Growing up, there are so many things that we are taught about marriage and finances that take actually being in it to have a better understanding of how these dynamics work. I, unfortunately, didn’t have a structure of learning how to balance my money and what I picked up was any money that came in, went right back out. In this way, I had an unhealthy relationship with money that caused a greater anxiety whenever I was financially stable–that is, until I met my husband.
The most recent episode of Black Love Season 5 (episode 2) resonated with me a lot, especially the two couples Alphonso and Erica, and Dwight and Deshun. However, all the husbands had less financial sense than their wives and here I am thinking about it being the other way around for me and my husband. When I met my husband I was making more money than him, but he had money that came with longevity. He had stocks, mutual funds, and other investments and I didn’t even have a savings account, let alone money that was making money in my sleep. I just had more money and thought that was security enough to do what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t thinking about the “what if’s” and the future.
In the earlier stages of dating my husband I learned that his father was really grounded in making sure money was allocated toward bills, necessities, and then other things as a tertiary measure. And my husband literally lived by that, to the point that when we did get married I would just have to go and buy him essentials like socks and underwear because he just wouldn’t. He would take half of his salary and invest it, then give me a third, himself a third, and the rest would be for household expenses. So, after a big contract that he had for work, which was also within our first year of marriage, we sat down and really spoke about our finances for our growing family because I wanted a honeymoon and he was looking to invest it all–and somewhere we met in the middle.
The earlier, the better
I strongly believe that the earlier you establish financial expectations with your partner, the better. No, I don’t mean that someone should be making a certain amount of money, but more so what will you both do with the money that is brought in? Old habits die hard and the sooner you can nip some things in the bud, the less stressful finances become because there’s expectations set. What do you both value that costs money? My husband and I both value traveling, but had to understand that in order to continue that lifestyle we had to accrue money outside of our everyday expenses and needs. The more conversations that we had around our upbringing and how our parents tackled finances, truly helped us comprehend why we approached the subject matter the way we did.
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To invest or save or both
As Black people, there’s so much we can learn about making our money grow while we are sleeping. Building generational wealth is a huge stepping stone for a lot of us because many of us do not come from wealthy families and want to leave more behind for generations to come. One of my and my husband’s favorite things to do is to listen to podcasts and he used to always listen to Earn Your Leisure. This podcast really touches upon financial literacy that ranges from different types of investments, having side hustles, paying off student loan debt, and much more. I had a much better understanding of the process of investing, different avenues that would allow us to make money without working as hard, and knowing that we could still enjoy what we made while we were alive.
Marriage is about balance and so are finances
Although my husband has always had a better structural look at money, he didn’t always know how to enjoy it. He would penny pinch and refused to allow himself to indulge just a little. But his lack of willingness to indulge, balanced out my carefree “make it rain” moments. I have learned a lot from him in terms of making sure we have a cushion and thankfully his diligence in always setting a certain percentage aside of his salary is what we lived off for 7 months, during the pandemic. However, I try to remind my husband that we are also allowed to enjoy life and buy a few things that fill our worldly and material happiness.
Every relationship, household, and balance sheet will be different in terms of tackling finances. Understand that you are in it when the money is long and when it starts getting a little thin. The point is to be in it together, find ways to compromise, but also be willing to learn from each other.
Watch the new season of Black Love on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) every Friday at 10/9c. Seasons 1-4 of Black Love and the official after show, After Love are available on the free Black Love+ App for Android and iOS, as well as YouTube. DeShun and Dwight and Kita and Joe can be found on the latest After Love episode giving updates on their financial situations and a lot has changed!