How to Tell if You’re Financially Sexy

It’s no secret that everyone here knows budgeting and proper money management is sexy. As I stated in the creation of this blog over 6 awesome years ago, the calculation doesn’t lie:

Budgeting = Confidence = Sexy

While proven to be correct, however, it’s been brought to my attention that there’s more to being “financially sexy” than just your management skills. According to my dear friend Shannon from Financially Blonde, there’s even a whole set of measurements that must be met in order to be crowned sexy! Here’s what led her to come to this conclusion:

“I think it is more difficult to determine financial sexiness [than physical sexiness], and it is certainly not apparent just by looking at someone… When I was younger, I would have said that a financially sexy person was someone who had a salary of at least six figures, a million dollar home and a nice car. As I have witnessed, though, these things may make someone appealing on the outside, but it actually does not necessarily mean that they are financially sexy. In fact, from my experience, they are probably the opposite.”

It’s hard to disregard that :) And considering she’s a financial planner you KNOW she has to be right. But what *are* these elusive measurements of the new sexy standard? She calls them the 750-35-15-35 rule, similar to the Commodores’ 36-24-36 ranking of physically attractive women ;)

The 750-35-15-35 “Sexy” Rule

  1. You must have a credit score of 750 or higher
  2. You should be saving at least 15% of your gross income
  3. Your “credit card utilization” should be 35% or lower
  4. You must have a very healthy emergency fund
  5. And your “debt to income” ratio must be 35% or less. Not to be confused with your credit card utilization number, I guess?

Sounds pretty sexy to me! But to make sure this is TRULY accurate, one would have to test it out to be certain. And that someone would have to be a respectable citizen of the Sexiness Clan to make sure the numbers are calibrated correctly. So after much deliberation and soul searching, I’ve taken it upon myself to act on behalf of sexy money lovers everywhere ;) You’re welcome.

Proving (?) The 5 Measurements of Financial Sexiness

Here we go! Let’s see how right this Shannon character is! And how much this affects the entire future of the financially sexy race!

  1. You must have a credit score of 750 or higher.

Okay, you probably didn’t notice me leaving for 25 minutes, but I had to sheepishly hit up to pull my credit reports for the first time in 3 years (bad finance blogger!).  That place only gives you access to your yearly *reports* though (and it’s truly free and watched/run? by the gov’t so it’s not scammy!!), so I then had to pony up the $7.95 to get my actual *score*. Which is what I was really after here anyways, so figured I’d do the whole shebang in one sitting to be good for another year+ ;) Perhaps you should copy me and do the same real quick?

[Side note – I did run my score for free through Credit Sesame a ways back too, but I’ve been told “it’s not the same thing.” So I picked up the “real” one this time to avoid any debate. And I’m glad I did :)]

j money credit score

My new shiny score? A staggering 828! Out of a max of 850 – WOOHOO! The highest it’s *ever* been since checking it over the past 10 years, I’m pretty happy about that :) The last time I pulled it was in a battle w/ my wife in March of 2011, at which point it clocked in at 791. So we’ve gone up 30 pts in 3 years, not bad at all… And if I were smart/had plenty of time, I’d go through the reports w/ a comb and fix any errors or re-visit any of my accounts just to make sure all is on track 100% and we’re not missing any more increases that are possibly sitting there too. PASS with flying colors… (Another interesting thing I learned? My credit history spans 17 Years and 2 Months!)

  1. You should be saving at least 15% of your gross income

Okay, let’s see here… My overall gross income after doing 2013 taxes came out to be roughly $106,000. So 15% of that would be $15,900. I’ll be maxing out both my SEP IRA and my Roth IRA this month for a total of $21,500, making our yearly contribution come out to around 20% – PASS AGAIN! Though, sadly it’s a lot lower than the 30%-40% we used to save back in the day, dang babies

  1. Your “credit card utilization” should be 35% or lower

This will be the easiest one to calculate: 0% :) We have $55,000 in total credit limit between two cards, but we pay it off in full every month so there’s never any $$$ on it except temporarily (so I guess if you count that, it would be around 0-5% depending on when checked?). PASS #3

  1. You must have a very healthy emergency fund

Our emergency fund is currently hovering around the $65,000 range, going down to $55,000’ish in a few once the IRAs are maxed. I think that should qualify as healthy – if not UNhealthy! ;) PASS.

  1. And your “debt to income” ratio must be 35% or less.

Not to be confused with your credit card utilization rate, this one calculates as “the amount of debt that you owe in a monthly payment versus how much income you make” according to Shannon. And, well, everywhere else too :) The last time I calculated this was back in January of 2013 where we clocked in at a cool 19% – not bad at all.

Lately, however, I’m not too sure how you run it? If you keep things technically correct here, our rate actually goes WAYYYY down to a miniscule 3% since our mortgaged house is now being rented out and thus kills our one and only debt on the books (because the renters pay it, not us). If we didn’t take a loss on it every month, it would even be lower at 0% too! If, however you included that into the DTI, the table turns and our rate would then be a whopping 50% or around there – not good at ALL. So I guess this one is a PASS or FAIL depending on how you look at it?

The results…

As you can see, this upstanding citizen has passed with (mostly?) flying colors, meaning Shannon’s 5 measurements of sexiness gets the official seal of approval. Way to go, Shannon! And thanks for getting me to run my yearly report/score today too!

Your guys’ turn. How do you rate on the 750-35-15-35 scale? Are you officially dubbed sexy as well? Take the test and let us know – it’ll be the best used 10 minutes of your time all day – I promise :)

Now who’s going to go update The Commodores?

[Sexy photo of Katy Perry by samborowski / Doodled on by J$]

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  1. Dee @ Color Me Frugal April 7, 2014 at 6:14 AM

    I just ran our numbers are we are pretty sexy on everything except #2! Right now we are only saving about 7% of our income, but we are currently in student loan debt paydown mode so that’s where all of our extra cash is going at the moment. The last time I checked my credit score it was in the low 800s, woot woot!!

    1. J. Money April 7, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      That works! I’m sure by adding in your debt payments it would be like saving 15% anyways – and one day when they’re all gone you’ll have SO MUCH MORE to save!! So keep going!

  2. Shannon @ Financially Blonde April 7, 2014 at 7:23 AM

    An 828 credit score?!?!?!? Wow!! That’s like the Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie of credit scores!! Super sexy!! Congrats! But I am not overly surprised because someone who thinks budgets are sexy is on the path to overall financial sexiness. And I would give you a pass on the rental house since the income is mostly balancing the debt you pay. :-) Seriously, if I met you as a client, I would be really impressed (and I don’t impress easily). :-) Thanks for mentioning my post and checking your credit score!

    1. J. Money April 7, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      HAH! Thanks! I was pretty surprised by the credit score result too. Now if only I can impress myself on my cash flow!

  3. Catina Mount April 7, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    Wow! Your credit score is insane! I and going to work on my #’s tonight but have a feeling I am lacking some major sexiness, which would explain why I am here. :-)
    That should, be #6: Must hang out at Budgets Are Sexy 5 days per week
    = MAD Sexy

  4. maria@moneyprinciple April 7, 2014 at 7:57 AM

    Oh, baby! I am too sexy for my shoes according to this measures.And I love it; I love Shannon as well :).

  5. John @ Sprout Wealth April 7, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    I remember running this when she ran the post originally and proud to say that I’m sexy! Never thought I’d be saying that on a Monday morning, but who cares…;) The only one that really isn’t a constant for us is #5 since our income fluctuates quite a bit, but going off of our worst month last year we came in just under 20% and best a little under 10% – I’m pretty happy to be at those percentages.

    1. J. Money April 7, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      For sure – wild income can def. change the game every month but it seems like you’re pretty much fine either way – good or “bad!” This is the first time in my life where cash flow has started getting in the negatives, and it feels weird, haha… So I guess you can be financially sexy but still be losing cash every month according to this scale ;) Though it’s only temporary…

  6. Lucas April 7, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    For some reason it thinks i am trying to spam you today. Well trying to reword my post a bit here to get it though the filter.

    1. Lucas April 7, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      *Man i can’t get my comments through the filter today. I don’t think it likes some key works around plastic things you use in place of money, or statements of attractiveness ;-) *

      Honestly I think hitting those numbers just ensures that you aren’t financially ugly. Given that most people are missing one or more of those, they are not bad starting goals, but they are far from sexy in my mind (although maybe i am just biased ;-) ). My thoughts on each point:

      1) C score is really meaningless for someone who is really financially S__y. Not being late in payments guarantees a decent score. I don’t necessarily have a problem with utilization % but if you manage to pay for everything with cash and not need a CC or loans for cars or house then guess what – you have a terrible credit score because you don’t follow the pattern they know how to rate.

      2) this is pretty week for being S__y. 50% is much better mark of S__iness (principal paydowns can get included in the savings). saving based on income directly also doesn’t scale well to higher incomes as the % of tax hit is huge. I like savings rate post tax as a tracking number better. .

      3) If you aren’t paying off your CCs every month you immediately get demoted out of being sexy. but if you only have one small limit credit card that you can pay off each month you could hit >35% utilization just with monthly balances. this really only plays into C score though.

      4) You must have a very healthy emergency fund – If you are really s__y you have enough investments that you don’t need an emergency fund (which you only really need during consumer debt pay off). High cash flow (ie high savings rate) removes a lot of the necessity for emergency funds for anything outside of job loss. Combining that with low expenses to combat job loss risk is what would be sexy to me. Having a decent accessible investment account is good, but parking it in a savings account earning 0.25% is not s__y.

      5) this only affects your ability to get more loans. I know really financially s_-y people who have higher then this due to leveraged rental properties. So i think “investment” debt needs to fall outside of this number. Personal debt should be 0% (except maybe if you are using home debt for investing elsewhere).

      1. J. Money April 7, 2014 at 11:03 AM

        Glad you tweaked this to get it through!! My filters usually ARE jacked when it comes to credit card talk, I’m really sorry about that it’s frustrating I know :( (It’ll even block my own comments sometimes!). Overall though I like the way you think with this. There are def. some loopholes here and we can all be even BETTER w/ our money depending on our goals and game plans. As you said, this is just a good start to make sure you’re at least heading in the right direction. And for most people this WOULD be the best case scenarios – unlike you fine readers who frequent this site ;)

      2. Zee April 8, 2014 at 1:58 AM

        I’ve always thought the same thing about #4. I don’t have an official emergency fund anywhere because I have enough investments where if a real emergency came up, I could just sell some of my holdings and slowly replenish them once the emergency was over. Savings accounts have never appealed to me, maybe I’ll get hit hard by some market crash and change my mind. Until that happens I totally agree with Lucas.

  7. Brian @ Debt Discipline April 7, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    I hope to be sexy by the end of this year. I’ll have to break the news to my wife :(

  8. Brit April 7, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    I will be sexy and soon!

  9. George April 7, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    I agree with Lucas in that I do not agree with a couple of the components of the scale. This is primary because I do not care what my credit score is. I do not use credit cards or take out loans for anything. I have a healthy ER fund and simply won’t purchase anything I cannot pay for in cash. I guess that makes me unsexy! :)

    1. J. Money April 7, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      That makes you so sexy it breaks the scales!! Haha… It can’t even compute at that level ;)

  10. Becky @ RunFunDone April 7, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    I’m pretty sexy…our Emergency Fund isn’t as large as it should be. We don’t have kids, and we have so many long-term savings accounts that I didn’t see the Emergency Fund as a priority (I always thought that if I lost my job, it wouldn’t be such a huge deal to take $$ from my other long-term savings accounts…like the vacation fund). Recently I bought a car soon after buying a house, so that meant that our “other” long-terms savings funds were relatively low as well. Now I’m prioritizing building up the Emergency Fund.

    1. J. Money April 7, 2014 at 11:04 AM

      I agree w/ the xfering money out of certain funds like vacations/etc. That’s what I’d probably do too – even before tapping my E-Fund! Haha…

  11. Jen @ Jen Spends April 7, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    We need to increase our savings rate, but I think we meet all the other criteria. Woot!

  12. Kathy April 7, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    Credit score = 840
    Saving % = 25%
    Credit card utilization= fully paid every month
    Emergency fund = 1 year
    Debt to income ratio = zero debt

    I must be one sexy (61 year old) woman!! :)

    1. J. Money April 7, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      Hot Damn! You’re near perfect! :)

  13. Natalie @ Financegirl April 7, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    This is one sexy post! I plan on keeping it around and seeing how much progress I make over the next year – I, too, save a little less than 15% because I pay A LOT more toward my student loans from law school. But I’ll be there after they are paid off (I can’t wait!). Thanks for the motivation!

  14. Crystal April 7, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    I’m sure someone else mentioned it, but you can check your credit score for free at Credit Karma. And my Discover card puts it on every statement. Here’s how we match up:

    1. Credit Score – 767 for me. 810 for hubby. PASS
    2. Save at least 15% Gross – it’s around 20-25% with the Roth IRA, future funds like for car maintenance, and the rest of our investments and side savings. PASS
    3. Credit Card Utilization – paid off every month. PASS
    4. Emergency funds – $35,000, which is about 6 months of pure expenses or 9 months if you take into account ongoing rental income. PASS
    5. Debt to income ratio – ranges from 10-14% depending on our income for the month. We only have one debt – a $990 monthly mortgage payment. PASS

    Yay, we’re financially sexy. ;-)

  15. SavvyFinancialLatina April 7, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    When I first met my husband we weren’t really financially savvy. Just a pair of freshman. But I tell him if we had met when we were older, I would have definitely judged how financially sexy he was! :)

  16. April 7, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    My sexiness should allow me that second batch of cookies. Unfortunately wife won’t buy that.

    1. J. Money April 8, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      Have her call me – I’ll explain it to her :)

  17. Angella April 7, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    Well, I am officially super unsexy, but let’s just say it’s a work in progress?

    1. Almost there! My credit score dropped from 815 down to 744 when I bought my house. (But my husbands went up, wtf?!!!)
    2. Pass! We save 20%.
    3. Fail. About 41% credit card utilization, but should be 0% by the end of the year!
    4. Emergency fund – work in progress, long way to go.
    5. Pass! Our debt-to-income ratio is about 15%.

    My goal is to be sexy by the end of the year. :)

    1. J. Money April 8, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      You’re definitely well on your way! Keep on keeping on!

  18. Samantha April 7, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    Woot! We are super sexy!

    1) J$ – you beat me, but not by much. I’m sitting pretty at 824.
    2) Saving only 15% – but just because we’re throwing ~30% at our final debt.
    3) 0% – woo hoo!
    4) Six months expenses in an emergency fund – easy peasy!
    5) A bit under 10% – our last remaining debt, the mortgage!

    Hoping to have this paid off by the end of the year and then I’ll have a ridiculously sexy savings rate, although to be fair, I bet our credit scores will begin to plummet! Ask me if I care!!!

    1. J. Money April 8, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      Do you care??

      A: HELL NO!

  19. Wunderwriter April 7, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    Scores great, Credit cards paid in full monthly, DTI 25%…

    Savings doesn’t meet the 15% as we are trying to pay down our HELOC as rapidly as possible before it converts to fully amortized in July of 2016.

    Emergency fund is seriously lacking, although we have several alternatives that we could utilize should disaster strike.

    Still unhappy with the current amount of overall mortgage debt vs. annual income (3.68 years worth of gross annual income equals current outstanding balance). I know there’s no metric in this equation for that, but it is a staggering number (although not for Cali). Fortunately, continuing to pay down the existing HELOC will reduce that ratio as well.

    1. J. Money April 8, 2014 at 4:46 PM

      Mortgages in general suck. Unless you’re smart enough to pick one up for like $100k or less that’s somewhat do-able to pay off in a shorter amount of time. I totally fell for “the dream” years ago and kicking myself since ;)

  20. Done by Forty April 7, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    Dead sexy, J Mo, as always. I think we’re all in good company here, too. What a bunch of lookers your readers are!

    1. J. Money April 8, 2014 at 4:46 PM

      (that’s what I’m saying!)

  21. karen @ Money Saving Enthusiast April 7, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    You are really good about doing those financial checkups there, Mister. Wow! I checked my credit score recently but I didn’t check on all that other stuff you got there on your test. So instead of doing pass/fail today, I’ll just take the test at a different time now that I know what’s on it. LOL I’m going to spend less on the weekend to attempt to catch up to you. On your mark, get set, save. ; )

  22. The First Million is the Hardest April 7, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    My credit score is just a touch below 750, which is the only thing keeping me from being totally sexy. That’s ok though, I don’t think I could handle the fame money and women that come with it anyhow!

    1. J. Money April 8, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      HAH! You don’t give yourself enough credit ;)

  23. No Nonsense Landlord April 7, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    The last time I did my credit score, it was well over 800. But that is a FICO score, the real one. There are many different types of scores, some go over 950.

    The fact is, 13% of people have a credit score over 800. All the rest I pass… No credit card debt. No home mortgage. Over $300K in after tax money that could be considered ’emergency’ funds.

    So I guess I am pretty sexy. But I don’t exactly look like Brad Pitt, or even Angelina Jolie… But if she wants me, I am hers.

  24. Chellie @Debtandthegirl April 7, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    There’s nothing beats on being physically sexy and a good financial status will make you feel even more sexier! I hope you maintain your sexiness over the years. Your post is a great motivation for anyone who wants to achieve ultimate sexiness!

  25. Broke Millennial April 7, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    Admittedly this lyric popped into my head after your Brick House reference: “Yeah, baby … when it comes to females, Cosmo ain’t got nothin’ to do with my selection. 36-24-36? Ha ha, only if she’s 5’3″.”

    While I am 5’3 and don’t quite hit that sexiness test I pass the more important one with flying colors! Sounds like we might all have to have a sexy-off at FinCon. Just sayin’….

    Now I must go listen to Baby Got Back.

    1. J. Money April 8, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      A “Sexy off!” YES! Let’s do it! (with sexy beers too :))

  26. Zee April 8, 2014 at 1:54 AM

    Your credit score says 828… But it also says:

    Your Score was created on: 04/01/14

    Are you sure this isn’t just some April fools joke? ha!

    1. J. Money April 8, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      Hah! I certainly hope not! I don’t like paying to be tricked :)

  27. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen April 8, 2014 at 2:22 AM

    3 out of 5! I’ve got a decent emergency fund and am building it up to very healthy fund currently so I’ll hit 4 out of 5 soon. Just bought a house though in LA so that means a big fat mortgage. No credit card or loan debt at all though. Just the mortgage and one car.

  28. Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life April 8, 2014 at 6:08 AM

    That’s an awesome credit score! Perhaps one day…

    Anyway, I’m working towards sexiness. I’m at the halfway point, trying to get my student loans paid off, along with saving a lot more of my income. It’s not perfect, but it’s a process, just like getting the body you always wanted!

  29. Anneli @thefrugalweds April 8, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    Wheew… we just eeked out #5 there! We’re right below the ~35% threshold on our debt to income ratio since we’re in the process of paying off our car this year. (yes we financed the car… but we’re paying it off within 12 months & practically paying peanuts on the interest rate because of our great credit – check for sexiness #1) Hopefully, we’ll be done with my student loans in 2015 as well! While it certainly isn’t the most important, we also try to get our credit card utilization below 20%. Fico scores prefer utilization under 20% and if we wanna play by their rules, that’s what we’re doing :-)
    Thanks for this, J.Money! We have another barometer to keep track of our financial sexiness!

    1. J. Money April 8, 2014 at 4:52 PM

      It’s all about tracking stuff and working on it over time. Then once you hit your goals finally you’ll only have MORE to work on, haha… but it beats being lazy and boring! :)

  30. debt debs April 9, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    I am inspired to do this.

    I have avoided checking my credit score because I didn’t want to pay money to do this, but maybe now it’s time. FAIL

    When you say you should be saving 15% on gross, do you consider company match portions of retirement savings as part of this? I think I’m at 9% (6% +3%) FAIL

    Two are 5% and 2% respectively, but one is 52% due to a low rate cash advance that I took out and made a mortgage prepayment. It will be down to 30% this month, as my husband got a large commission cheque that will be going entirely to this card. Intention is to have it entirely paid off before rate increase. Overall, I’m at 25%, but I think you expect this to be measured on a per card basis. FAIL (kinda)

    Emergency is 7K+ in cash, my target is 10K. But I also have $25K in TFSA which I count as part of my e-fund. 6 months living expenses = 30K , 32K so PASS. Woo Hoo!

    Excluding credit cards, which I pay entirely each month (except for low rate cash advance mentioned above) my debt to income is 18%. So yeah, PASS.

    Good exercise. Recommend everyone try this.

    1. J. Money April 9, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      Way to go on that Emergency Fund! And having so much in your TFSA too – that’s great :)

      And yeah – I do believe that the 15% gross savings does include contributions/matches/etc.

      Keep working at it!

  31. bobebob April 9, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    You must have a credit score of 750 or higher – 814 Check
    You should be saving at least 15% of your gross income – 28% last year Check
    Your “credit card utilization” should be 35% or lower – 0% month to month Check
    You must have a very healthy emergency fund – approx 8 months Check
    And your “debt to income” ratio must be 35% or less.- Mortgage (only debt) is 18% of gross income) – Check

    1. J. Money April 10, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      Rock on! You’re killing it!

  32. Slinky April 10, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    1. You must have a credit score of 750 or higher
    Don’t care as long as I’m getting the best rates! (I am.)
    2. You should be saving at least 15% of your gross income
    >18% in pretax savings, + additional post tax savings for long and short term goals
    3. Your “credit card utilization” should be 35% or lower
    Still don’t care. I pay it off every month and get points. Charge $3000 and get $60 back or have a better credit score I don’t plan to do anything with anytime soon. Hmm…decisions, decisions!
    4. You must have a very healthy emergency fund
    Must, huh? Between insurance, a high savings rate and enough cash to cover deductibles and out of pockets, we’re pretty set for the moment. What we can’t cash flow, we insure.
    5. And your “debt to income” ratio must be 35% or less.
    <15% all at low interest, no current plans to prepay.

    Personally, I think doing what's smart for you is sexier than following preformulated, generic advice. Generic plans are better than no plans, but smart, specific plans created to reach your personal goals are even better.

  33. J. Money April 14, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    They don’t call it “personal” finance for nothing, eh?

  34. Texas Woman April 22, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    I totally agree with all of the points necessary to make someone financially sexy. But just let me add this, with all of that savings and planning, etc., you can be wiped out pretty quickly with a serious illness. I know, because about two years after I got out of debt, started a healthy ER fund and was on my way to a great credit score, I was diagnosed with something that is still ongoing. Thank God that I am able to continue to work, otherwise, I would have been destitute in no time. But the resources that I did manage to save before this happened and the know-how I’ve acquired by reading and basicially learning from experience, has saved me. So the bottom line to maintaining your sexy budget is “Don’t forget that your #1 Asset is your Health.” Cheers to everyone!

    1. J. Money April 24, 2014 at 6:40 AM

      Great addition, new friend! We usually take health for granted until all of a sudden there’s a problem. Here’s wishing you a speedy and safe recovery :)


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