Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why Marry for Money When You Can Make Your Own?

I just finished the informative and fun-to-read book, Goal Digger: Lessons Learned From the Rich Men I Dated by model and writer Alicia Dunams. She specifically dated rich men to learn how to make her own money, instead of marrying some guy to get it.

The lessons she learned inspired me, but I was especially excited about the decisions she made about men that led her to acquire her unusual financial education.

She writes of a bad marriage:

"Before we were married, I told my then fiance that I was with an ex-boyfriend during the first two weeks we'd met. Even though it was very early in our relationship, I thought I should tell him because he was a devout Christian. Besides, our pastor said we should always be honest with each other.

Instead of separating, we ended up eloping three months later. The very first day of our marriage started off as a glimpse into the hell it would eventually become. He tormented me daily with the news I'd given him months before we'd eloped. He'd sit on my arms to hold them down and then interrogate me about my relationship with this past lover. 'Where did he take you? What did you wear?' This would go on all night."

The guy sounds like a hell of a Christian, eh? But it gets worse:

"He wrote the word SLUT on my jeans, and made me throw away all the clothing and heels I had ever worn with this person. He read my journals and even made me destroy pictures and letters from past boyfriends. This went on even after he cheated on me. Because of this behavior, I was effectively lobotomized for most of the marriage. I was stoical, with no emotion. The abuse distanced me from my family and friends. I put up with this torment until the birth of our daughter. She was the only source of light during this dismal time...

One day, I woke up and said, 'No longer.'"

After Dunams' marriage ended, she spent time with another disappointing man:

"My second dysfunctional relationship was similar to many women's--being attached to a commitment phobe."

Eventually, she realized she needed to stop looking for a man to be a "savior figure," and she set out to learn how to achieve her own goals by learning how successful men achieved theirs. She dated a series of them and discovered that if they could become financially independent, she could, too.

Good book.

Since I, too, enjoy money, I'm learning how to make it and keep it myself. I have to admit, the idea of handling finances once intimidated me. After all, in high school I'd ended up in 3-Term Algebra (translation: Algebra for the Slow). Math was never my subject.

But over the years, I've discovered that several former Calculus whizzes I knew during my adolescence are currently mired in debt (credit card, home equity, you name it). It dawned on me that you don't have to be Pythagoras to handle money competently.

We women need to be able to handle money competently.

Here's a horror story: My cousin told me about a 40-something friend, who had been forced to room with a stranger following her divorce. Seems this woman's husband had led her to believe he was taking care of the finances during their marriage.

Turns out he hadn't taken care of much. What's worse, he hadn't even taken care of the IRS, which left this poor woman indebted to the scariest agency of the US Government. She ended up having to give up her home and share a small apartment until she could pay them off.

So let's be on top of our finances, People.

Money is freedom, and money is power. And, believe me, it's a lot easier to stay in love with a man when you don't suffer from money problems. Money problems spell death to a relationship (have I said this before? Probably). And having money means you don't ever have to take crap from some substandard guy.

If you don't think you have what it takes to learn money management skills, you're wrong. If you fear books about finance will bore you into a coma, Alicia Dunams' definitely won't.

Peter Lynch's Learn to Earn is good, as well, and it should be readily available at your library. The next book on my list to read is The Millionnaire Next Door, which another cousin (a spectacularly successful man) swears by. You should be able to find that one in your library, too.