When pursuing sex, love and relationships, it is critical for you to learn to screen out relationship prospects who are unhealthy for you, and to effectively communicate with those who prove qualified to engage in healthy, intimate relationships. That includes financial intimacy.

4 Financial Languages: The Secrets to Communicating About Money by Tarra Jackson, is an excellent resource designed to help you do just that. Not only am I recommending it as a strong addition to our Grown Zone Book Shelf, I was also honored to write the following foreword for the book:

Let’s get one thing straight from the beginning:

I am a purpose driven saver, with scaredy-cat saver tendencies.

Had I known this before I married the first time, when I was 26, I would have avoided the steep emotional and financial costs of both that union and a subsequent one. (I am now happily married to my wife and GrownZone.com Co-Creator Zara D. Green.) It is a commonly accepted reality that financial conflicts are the most common characteristic, whether as a symptom or the cause, of failed and dysfunctional romantic relationships, including marriages. The experiences of my first two marriages absolutely conformed to that reality—conflicting values and relationships with money between me and my erstwhile partners made establishing healthy, sustainable partnerships impossible.

I know that, in both cases, while we may have been speaking standard American English, we were speaking—and hearing—totally different financial languages. As we say in the Grown Zone, the consequences of unhealthy relationships are far more than just hurt feelings and broken hearts—the financial costs of a single failed marriage cycle, from courtship through divorce, routinely exceeds $100,000 for each person in the relationship, and far more than that for high-income/high-net worth individuals. I estimate that, in my case, the financial costs of my first two marriages—above and beyond the emotional and psychological toll—easily exceeded $350,000. And I’ve seen those costs spiral into multiple millions of dollars for the entrepreneurs, moguls and senior-level corporate leaders whose stories I have chronicled during the more than three decades (and counting) as a journalist, editor and executive at Black Enterprise. This is a major reason why the longest chapter in Loving In The Grown Zone, the critically acclaimed book about healthy relationships co-authored by my wife Zara and I, is all about financial decision making.

The critical importance of recognizing the impact of relationship choices on financial outcomes, as well as of financial decisions on the health of relationships—especially those involving sex, love and marriage—is also why I am such a huge fan of and believer in Tarra Jackson, going back to when I first read her book Financial Fornication: Avoid Financial and Credit Dis-Ease. If genius is the ability to distill complex concepts into a form comprehendible and of practical use to everyone else, then Tarra’s brilliance will be apparent to you as you experience the elegant and immediately actionable simplicity of The 4 Love Languages: The Secrets To Communicating About Money.

The 4 Love Languages has everything that has made me—and so many others—such loyal fans of Tarra “Madam Money” Jackson. First, expertise, backed by both professional and personal experience. This is why Tarra is on my go-to list of top financial educators, whether as a contributor to Black Enterprise, a guest on one of my podcasts or a speaker I’d recommend for a conference or event. You can trust what she has to say.

Second, Tarra always has a fun, unique and memorable style of delivering advice and information that motivates people to actually use it. (Come on. Financial Fornication? How could you not want to pick up that book?!) This is due in no small part to the fact that Tarra herself is both funny and irreverent; her personality and ability to connect with people is perhaps her greatest superpower, and it comes through in her books, her social media interactions, her media appearances and in person.

The truth is, especially when it comes to basic financial choices, the challenge is not showing people what to do—it’s getting them to actually do it. Most people know what to do: pay yourself first, save for emergencies, live within your means. Tarra is in that elite group of financial educators that help people to zero in on why and how to do it. My favorite thing about The 4 Financial Languages is that she not only explains each of the languages, she also provides actual scripts to help you to use the key words to speak and listen for in order to overcome any language barriers between you and your partner, and your ability to have a great relationship—what we call relationships of H.E.R., Honor, Esteem and Respect, in the Grown Zone—and financial happiness and success.

What more can I say, as a person who is passionate about both healthy, loving relationships and financial success? I did not have access to The 4 Financial Languages to help me to navigate financial conversations in my relationships before now—I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Thanks to Tarra, you can do better. If love and money are as important to you as they are to me, you will read and refer to The 4 Love Languages immediately, repeatedly and often—and also make it required reading for anyone you choose to love or who claims to love you.


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