Living in the midst of a global pandemic has really shown just how vital it is to have our finances together because that “unknown” can derail so much in our personal lives. From unexpected layoffs, furloughs, and terminations to many Black-owned businesses forced to shut down their operations, money has been a huge priority for many couples. The pandemic has also allowed many to shapeshift and create other avenues to grow their money. In partnerships, mismanaging finances – or mismanaging conversations around finances – can be to the detriment of a relationship. This year’s virtual Black Love Summit dove into that with the Growing Your Money Together panel featuring comedian Kev On Stage, his wife and entrepreneur Melissa Fredericks, and producers/entrepreneurs Jasmine Nicole and Andre Cisco.
The purpose of the panel was to provide transparency as to what the journey of taking financial risks really looks like. Moderated by Financial Fitness Coach Saundra Davis, this particular panel, sponsored by Advancing Black Pathways through JP Morgan & Chase, delved into the realness that some are willing to dive into ventures head first, while others want a secure harness allowing them to stick the landing. And those opposites, may actually share the same household.
Generational Fears: Money Scripts
As Black people, a lot of how we see money, save money, or use money is as a result of our upbringings. Moderator Saundra Davis defined our ideas surrounding money as “money scripts”. Money scripts can be a true turning point in better understanding our partners and why they feel the way that they do about spending, saving, and investing.
Kevin mentioned that although he grew up poor, he remembers his mother having multiple businesses and would still carve out money in order to take a family vacation. On the contrary, his wife Melissa who grew up under the same circumstances of poverty often saw her father with the bills spread out on the dining room table. As a result, her approach to money shows up, as Kevin phrased it, “broke is around the corner and someone is eventually going to come and get whatever we have from us.” But both couples could agree that their money scripts were rooted in the examples of the generations before them.
It was a mirrored sentiment that Andre Cisco shared when saying that he does not like to spend any money. “I want to have as much liquid as possible and I want to just sit and look at all of my money.” Ultimately, the couples were able to show that defining your money script and the triggers that may arise as a result of poverty, debt, bills, etc. is a vital way to better understand your partner and make the best financial decisions as a unit.
Balance: The Kite & String Theory
One of the most absolutely poignant notations from this segment came from Melissa Fredericks. Melissa noted that a social media follower mentioned the “kite and string” theory. In her marriage, she pointed out that, “Kevin is the kite. He is the dreamer and just ready to go. I am the string that’s always saying ‘let’s have a plan and work together in a way that makes sense’”.
Melissa stated, “the kite without the string flies too close to the sun and the string without the kite stays on the ground”. The parallel shows how, oftentimes, one person may be ready to head into new ventures or ideas while the other, although equally excited, may want to ensure that it makes financial sense for their livelihood and also that they have created a cushion in the event it doesn’t turn out exactly how it was planned.
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The Pandemic Pivot
Jasmine Nicole spoke of having to pivot as a result of COVID-19 due to being a producer and curating live events–prior. Many people were in the same position as her, working in industries that required the physicality of showing up. In June of 2020, she and Andre created The Nice Plant, to bring plants and plant-based products that help enhance people’s mindfulness as well as being an elevation to everyone’s overall wellness and lifestyle. However, creating a business with your partner in the midst of a recessive economy and global pandemic can be both scary and also affirming to the partnership (both business and intimate).
The biggest takeaway was as Andre stated, “learn what areas each person can fill”. Both couples showed that going into business with the same person you have to go to bed with at night isn’t the easiest. However, you can also depend on your partner to have your back, hold you up, and know that if all else fails they will be a reciprocated support system. And although many couples may not be entrepreneurs, learning how to pivot in the event one is not employed or both is extremely imperative.
Take the time to really identify what each person’s best quality is surrounding finances in your partnership and develop ways to harness those strengths as a unit.