[Bella’s intro: Rajiv told me this story by email and I asked him if I could share it here. Thanks, Rajiv, for agreeing. ]

 Guest Post by Rajiv Garg

 I was having lunch the other day at a restaurant in LA and sitting about three feet away were three women (single, from what I can tell) and even though I was not eavesdropping, I could hear their conversation. They were talking about taxes and deductions and if they could take a deduction for their visit to the hair salon and pet care as job hunting expenses. (I was slightly amused.)  Soon thereafter one of the ladies said  – “Well, you know as ‘singles’ we end up paying more taxes and cannot take a lot of the deductions that married people can”, this piqued my interest and I could not help intently waiting for more on this subject…

The conversation meandered for a couple of minutes and landed at buying a house and credit scores. After a brief pause, one of the ladies commented – “Now that‘s what scares me about getting married – your credit scores are tied together.”

I was taken aback a little and had mixed feelings about this statement (besides the urge to laugh).  My first thought was – of all the inequalities surrounding marriage (they just talked about the tax inequality issue) this is the one she picked the potential unfavorable credit scores as a major roadblock to getting married.

Then, I realized that she picked this since it directly affects her financial well- being and that, of course, was her prime concern. Interestingly, she did not see anything wrong with collecting the (other financial) benefits of marriage but as soon as there is a presumed ‘penalty’ associated with it, that was not acceptable.

I suppose she was already anticipating her choice in men to be inferior and their finances deteriorating after marriage or was this just fear? Perhaps both.

She was not willing to take any chances (at least financially) where there was even a slight chance of monetary penalty on account of her partner.  I don’t blame her for being cautious but as a believer in ‘Singlism’ I was disappointed to find out that there is yet another factor where marital status determines and influences the choices we make.  Everybody wants and should have financial security and your ‘relationship status’ should not alter your financial situation, especially when such benefits are granted and penalties are imposed by the government.

I think this further supports my guess that when financial security is threatened, women begin to question the validity of the institution of marriage.  I wonder what men in her future would think of her objection (if she ever brings it up). I see a FICO score power duel in the works.

I was not sure if her statement was true regarding the credit scores, so I looked it up (see excerpt below). The credit scores remain separate (after marriage) except in case of major purchases (house, car, etc.) where the lender looks at the ‘lower of the two’ scores. So in the context of buying a house she was correct.

More education and exposure can perhaps change this line of thinking. In these hard financial times it is even more important to understand the financial implications of marriage. Perhaps it is time for an aggressive campaign showing the various financial inequalities (benefits and penalties) based on marital status.

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FICO Considerations for Married Couples:

Though both spouses maintain their own separate FICO scores, the spending and borrowing habits of one spouse can certainly affect the other in both direct and indirect ways. For starters, any major purchase that’s made in both names, such as a house or car, can be serviced by the lender at the lower of the two credit scores, meaning higher interest rates and potentially being turned down for the loan altogether. The credit score used to determine the terms of a mortgage will be lower than the higher score between the two. Spouses also tend to have joint credit or bank accounts, and delinquent payments or overdraft fees in these accounts will reflect in the individual FICO scores of both spouses.

Source – ehow.com

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Bio

From Rajiv Garg: I have worked in the technology industry in various technical and management roles. Discrimination based on relationship status is legal and thriving and affects millions of people. I believe that this very important cause is under-represented and needs urgent attention. I am excited about generating awareness and ensuring that individuals are valued and respected for their contributions to the society irrespective of their relationship status.

I also volunteer for organizations addressing overpopulation and environmental issues. I live in Southern California and enjoy reading, arts, music, theatre, wine tasting, traveling, cooking, and of course a marriage-free lifestyle!

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