By Dr. Boyce Watkins
I write open letters to my daughters periodically as a way to help heal the tremendous damage from broken families in the African American community. These thoughts are typically inspired by conversations that I have with my own girls, who came into my life through spiritual adoption. I strongly believe that every young woman deserves to have at least one man looking out for her without him wanting to have sexx in return.
So, whenever my girls and I have a conversation about a topic that I believe can be helpful to other young women, I try to put the ideas on paper so that I can become a temporary surrogate dad for anyone who might be able to benefit from this advice.
One of my girls and I had a conversation about men and money. Call me silly and old-fashioned, but I believe that it is natural for women to be more interested in men who can provide various forms of security: Financial security, emotional security, physical security. That’s why most women tend to be more attracted to men who are stronger: Big muscles, sharp minds, lots of power, ambition, resources, etc. This is mother nature’s way of wiring you to want to be with the man who can go out and get the things that you and your family need in order to survive.
With that being said, my daughter and I had a conversation about how to know if a man has a solid financial future, or if he’s going to be broke, busted and disgusted 10 years down the line. So, using my background as a finance professor and father, here are a few indicators:
1) Does he have a clear financial plan for his future? Is he going to school, starting a solid business or engaging in something that involves a 3- 5 year plan or is he living day-to-day? Success doesn’t usually happen by accident; it comes from careful planning and day-to-day execution. A man who is doing nothing right now could easily be doing nothing five years from now.
2) Does he have a child support situation (or two, or three) that will lead to someone else digging into his bank account? The child support courts can be brutal. I paid 18 years of support for my only biological child, and even though I made six figures, the payments were brutal. Even a financially secure man with lots of child support obligations is bringing a whole lot of economic baggage into the relationship, so you have to be ready for that (the same thing goes for women, but we’re not talking about women right now).
3) Is he a “big-baller?” Meaning, does he go to the club and spend money like it’s going out of style, wear the nicest clothes, drive the nicest car and all that other stuff? If so, be very careful, because he might have a highly paid lifestyle, but be living paycheck-to-paycheck. Also, it’s easy to fool people into believing that you’re doing well if you’re using debt to finance your expensive material possessions. Dudes like this might be able to maintain their lifestyle for a long period of time, but as soon as their income drops, it’s a wrap on their finances. Just ask all the broke men who lie in the past of Evelyn Lozada.
4) When you talk about money, saving and investing, does he change the subject or give vague answers? A man who doesn’t want to talk the concept of money management is typically in denial about his financial situation. He may be saddled with debt that he’s ignoring, spending to the max or not conscious about what he’s doing financially. A good analogy would be how a health nut responds if you ask him about his diet and exercise regimen: Typically, a super-fit health fanatic can tell you what they eat every day, how they work out, etc. An unfit person doesn’t pay attention to what they put in their mouth, as long as it tastes good. The same thing applies to money.
Choosing a good partner means that you can’t be overly focused on what they are right now that you ignore what they could become in the future. But you should also not be so focused on what they can become that you overlook what they are actually becoming. Before you share your precious cargo with any man and choose him as a potential father to your children, pay attention to the warning signs and look out for the guys who might ruin your life. Good looks, good sexx and “swag” and cover up some of incredibly dysfunctional tendencies and make you regret the day you were born.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Financial Lovemaking 101: Merging Assets with Your Partner in Ways that Feel Good.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.