At least once or twice a day, I peruse finance.yahoo.com to quickly peruse the latest in financial news – especially to see what’s trending in personal finance. This particular post, “How this celebrity couple bounced back from bankruptcy,” caught my attention not because of the title (some celebrity or another is always declaring bankruptcy it seems), but because of the couple in question: The actor and comedian, Flex Alexander, and his wife, the R&B singer, Shanice.
Perhaps if I had cable, I would have known about their reality-tv series on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Their show, “Flex and Shanice,” debuted this month and chronicles their financial comeback. But I don’t have cable. So the Yahoo post was the first I heard about their story of going from earning approximately $1.3 million a year – for about five years – to losing their home to foreclosure.
The article and a video interview I found promoting their show revealed one of the things I talk about in my book, “Financial Intimacy” – the issue of proximity and perspective. It is a combination that can be so insidious when it comes to your relationship with money and how you manage it.
Often, you’re too close to see what’s coming your way and about to hit you like a ton of bricks.
Your financial reality is changing right before your eyes – in a not so good way. But by the time you notice what’s unfolding, you’ve lost the chance to get ahead of the situation to react proactively.
I really appreciated the thoughtful and measured way Flex and Shanice came to the conclusion to do a (financial) reality show. And, I love their goal of sharing the lessons learned from their journey of financial hardship to financial recovery as a way to help others.
Unlike some celebrities whom you feel just tell their “dirt” because they’ve bought into the idea that any publicity is better than none, I didn’t get that sense from Flex and Shanice. From the 11-minute video clip, I loved “seeing” how they had/have each other’s back — you can tell they were/are in this thing together.
I am known for saying money is an under-utilized communication tool. It’s also a very humbling tool, too.
As “Hollywood” couples go, they didn’t live over-the-top. But everything is relative, right? What Flex made in a month when his show was on the air, some people (barely) make in a year. He talked about money flowing and making $25,000 a week. However, they didn’t adjust their lifestyle when the rhythm of their financial inflow slowed. Shanice talked about being a child star and how others always took care of everything – first her mother/manager, and then Flex. So, she was slightly in the dark about how dire their financial situation was.
With just these two snippets they’re already teaching, by example, one of the behaviors money demands of us: pay attention!
As I continued watching their video, I couldn’t help but think of Shira Boss’ book, “Green With Envy.” A great book about the financial lives we lead and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. As well as the stories we tell ourselves about what’s going on in other people’s lives. (Hint: it’s not always what it looks like!)
This came to mind when Flex mentioned feeling embarrassed, ashamed, and guilty – reasons that also made him a little weary of going public in such a public way. Granted, you may not have had to declare bankruptcy, but have you made a financial blunder that makes you shrink just a little bit when you think about it? I know I have.
I’d be curious to know how intentional the producer’s were in deciding to debut the show right before the holiday season. If it wasn’t intentional, it was a brilliant accident! Because this is the time of year when a lot of muck comes up for people, in general, and about money, in particular. And if you’re feeling bad or disenchanted, this time of year certainly doesn’t help.
A show about making mistakes, forgiveness, partnership, teamwork, dedication (to each other and the goal of getting your financial house in order), humor, redemption, starting over, faith, reinvention and having a plan of action, certainly gets my vote.
Congratulations to Flex and Shanice for saying, in essence, to hell with money shame! I’m cheering for them, excited about what they’re teaching their audience via their bounce-back, grateful that what’s personal is also almost always universal…and am hoping I can catch episodes online!