions will also help the other person be aware of their own reaction as they hear this, said Clayman. What’s more, it will give them a sense of why you may not have been so forthcoming up until now.

“It’s not saying that you can’t have your own reaction to it,” she said. “It’s a way of keeping the relational context intact as you talk about something that can be surprising to some people.” She added, “If you’re to say, ‘I’m sharing this, and the reason I didn’t share it [before] was because I was worried you’d see me in a certain way or be disappointed,’ that way the person can address or refute it.”

Give Yourself Space & Time 

When having a talk like this, it’s important to do what you can to make the situation feel less overwhelming, both to you and your loved one. You want to be able to say what needs to be said — and ensure that you have space to do it. “Try to do this at a time when you’re not going to be interrupted,” said Clayman. Also, make sure there’s adequate time. “This is going to be really emotional and a little unpredictable,” she said. “Neither of these things will be improved by having too little time or quiet.”

Focus on Your Loved One 

Discussing your financial woes is never easy, but focusing on your loved one can help you stay connected, even when you feel yourself getting worked up. “Even when people disagree or there’s a breach of trust, look for ways that you’re still connected in other aspects of your relationship,” Clayman says. Reminding yourself of those things will help you get through the worst of the problem — and remind you what you’re working toward.

Remember, disclosing your money woes and/or lousy credit isn’t a time to unburden yourself of your worries and guilt. It’s about finding a way to work through the problem together. Not taking this approach can be destructive, especially if you’re not prepared for your loved one’s “anger, bewilderment and so on,” Clayman says. So take the time to learn where you stand and plan the conversation accordingly. Things may just go more smoothly than you expected.

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The post Here’s How to Tell Your Love Your Credit Stinks appeared first on Credit.com.

4 Credit Tips to Keep in Mind as You Plan Your Wedding

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Summertime — the perfect time for a beautiful wedding! You’re pledging mutual love and affection to your partner, surrounded by friends and family. You’re looking forward to a lifetime of adventure and happiness together.

And while you’re thinking about your wedding and probably doing last-minute planning and fittings and all that great stuff, I’d like to talk to you about a topic that no one else is talking to you about …

I want to talk about credit.

Yes, I know that credit scores are the last thing on your mind right now. But consider this: You’ve probably heard it said that money can be one of the biggest sources of conflict in a marriage. Well, your credit is part of that topic.

Good credit can make reaching many financial goals much easier, whereas bad credit can make things more challenging because you are far more limited in your choices and some necessities, like buying a house and car, may be constrained.

And here’s the part that’s most shocking to some brides and grooms: The simple decisions you make right now for your wedding could impact your credit … and that can impact your marriage for better or for worse.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cut corners and go for a low-budget wedding. You might want it to be a perfect reflection of your joyous day. But here are some credit-related wedding tips to help you start your marriage on a good credit footing.

1. Avoid Lending Your Credit Card to Anyone

You might want your bridesmaids to run out and pick up more champagne, or you might want one of the groomsmen to get the limousine, but it’s not a good idea to lend your credit card out so they can do so. In fact, issuers generally consider this a violation of your card agreement, and that can leave you vulnerable when it comes to paying for any unauthorized charges that pop up while the card was out of your possession. The person you lend it to might be careful with it, but things happen beyond our control. (Plus, you might be ultra-busy and just forget to ask for your card back, or the person might think they gave it back to you but put it in someone else’s purse by mistake.) Your credit cards are a major part of your credit, so it’s a good idea to hold onto your card and be the only person who uses it.

2. Be Careful About Taking Out a Wedding Loan

Yes, I know you want an amazing wedding, but you will be paying off this personal loan at a time in your life when every dollar counts — and when every point on your credit score will determine how big of a mortgage you can get for your first house. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.)

3. Save Your Receipts

After your wedding and honeymoon, when everything has calmed down, go through every receipt and check it against your credit card bill. Maybe the caterer was supposed to charge $1,234, but accidentally inverted some numbers when entering the charge. You might have signed the invoice for the right amount but your credit card was charged $2,134 instead! (It happens.) If you’re not in the habit of checking your statements, you might accidentally pay the additional amount without realizing it or you might miss paying the higher amount — and that leftover debt could unwittingly hurt your credit.

4. Refrain From Charging the Rest of Your Registry to Your Credit Card

Instead, it’s a good idea to just live with what you have for a while. You might realize that you don’t need that 20-person fondue set that you thought you would use all the time, or the 24-place gold-embedded fine china that you envisioned serving Sunday dinners from. You may find that your life takes a different turn than you were expecting prior to your wedding.

Your wedding will be a wonderful memory that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. But if you’re not careful, it can also cause a lot of financial strain early on in your marriage. Fortunately, a few simple choices can help your marriage get a good start.

[Offer: Your credit score may be low due to credit errors. You can tackle your credit reports to improve your credit score with help from Lexington LawLearn more about them here or call them at (844) 346-3296 for a free consultation.]

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Image: ValaGrenier

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