"Happily ever after" doesn’t always mean financially ever after. But for America’s favorite reality TV couple, Lauren Speed and Cameron Hamilton, it does—though not from a lack of effort. The Hamiltons, who met from behind a wall, went to Mexico, and then got married all on a little hit show called Love Is Blind, are completely transparent with each other when it comes to their finances.
“There is no way that the financial organization in a relationship emerges out of nowhere. It requires deliberate, intentional conversations,” says renowned relationship therapist Esther Perel.
The couple teamed up with the best-selling author and host of the podcast Where Should We Begin? for SoFi’s “Financially Ever After” Twitter Live event where they got real about having the dreaded “money talk” with your S.O.—and why it doesn’t have to be. Brides got to hang with the Hamiltons, remotely of course, to pick their brain about all things love and money and how you could find yourself on the Emmy-nominated Netflix series where they found love.
During the Twitter Live with SoFi you guys talked about joint accounts. At what point did you two make one, and did you put any guidelines in place for that account?
Lauren Speed: We actually didn’t start a joint account right when we were married—we waited until about a year into the marriage. We try to put money in a joint account at the top of each month to make sure that all the bills are paid and take care of the house expenses.
Cameron Hamilton: The idea behind the joint account was to create an account where we could pay for our bills, our mortgage, utilities, groceries, home improvement projects, and everything we share together. We just felt like it made sense to contribute to that equally and because we're living together and work as a team, especially now because we're doing more work together.
When did you disclose your salaries to each other? How did that conversation go?
Cameron: I feel like we discussed it fairly early in our relationship. Even probably before we were married. I don't think it's anything to really hide. I couldn't see a reason to hide it.
We're married. We work together a lot. … [Money's] not a secret with us.
Lauren: Well, before we got married when we were filming the show, one of the things that we talked about was money, bills, and salaries (which didn't make the show). At the time, Cam was heavy into his corporate artificial intelligence work and I was a freelance artist, so, of course, our salaries were a little different back then [laughs]. But I don’t feel like it's something to hide. We're married. We work together a lot. Even when we do separate jobs sometimes, we share. It's not a secret with us.
Any advice for partners who haven’t had “the money talk” yet?
Cameron: I would say the biggest thing is just to do it. Make the leap of faith that it's going to be okay to talk about it. The longer you wait, it's probably going to be more uncomfortable. But you have to accept that there's going to be at least some level of uncomfortableness talking about it.
Lauren: Especially if you’re living together or married. I feel like it's important because at that point, even if one person is handling all the bills, you want to at least know that they're good at handling the bills. I just don't like to walk into situations blind except for the show, Love Is Blind, [laughs] which is kind of funny. I just want to be aware. I don't want any surprises.
Cameron: Yeah, even talking about outstanding debt can be an important conversation if you're building a life together. Finances are a critical part of it; something we all can't ignore. Even if someone has a good job, maybe they have a lot of debt. You don't know until you have that discussion.
Lauren: I feel like when you marry a person, you're literally marrying everything about them. You're marrying their family, their personality, their financial habits, sometimes even their eating habits because you're eating together. You're becoming one unit, so that includes finances.
I feel like when you marry a person, you're literally marrying everything about them. … You're becoming one unit, so that includes finances.
Money has all types of stereotypes attached to it, including cultural and race-related stereotypes. As an interracial couple, what are your thoughts on race-related financial stereotypes?
Lauren: I think it’s a well-known stereotype that some people feel like most Black people come from poor areas and they don't have as much money. It’s such a stereotype because there are definitely wealthy Black folks. Okay! [laughs]
Or there’s the “all white folks are born into wealth” stereotype. But that didn't come into play with Cam and I at all. We both had functioning lives that were already going on and happening successfully in their own way.
Cameron: I don't think any of that played a factor in the financial aspect of our relationship.
Lauren: A stereotype is just that. It’s not true at all.
Do you ever get tired of the “interracial couple questions”? I know I just asked one, but do you think interracial couples are over-hyped or fetishized?
Lauren: I think that especially at a time like right now, when there's so much going on with race relations in the country and with Cam and I being like this couple thrust into the forefront of things, in a lot of ways it’s expected. For me, at first, it was kind of like, “Okay, guys, we're more than just the interracial couple”, but I feel like with the temperature of time, I don't mind speaking out on it. I feel like in a lot of ways it's almost our fate to be right in this situation where we are and to be able to speak comfortably about a man and a woman from two different racial backgrounds who are living in a healthy relationship and in love with each other and how we're functioning. So, I don't have a problem with that at all.
Cameron: You mentioned the fetishizing of interracial relationships, and yeah, we see some of that on YouTube with some of the couples channels. But I didn't fall in love with Lauren because she's Black. She didn't fall in love with me because I'm white. But I really love and appreciate her Blackness. Aspects of her that have to do with her Black culture, her Black identity—I appreciate those things about her. And, you know, it's just one more component of her that gives the richness of her personality. It's one important component amongst many other important components. I appreciate being in a position where I can show my love for her as a Black woman.
Lauren: As a Black queen! [laughs]
I applied for the New York casting call for Love Is Blind recently, before I found out that I would be talking to you two. Any tips for getting chosen by showrunners for those interested in applying? What did you guys put on your applications?
Cameron: Well for me, they reached out without me ever applying. Someone recommended me to them. I don't know who or how or why, but they did. And in terms of getting, selected my advice would be the cliche, “be yourself.” By that I mean be willing to be vulnerable, even in those early casting interviews. Don’t try to front with what you expect them to want. Just be really honest about who you are.
Lauren: Yeah, just speak your truth and live your truth and just roll around and relish in that!
So, if I get a call what would be the next steps in the process? What did you guys have to do?
Lauren: A psych evaluation because they make sure that everyone's, you know, on their rocker [laughs], which is good. So that and then a Skype interview.
Cameron: Rounds of Skype interviews! A lot of dating questionnaires and personality tests. I mean, it's not for the faint of heart because it was a pretty long testing process. Probably three, four months, maybe five.
Sheesh! Well, if you see me on the show next season, remember you heard it here first. [laughs]