Thursday, August 12, 2010

Unthinkable (I'm Ready)

Singer Alicia Keys croons, "If you ask me, I'm ready" in her latest single from her fourth LP, Element of Freedom. She did the unthinkable and expressed her readiness formally in an intimate wedding to producer Swizz Beatz in France just a week ago. Congratulations, Alicia and Swizz!

It's unthinkable for me to imagine being married at my age, though I thought I was "ready" to jump the broom at the tender age of 19 to a man just about 10 years my senior (who I might add, turned out to be a d-mn fool). Yeah, I know. He was not totally to blame in the situation, as I walked blindly into coupledom like the foolish young girl that I was. I hadn't been schooled on matters of the heart, how to go about a healthy relationship, or money management. I simply thought love was all I, he, or we needed. Boy, was I WRONG? I found myself thinking something similar to the lyrics of Keri Hilson's "What Channel?" constantly. We operated on two completely different wave lengths when it came to our expectations of one another, our finances, and just about everything else but sex, which made for nothing but TROUBLE in what I thought was paradise. After six months of shackin' and a year or so in, it was SPLITSVILLE. We nearly killed each other like an episode of Snapped. Okay, I'm kidding. Really! Some of you might read and protest that you could never be me, while others have played a similar role in their relationships, or some might even know someone with a parallel story. Well, never say never 'cause I never would've thought I would end up being that girl, yet I was. Now no matter where you are in your romantic affairs, we can all learn from today's lesson.

I think one of the most important things I learned from the experience is what my boo Hill Harper calls, "The Conversation." By that I mean, it's crucial to have communication and financial intimacy. When was the last time you and your honey talked about bread? No, I don't mean a loaf. Okay, if it's taking you that long to answer I say it's time for REAL TALK on the issue. Minimize future stress and headaches by getting clear on how you feel about individual and shared financial responsibilities. For instance, who will take care of the utilities at the crib, who will stay home to care of the kiddos if you choose to have them and who will work, or even if you will have separate bank accounts.

NOTE: If you're married and equally responsible, I'm all for shared accounts; however, if you AIN'T
married....(sigh) please don't. I'm just saying.

True story, all you grown and sexy strivers might like Lisa Peterson's Pillow Talk: Make Talking About Money Sexy in Your Marriage. As the saying goes, "Money talks," and Lisa says it doesn't have to be boring. Instead, it can be much more like foreplay. In an interview with 90.9 WBUR, Lisa told listeners to "Have a quickie. Try to quickly check in with each other, whether in person or through the use of little financial love notes." You might even like teasing 'em with a sexy text message or setting reminders with a cute pic in his favorite teddy. My girl Jacquette M. Timmons, author of Financial Intimacy, and the ladies over at DailyWorth suggest loving your boo and your stacks by playfully discussing doe and then progressing onto more serious talks like retirement, insurance, and wills as a team. Find out how financially compatible the two of you are with this quiz. Spend some QT and get to know what's old and new with your significant other with full disclosure and review one another's credit reports once or twice a year. Share your vision on where you'd like to be financially, collaborate to meet those goals, and work together to recover after a setback. However you do it is entirely up to you, but it's crucial that you do get it crackin' with baby about that cheddar. While you might not agree on everything, financial intimacy allows you two to strengthen your partnership.

So lesson #3 for young strivers is:

Become financially intimate with your partner, and gauge what you'd like and your situation to be sure you're really "ready" before doing the "unthinkable."

Questions to Think About
  1. Have you experienced relationship trouble because your opinion differs from your boo's on the subject of money?
  2. How "ready" are you for the next step in your relationship?
  3. How do you and your partner get your finances poppin' behind closed doors?


  1. Ms. MaShari! Well done, my friend! I didn't realize how crucial it was to be all in my husband's "business" (until reading lit you've given me) as far as our financial future. We always played it as you pay half, I pay half, and what we do in our own bank accts is our business. Since we been talking about ALL of it, we've realized spending habits that weren't good, corrected them, and we have more in savings to show for it! So I certainly think everyone should have "the talk"! If your partner doesn't want to or doesn't think that it's important, then you may want to rethink your situation!!! It's just that serious.

  2. Love love love this, Ms. Mashari! So right on point! Maybe I'll come back with more useful comments, but I co-sign everything you said in this post. Financial incompatibility is a big deal, and can be as much of a deal breaker (I'm sure) as emotional or spiritual incompatibility.

  3. @ Mrs. Erica H I'm happy to hear that financial intimacy has offered your relationship benefits that you can bank on! I also LOVE the advice you offered our JBT readers to "rethink" relationships with partners who are uninterested or unwilling to talk about money. Sadly, a lot of us (self included) have dived into relationships without even considering these types of issues. I've heard the media spew countless stats about money being the major reason for so many divorces. What I wonder now is why people get in so deep so quickly? What are your thoughts?

    @Miss Berneta Glad to hear we're in agreement on this week's topic. You're right; it's a very big deal. What's been your experience with financial intimacy and/or incompatibility?

  4. I'm not sure, but I can only guess that some think it's a sticky subject and are allowing themselves to be consumed in debt, rather than having a small talk a/b the finances. If you think of your partner as someone you can tell anything, then talking to them a/b financial business should not be a problem.

  5. @Ms. Mashari: Some of the people I've dated have been really bad with financial organization. In economic times like this, however, I have plenty of sympathy. I've encountered dating difficulties twice in this respect, with two different types of personalities.

    Person #1: There'll be moments when he/she simply doesn't have ANY money at all, and those are the moments where I end up feeling guilty for wanting to spend time (go out to dinner and such) with the person because I know his/her financial strain. It tends to just make things kind of uncomfortable. This is the person who'll spend money (on me) even when he/she doesn't have it, which ultimately leads to a lot of guilt (on my part) and shame or resentment (on their part).

    Person #2: This is the person who'll just disappear when his/her money gets too funny, and once he/she gets it right again (however temporarily) he/she returns. This makes for an unstable dating/relationship scenario,where sometimes I end up confused, trying to figure out why I haven't heard from said person...maybe he/she is just not that into me. But then I later find out it's because the person was dead broke and was too embarrassed to share his/her troubles with me. I subsequently suffer through several disappearances and reappearances until I just can't take it anymore.

    Both situations cause a lot of unnecessary discomfort and confusion even.

  6. Good post, Ms. MaShari! Considering how MONEY is a huge issue in relationships/marriages and the management (or mismanagement of it) can lead to divorce...this is surely something that needs to be well thought out along with sex, kids, living arrangements, etc.