When we think of bad credit, many of us think about the ways that bad credit can harm our chances at getting a loan. Bad credit can lead to higher interest rates, which can cost more money in the long run. Part of borrowing smart is making sure that you have good credit so that you pay the lowest possible interest charges. [See: 3 Surprising Ways Your Credit Score Could be Costing You]
However, paying more money for your loan is not the only way that bad credit can hurt you. Poor credit can harm you in other ways — including causing you problems in your personal life.
In many cases part of the reason consumers have bad credit is due to their high levels of debt. Your credit score suffers when you have high credit utilization. If your credit cards are maxed out, it can weigh on your credit score.
The poor credit score isn’t your only problem. When you have that much debt, it places emotional stress on you. This emotional stress can affect your mental and physical health at home. Emotional stress can cause anxiety and depression, and lead to difficulty in your personal life.
When you are stressed about money, as evidenced by your bad credit, it becomes difficult to effectively manage your emotional state — much less enjoy financial security.
Your bad credit can also prompt relationship problems. Money problems can lead to fights about money, and place strain on relationships. Disagreements about how to tackle the bad credit situation, and the bad debt situation, can lead to difficulty in your romantic relationship.
However, bad credit can also affect other relationships as well. Your stress and anxiety regarding money can lead to you having less patience with your children, and with other people in your life. You might be embarrassed to participate in activities with others, or afraid that they will learn about your credit problems. If this is the case, it can cause strain in your other relationships, and lead to problems relating. [See: 7 Tips for Fighting Fairly About Money]
Trouble Finding Housing
Another difficulty that can come from poor credit is difficulty finding housing. If you rent, some landlords will check your credit before approving you. This can mean that you don’t qualify to live in the apartment or house that you are interested in.
In some cases, you might be required to pay a larger security deposit, or pay first and last month’s rent — even if someone else who doesn’t have bad credit wouldn’t have to pay such a large amount of money up front.
Having bad credit can limit your opotions and result in you not being able to live where you want. If you can’t afford the larger security deposit, or if you are denied altogether, you might be forced to live somewhere you don’t want to. This can be a disappointing state of affairs — especially if the results mean that you are farther from amenities you are looking for or if your children won’t be in your preferred school district.
Passed Over for a Job
More on Credit Scores
No, an employer isn’t supposed to look at your credit score when making a decision about whether or not to hire you. However, an employer can look at your credit report; at least a version of your credit report is available for employer perusal.
If you have poor credit, and you are applying for a job where you might have access to proprietary information or if you are going to be working in security, an employer might worry that you are vulnerable to bribery or other issues. While you will have to give your permission for a potential employer to check your credit, withholding that permission might indicate that you do have something to hide.
With more and more employers using credit checks as part of the overall background check, having poor credit could hurt your long-term career prospects.
Your credit doesn’t just affect your loan situation. Your personal life can be affected by poor credit, and it can also have far-reaching effects on your finances and life beyond just what happens with your debt. As a result, it’s vital that you work to improve your credit score.
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.