The first season of love in the new decade is now upon us. While some couples plan on upgrading their relationships status a notch, the rest of us might get the classic red roses, pink heart candies, chocolates, the big question and the ring this Valentine’s Day. Here at Clutch, where “smart is always sexy,” and the first point we make in our manifesto, green-that is money green, is a year-round color of interest.

Published in ESSENCE, Glamour and regularly featured on CNN’s The Bottom Line, bestselling authors and best friends, Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar wants us to expose ourselves in more ways than the one we might have planned as we celebrate love this week. Their new book, Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money with Your Honey, begs the question many of our girlfriends won’t: “How financially compatible are you and your boo?” Manisha Thakor shares with our community of clutchettes info and tips on how to ease into getting the answer to this question without conflict, candy throwing or worse, broken hearts.

Clutch: When it comes to the subject of money in relationships, what can contributes to the beginning of the end?
Manisha: People spending 20-30K on a wedding is a horrific way to start off a marriage because many people can’t afford it. It ends up being a day they will remember forever because they’re paying for it forever! In spending so much money on extravagance, you lose focus on what’s really important, which is the union of you and your honey. I see it also with young couples buying a home. They buy more house than they can afford, and instead of having a warm, nurturing place to live, you end up having a money pit. Or, they buy more car than they can afford, and then one or the other of you is working a job you hate so that you can continue to drive these fancy schmancy wheels.

Clutch: I wonder if many couples operate off of the old adage, “Love conquers all?
Manisha: It sounds good, but love does not conquer all. If you have money issues, it will conquer your love. I see it over and over again, and that was the idea behind writing Get Financially Naked. One of the things that Sharon and I have found was that talkin’ money with your honey is highly problematic.

Clutch:Why is it so hard for couples to talk about this very important and hugely impactful subject?
Manisha: First of all, we’re not formally taught personal finance. And, in the history of America, we’ve never been. What I’ve noticed is shame. A lot of people feel embarrassed about admitting that they don’t understand what’s going on or how to manage their money, and there’s no societal encouragement to explore that component of your relationship. When you’ve told your friends that you’ve found “the one,” they’ll ask if he’s intellectually compatible, if you’re spiritually compatible, but no one asks if you’re financially compatible.

Clutch: In this economy, do you think the pressure to keep up with the Joneses is still great?
Manisha: In the past, people compared themselves to the Joneses next door. Today, they compare themselves to the Catherine Zeta Joneses next door. Because we’ve had easy access to credit, we’ve bought stuff that rich and famous people have to look like them, but we couldn’t really afford it. Because we don’t talk about money, we try and one-up each other. If you were able to look through the wall, and take a look at your neighbors finances, you’d be stunned to find most people live paycheck to paycheck.

Clutch: When is it the right time to start asking questions about finances? While you’re still dating? When you’re engaged?
Manisha: When you feel you’ve found “the one,” that’s when you start the conversation. You need to have some financial foreplay. In our book, we have a variety of different exercises to help couples ease into that conversation.

For more information please visit www.getfinanciallynaked.com.

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