This is an interview with co-authors Manisha Thakor & Sharon Kedar about the process of writing and birthing their new book, Get Financially Naked: how to talk money with your honey (Adams Media, January 2010)
1. Why did you write this book?
Manisha: It all started with Sharon. She's great at identifying 30,000 foot mega-trends and gosh did we ever step in one with a short chapter on love & money in our first book, ON MY OWN TWO FEET. In traveling around the country promoting that book, we would talk about the three power steps to financial success - saving, investing, and protecting. It was that last piece, protecting - in the context of your primary relationship that consistently caused women to open up and tell us the most remarkable stories of financial pain and hurt. Our goal with GET FINANCIALLY NAKED was to give women an empowering language and roadmap they could use to navigate their financial lives when coupled up.
Sharon: I never thought we'd write a second book, but here we are. We heard so many stories of smart, capable women who got the short end of the financial stick by assuming their Prince(ss) Charming would take care of money matters. This book basically asked to be written to help couples talk constructively about money.
2. How long did it take to write the book?
Sharon: This book writing felt like a blur. While our first book took a few years, this one took a few months. We finished it 5 weeks after my second child arrived, and I was literally typing from my hospital bed post c-section. Crazy, definitely. But it just seemed like GET FINANCIALLY NAKED had to be written. I guess I had twins?
Manisha: This book popped out of us almost like a burp. There was something raw and guttural about this book. The topic was intense (and intensely personal) and lent itself to a more of an outpouring of words than a surgical winnowing down of advice as we did with our first book.
3. Where & when did you find time to write?
Manisha: When we started this book we were both working at demanding careers in the financial services industry (during one of the biggest market meltdowns since the great depression, no less). So in the beginning it was snippets here and there at odd hours whenever the heck it could be fit in. About two months before the manuscript was due, I decided to leave corporate America to pursue my passion for all things women & money full time and was then confronted with every writer's nightmare - an unstructured day that had to be tamed. It took a while, but I eventually found the "Edith Wharton" method of devoting the first 3-4 hours of the day to dedicated writing was the most efficient method for me.
Sharon: Manisha and I have always said that our financial literacy advocacy had to be "passion driven." That's what we did, when we had the time, we wrote. It was a lot to take on, but I kept thinking about all the people we'd help with this book. Frankly, I think we had to look past ourselves to write this book.
4. What surprised you most as you researched this book?
Sharon: I was surprised at how little people really do talk money with their serious, committed partners. It's amazing the stories we heard. Most people just don't want to deal with their money to begin with. On top of that, most couples disagree about at least something financially speaking. That's not a recipe for financial bliss without a "language" to talk. That's what GET FINANCIALLY NAKED is, a language to talk about money with your mate in a constructive, upbeat, action-oriented way.
Manisha: Shame. I was blown away by how much shame people feel when it comes to talking about how they really feel about and interact with money in the private confines of their primary relationships.
5. What was the hardest part of birthing this book?
Manisha: For me it was separating my (very strong and opinionated!) feelings about money and relationships from giving broad based advice that all couples could tailor to their specific situations. In plain English, I'm frugal and conservative (ok, borderline stingy & ridiculously risk adverse) and it was important to both Sharon and I that this book be inclusive of all sorts of viewpoints and risk tolerances.
Sharon: Birthing it! Seriously. We couldn't believe that the deadline for this book came around in no time.
6. What has been the most interesting question you've been asked so far by readers?
Sharon: The most fascinating question: "Why" do we need this book? I think a lot of people would prefer to stick their head in the sand and not deal with money. And then they are so surprised to find how easily this book reads, and how it can bring up MONEY in a way that's not harsh, not judgmental.
Manisha: I'm fascinated by how many people ask about whether or not to consolidate debt in a relationship. One young woman (early 20s) told me that asking each other how much credit card debt was the new hot question in her crowd before they'd start dating someone. While on one hand I'm always heartened to hear people talking honestly about money - it saddens me to see how widespread and pervasive crushing consumer and student loan debt has become.
7. What advice do you have for people thinking about writing a book in 2010?
Manisha: Don't quit your day job!
Sharon: Two books later, I'd say only write a book if you have something to say, and want to put it out there. It can be a tough process (translation: not always as glamorous as it looks), so make sure you go in eyes wide open. Go for it, but go for it knowing what you are in for.