Rock, Paper, Scissors

Did you know that a lot of couples don’t talk about money? Seriously, people have lived with each other for years, gone on vacations, attended numerous family functions, you name it. We do a lot of stuff with our significant others, and many of us still find it challenging to have discussions about money.

Let me tell you a story about my lovely wife, TiYanna. We dated for quite a few years before we got married, and I made it very clear that we would not be that couple that didn’t talk about money. It took us some time to get into the money talks, but like most couples, there was one outing that changed our relationship forever and forced us to talk.

If you’re like most couples, you avoid the money conversation until there’s a blowup. I’ll never forget the day it happened to us. We had gone out to dinner one night and had yet to discuss who would pay for the meal. This is probably an issue for most couples unless you’ve had “the talk” already. Some people say the man should always pay, while some women don’t mind paying. On this particular dinner outing, I didn’t necessarily want to go out to eat that night. So, in my head, I assumed TiYanna wouldn’t mind getting the bill. (Assuming things in a relationship, big mistake!)

The waitress brings the bill and lays it on the table close to me. I don’t know if it was intentional, but I believe the waitress was on that “the man is always supposed to pay” thing. I immediately slid the bill back into the middle of the table. I then asked TiYanna if she would be okay with paying since I didn’t want to go out to eat. She gave me this look that indicated she wasn’t trying to pay. I quickly came up with what I think is the best way to solve simple problems in relationships (try it out sometime.) We would play rock, paper, scissors, and the loser would pay. Usually, I like playing one time, but TiYanna always pressed to do 2-out-of-3 if she lost the first match. She lost the first match, then tied it up, and then I closed it out with a victory. Oh, I forgot to tell you, the waitress stood right there while we were in battle. 

That waitress couldn’t stop laughing at us. She couldn’t believe two adults were playing this childish game to solve a minor dispute. However, that incident changed our relationship forever. After that night, it sparked a larger conversation that we had to have about going out to eat. We weren’t married yet, but I knew at that time I would marry TiYanna. I didn’t want this to be an issue for the rest of our lives. So, immediately after TiYanna lost that game of rock paper scissors, she immediately said, “Joint account!”

The #BuildWealth Movement™ works tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty™ for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.

Jasper and TiYanna (2)

How the Smith’s roll

In every episode of our podcast, Love In The Black, TiYanna (my wife) and I discuss how we tackle the finances in our family. We are very transparent about our conversations in hopes that other couples might try out some of the things that work for us. A lot of married couples don’t talk about money, which is one of the leading causes of divorce.

What if more couples were as open and honest about their financial issues as us? (Note: we’ve only been married for a little over two years, so I’ll probably need to update you when we hit a marriage milestone like the 5-year or 10-year mark.)

I’m a financial planner, and having spent so long dealing with couples and their money issues, I refused to be the next victim, the next statistic, the next cautionary tale, and TiYanna felt the same. So, early in our dating life, I shared with TiYanna something that I did consistently, that I hoped one day she would do. I update my balance sheet every three months. I explained to her that this was how I measured my financial success. Whether I had a good quarter, a bad quarter, or somewhere in between, I would look at my numbers.

When she asked me why I update my balance sheet regularly, I told her I treat myself like a publicly traded company. A publicly traded company has to do an earnings report, plus a call, and share what happened with their business with the entire world. As a result of earnings reports, a company’s stock price will go up and down based on how the world feels about that report and its future. So, if it’s good enough for a publicly traded company, it was good enough for me as an individual.

I appreciate TiYanna’s willingness to participate. She admitted that she was a little nervous about doing this with me, but I told her that I didn’t necessarily want to see her numbers. I wanted her to do her balance sheet so she could begin to track her progress. Then, when she felt comfortable sharing, she could. Honestly, this was part of my wifey vetting process. I needed to know if this would be an issue in the future. I didn’t think it would be a deal breaker, but I’ve encountered too many people who have gotten divorced because of a financial incident.

I wanted to be transparent with my future partner, but others didn’t feel the need to do so. I’m not saying it’ll always end in divorce, but I didn’t want to chance it. Kudos to TiYanna for her willingness and courage. I know this is not typical in most households, but the Smiths aren’t the typical family. I mean, Mr. #BuildWealth can’t have a situation where he’s not having a financial conversation with his boo thang.

I want to encourage all couples to have the discussion, and you don’t need me or some other financial planner, advisor, coach, or counselor to do the work. You just have to set a time and get it done! And if you’re uncomfortable with having the talk, I’d recommend having an adult beverage if that’s your jam. Or, do it over dinner, smoothies, or coffee. Make it comfortable enough for both parties to be open and honest. That’s the key.

The #BuildWealth Movement™ works tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty™ for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.