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'She came from a family that didn't really discuss money': How this financial coach helped his wife build credit

Certified financial education instructor Wilson Muscadin explains how his early education about money led him to helping his wife learn about credit.

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Photo courtesy of Wilson Muscadin, The Money Speakeasy
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Before Wilson Muscadin and his wife got married, they shared discussions about their finances.

Muscadin knew that talking with your partner about how you each manage money is an important step in a relationship, and financial experts would generally agree with him.

But when Muscadin brought up the subject of money, it turned out that he was more comfortable talking about finances than his better half was.

"She came from a family that didn't really discuss money, which was different from the experience that I had in my family growing up," Muscadin, financial coach, founder at The Money Speakeasy and a certified financial education instructor, tells CNBC Select.

Below, we hear from Muscadin on his upbringing and how learning about credit cards early helped him and his wife become a stronger team.

Muscadin learned about credit at a young age

It's never too early to start teaching your child about credit and money.

In fact, behavioral researchers at University of Cambridge suggested in a 2013 study that kids begin their learning as young as age three.

For Muscadin, who is now 38 years old, this was something he remembers from his childhood. His dad taught him about money in creative ways. Muscadin actively learned how to save to achieve certain goals.

"It sounds nerdy, but my father had me read and write book reports (including personal finance books) growing up for my allowance," Muscadin says. He remembers receiving his first credit card when he was 20 years old.

"We talked about money regularly, and I remember him taking me to the bank when he made deposits, showing me receipts and explaining what he was saving for and why."

How Muscadin helped his wife build credit

When Muscadin saw that his wife had an average credit score, he learned that the primary reason was because she had only a few credit lines. "She never owned a credit card," he says. Having access to revolving debt, even if you don't use it often, is a key factor in building a high credit score. And it was essential for the financial goals that Muscadin and his wife shared.

"We discussed how it was important for both of us to have solid credit, particularly when it came to joint purchases like a home," he says. 

Below are the steps Muscadin took to help his wife build her credit.

  1. He added her as an authorized user: Muscadin added his wife as an authorized user on a credit card of his that had a high credit limit and a zero balance. Because this card showed a healthy utilization rate, Muscadin's wife's credit score benefited from having it show up on her credit report.
  2. She applied for her own credit card: Once they saw her score noticeably increase from using Muscadin's credit card, his wife eventually applied for an individual credit card that she primarily used to charge travel expenses for work, which her company would reimburse her for. This way, she was able to earn any benefits of using the card while also making sure that it was paid off.
  3. They both increased their credit limits: By listing their joint annual income, both Muscadin and his wife applied for and asked their issuers for a credit limit increase on their individual cards. The higher credit limit increased their amount of unused credit, which in turn reduced their credit utilization rates. This helped both their credit scores.

Even though Muscadin and his wife don't use credit often today, these actions helped the two of them maintain solid credit scores and save money on future joint purchases as a couple.

Credit cards to help you build credit

If you are someone who, like Muscadin's wife, is learning about the importance of credit later in life, know that there are options for getting a credit card to help you build credit as the couple did above.

CNBC Select ranked the best credit cards for building credit and below is a roundup of our top picks:

Bottom line

With a few simple steps, the Muscadins now both benefit from having good credit, especially as they grow older together.

A good credit score isn't just helpful for qualifying for the best credit cards, but it can also help you get a good rate on a mortgage, a car loan or simply achieve your financial goals.

Learn how to build credit without a credit card.

Information about the Capital One® Secured, Capital One® Platinum Credit Card and Deserve Digital First Card™ has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Petal 2 Visa Credit Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.