Are Americans illiterate when it comes to credit, credit scoring, and finances?
And if so, how much is it costing us?
Let’s start with that second question, which is easy to answer.
According to Marketwatch, the lack of financial literacy by the average American has cost us a collective $200 billion over the last 20 years! That’s the estimated cost of paying higher interest rates, late fees, not saving for retirement, and the impact of bad decisions caused by living paycheck-to-paycheck.
That comes to $20 billion each year from our lack of financial knowledge – including illiteracy when it comes to credit!
Likewise, The National Financial Educators Council just released a survey that found the average respondent lost $9,724 each year due to their credit and money illiteracy! That backs up the findings of another national study that found that with a mere 20-point increase to our average national credit score, each adult in the U.S. would save almost $5,000 each year!
Now, let’s try to answer the first question we posed, are we just as financial illiterate when it comes to credit scores – or credit illiterate?
On first glance, we might not think so. In fact, the average FICO score reached 700 for the first time ever in 2017, which is a very good score.
But there’s a lot more to the story.
Only 58 percent of Americans have a credit score above that golden 700 number.
And consider that 60 percent of American adults haven’t checked their credit report in the last 12 months, and 66 percent haven’t checked their credit score. That’s about 2/3 of all Americans that don’t even know what’s going on with their credit!
Only 32 percent have received a copy of their free credit report over the last year, and nearly one-in-five Americans haven’t pulled their credit in the last three years!
What’s even scarier is that about 1/3 of all American adults surveyed said that they really didn’t see any reason to pull their credit report or check their score.
Additionally, 56 percent of respondents confessed that they had no idea their credit score was the most important factor when applying for new debt like a mortgage, car loan, or credit card.
And while our national average may be healthy, there’s a wide discrepancy between credit score haves and have-nots.
According to Experian, almost 1/3 of all Americans (30%) have a credit score lower than 601 – which is considered sub-prime. VantageScore also estimates that of the 220 million U.S. adults, 68 million of them have poor or bad scores.
But this isn’t just a snapshot of the good and bad when it comes to credit because we have to factor in those who are credit invisible, too.
Studies have found that about 26 million U.S. adults are credit invisible. While this means that they don’t even have enough of a credit history to garner a score, it’s effectively the same thing as having terrible credit.
Many people are also denied credit even though they want more of it. A reported 67 percent of people who applied for new credit cards in 2015 were denied, and one out of three were approved but for a lower available balance than they’d requested!
Younger adults are really scoring an F when it comes to credit score literacy.
An alarming 68 percent of Americans make at least one significant and costly financial mistake before they even hit the age of 30! These mistakes often cost them dearly as they’re trying to start down the right financial path, and credit score blemishes make take seven to ten years to fall of their reports.
But that doesn’t stop young people from getting credit, as 50 percent of respondents said that they received their first credit score by the age of 21, even though 72 percent had no financial education at all before going to college!
Millennials and Gen Xers are also taking out more debt than ever thanks to student loans, not credit cards. In fact, student loan balances are at an all-time high, with the average student loan balance at $23,186. Our national student loan balance is now $875 billion – higher even than credit cards – and increasing at a rate of $2,853.88 every second!
But it’s not just younger people that are fumbling when it comes to debt, especially credit cards. Seventy-seven percent of us have a credit card, and the average U.S. adult with credit card debt owes $16,048. With a sizable average interest rate of 13.66%, that means $183 is accumulated in interest every month.
One in three carry a balance month-to-month without paying it off, often paying just the minimum payment.
Even worse, nearly 16 percent of people with a credit card balance don’t even know their card’s APR, or true interest rate, and that’s even more prevalent (21 percent) among lower-income households.
So if we’re so credit illiterate, what’s the solution?
It seems the simple fix is just to start teaching financial education in schools. In fact, 99% of adults surveyed thought it would be a good idea to teach about credit, debt, interest rates, personal finance, and credit in high schools or even earlier.
However, the plan runs into a snag when you consider that only 1 in 5 teachers feels qualified to teach a class on financial or credit education!
Until they start making the grade, the better solution is to contact Nationwide Credit Clearing for a free copy of your credit report, a complimentary consultation, and the #1 credit repair firm in the country!
What do couples fight about? Money, finances, and even credit lead the list – but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Likewise, people in longterm relationships or even just dating often have ups and downs, bumps in the road, and even fights.
But did you know that the number one cause of arguments and disagreements among couples?
You might be surprised that it has more to do with spending, savings, and even use of credit than more romantic concerns.
According to research, here are the top 5 things couples fight about:
2. Division of domestic responsibilities
5. Power dynamics
It turns out that the number one cause of relationship disagreements, squabbles, and wars of the roses is money.
What specific money issues count as a relationship red flag?
Here are the most common financial issues or topics we couples fight about:
• The cost of raising children
• Taking care of aging parents or family
• One person makes more than the other
• Risk tolerance
• Financial objectives
• Personalities and values
• Power dynamics in the relationship
• Previous debt or debt accrued during the relationship
So why is money such a hot button issue, to the point that it breaks up so many seemingly happy relationships?
For most people, money is one of the most stressful and emotional problems. In fact, data from the American Psychological Association reveals that money is the leading cause of stress for Americans today.
Our attitudes, background, and values about work, money, security, and retirement are passed down from our parents starting at an early age, and so they are deeply ingrained, right or wrong.
In fact, many people won’t jump into marriage – or even start dating someone – if they don’t feel they are financially compatible. A recent national survey found that 57% of men and 75% of women say that the other person’s credit score factors into their decision to date them or not. And about 30% of women and 20% of men say they won’t marry a person with a low credit score!
The truth is that arguments over money compound, more than any other reason, except perhaps infidelity, and this type of fight is the most likely signal that the relationship is ending. In fact, studies have shown that fighting over money is a leading indicator of rocky relationship roads in the future. In fact, only substance abuse problems and cheating are bigger predictors of divorce than money issues!
These days, the average couple getting married has a 40-50% chance of getting divorced at some point. But couples with no significant assets at the time of their marriage are 70% more likely to get divorced than couples that are solid financially. In fact, if your income is at least the U.S. median (about $50,000), your risk of divorce is decreased by 30% (compared to those who make $25,000 or less).
It’s no wonder why money plays such a critical role in our relationships, as “financial infidelity” is also on the rise, a form of dishonesty when partners hide their financial dealings from their better half – or even lie about them.
However, if you feel that your spouse spends money irresponsibly, your likelihood of divorce is increased by 45%. Researchers also found that newly married couples who took on a lot of credit card debt became less happy over time. But newlyweds who cut back, saved, and paid off or stayed out of debt measured higher levels of happiness over their marriages.
But before you start second guessing your current relationship because you have disagreements about money from time to time, note that relationship experts and marriage counselors say almost all couples have these heated exchanges over dollars and cents.
“People should expect to fight about finances,” says Laurie Puhn, a New York City-based couples mediator. “It’s a part of any marriage and any long-term relationship. You will fight about finances.”
What’s a “normal” amount of fighting over finances? About 31% of all couples — even the ones that say they are very happy – have at least one fight over finances and money once a month or more.
Look for part two of this blog where we cover tips and tactics to help ensure that money doesn’t ruin your relationship!
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