I started reading O: The Oprah Magazine in college, right around the time that it came out, and very quickly realized that I adored Suze Orman. On a list of Fun Things To Read About, finances fall pretty low for me…but she just manages to make every discussion accessible, straightforward, and (God knows how) interesting.
On a recent episode of Oprah’s All Stars (a four-part series in which Dr. Phil, Suze Orman, and Dr. Oz appear before a live studio audience to answer questions about “health, wealth, and mental well-being”), Gayle King asked Suze how many dates a couple should go on before they start seriously talking about money, and my ears perked up.
I once had a friend who confessed to me that she and her fiance were moving in together, but that she didn’t know what kinds of apartments to look for…because she didn’t know how much money he made, so she couldn’t figure out what they could afford. Like, not even a ballpark number. And I was shocked – how did they get to the point of engagement without ever even touching on this? – but then I realized that for some couples, it may just not be a particularly comfortable topic. Maybe they were even raised to think that financial discussions – even with people whom you love – simply aren’t appropriate. Or maybe (at least according to Suze) they really needed to get cracking on this.
Anyway, here’s Suze’s answer: Well, you know, you start talking about money from the very first date, even if you’re not verbally talking about money. How are you going to share the bill? Who’s going to leave the tip? Where are you going to go? So you can watch somebody’s financial habits and notice very quickly: are they honest, or are they dishonest with what they’re doing with money? I can tell you this: what’s really important, if you ever do get serious with somebody, is you better be as financially intimate with them as you are personally intimate with them. You know how you meet somebody and you wonder: do you leave your bra on the doorknob? Do you leave the toilet up? Do they leave the hairs in the sink?…Are they spenders or are they savers? Are they respectful with money or disrespectful? Because “M” just doesn’t stand for marriage, it also stands for money.
Accessible, straightforward, interesting. Love her.
(Which brings me to a quick digression: have any of you been watching Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star? Do you think any of the contestants have demonstrated that they’re capable of filling these kinds of shoes?)
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