Money Talks, and so should we. Here, powerful women get real about their spending and saving habits.
In the hip-hop world, there’s no such thing as being too extra—and in the late ‘90s, you’d have been hard-pressed to catch Eve on a red carpet sans giant fur, designer sunglasses, and diamonds. In fact, the legendary rapper's first major purchase after becoming famous was—what else?—an oversize, yellow fur. “I always knew that when I got my first big—and I mean big—check, I wanted to take care of my family and get a colorful mink,” says Eve, who currently serves as co-host on The Talk. “I was about 21 when that finally happened, and after I took care of the people at home, I bought [it]. It made me look like Big Bird, but I didn’t give a fuck. My initials were embroidered inside and I loved it.”
While Eve's early public image was one of extravagance, her Philadelphia upbringing was far from flashy. “When I was younger, money was just one of those things that you never had enough of,” she says. “I didn't understand bills or why I couldn’t buy something at a certain time as a kid.” By the time she was a teenager, Eve was determined to pay her own way. “I didn’t want to ask my mom for money all the time, so it became something that I wanted to acquire myself,” she says. “I really looked forward to getting a job as soon as I could.”
But money savvy had to be learned. As soon as Eve lined up a job working retail, she “100 percent blew” her earnings. “I honestly didn't think about saving my money until I was in the [music] business,” she says. “I’m the kind of person who, if I have money, I want to use it to treat the people in my life. So I didn’t even have a legitimate, for-real bank account until I was 18 and got signed.”
After a few monetary missteps due to a business manager gone rogue (more on that below), Eve found her financial footing. “At 39, I'm not as frivolous as I used to be. I definitely love a good shopping situation. But I also know that you need to take care of the shit you need to take care of, like your bills. I make a point of always having reserves.”
She's also grown keenly aware of the impression money can leave on those who don't have it. "Money can bring opportunity, choice, and the ability to help someone who's in a tight situation—but it can also bring out jealousy, greed, and envy," she says. "If you don't appreciate money and you have a ton of it, you can come off as being very ostentatious. Personally, I hate seeing somebody who I know has a ton of money be obnoxious." Eve admits that this realization took time. "I come from hip-hop, so let's be real: we like a lot of shit and we like to show up," she says, laughing. "But I show up in different ways now. I like quality over quantity, and I think that’s come with age."
Below, the rapper and TV personality opens up about learning to negotiate in the male-dominated hip-hop business and that time she picked up the check on a first date (and it went very well).
On her first job… My first job was at this one store on South Street called Gilly Jeans Shoes. Basically, Gilly sold cowboy boots—and for some reason that was huge in Philly. It was a summer job, so I would go to South Street, hang out, and sell boots. Then I worked at another store called Scorpio, where I sold clothes. I was always in retail.
On what changed after her first hit… You start hearing words that you never had to think about before. When you get an accountant, they're like, "You have to pay taxes, but you also need a house so that they don't take so many taxes." Words started coming at me and I was like, "What the fuck? This is deep." When I bought my first house, I didn't buy any furniture. I was so young that I didn't know how to make a home, and I didn't actually care. As long as I had a bed, a refrigerator, a big TV, and a stereo, that was all I cared about. Basically, I did the stuff you have to do to make it look like you're an adult. So I got a home and a car.
On her biggest money mistake… I don't believe in regrets, but one of the biggest mistakes I made wasn't actually a purchase. When you're young, you hire people as your business managers or lawyers, and you just assume that they're going to take care of the things that they're supposed to take care of. I had a business manager at the time who didn't pay my taxes at all for, like, two years—and I didn't find out until I moved on and hired someone new. I had to pay out a chunk of tax money, and it devastated me. Thankfully, I was still at the pinnacle of my career. My second album was about to come out and I was touring constantly, so even though that money got taken, I was able to make it up. But I remember feeling dissuaded and just so sick.
On her biggest splurges… I love bags and shoes. I'm very lucky, because the business managers that I have now are very good. They know me well, and that helps when I communicate with them. Sometimes I’ll say, "Hey guys, I'm thinking of doing this—does it make sense with the bills I have to pay?" Even though it's my money, I want to make sure all the boring shit’s taken care of first. Then I can do the fun stuff.
On having her credit card declined… If anybody says that they haven’t had a card declined, they're lying. It could happen for any reason, whether you didn't transfer money from another card or you didn't check your account balance. It could be that you've reached your limit on your card. That's another thing that I did for myself—or really, my accountants did it—but I put a daily limit on my card
On negotiating… Definitely know your worth and feel your worth. I think we can get caught up sometimes, especially us women. We lose our voice a lot of the time when it comes to negotiation, or we can feel intimidated by it. It is an intimidating thing, but you know what? It's a negotiation, so don't be scared to put something out there. If they come back with something different, okay, but don't be scared to put it out there. You get what you ask for, and you have nothing to lose. Even if you feel like it might be crazy, you might as well find out. I always try it.
On the wage gap… I’ve definitely felt it. I was once on a tour where I wasn't particularly the headliner. I understood that and was okay with it, but I definitely felt like there was an unfair gap. I was kind of co-headlining, and it didn't reflect what I should have been getting. But it was because of the circumstances. There was so much happening and I had already agreed to do it, so I had to basically stick to my word and stick to contract. That was annoying, but it is what it is.
On who deals with the bills at home… My husband's way better at money than I am. He’s amazing, really. I like to do it, but I’m not great at it. I could skip a few months before I'm like, "You know what? I should look at this stuff."
On who’s the big spender in her household… My husband is a big spender, but it’s different because he loves art. His things are art and cars, so I always try to say that his big spending is bigger than my big spending. Mine is like, a dope-ass bag. But it's not the price of that car or that piece of art. So, yeah, it's him.
On splitting the bill when they were dating… I actually paid for our first date. It was my suggestion because he came to see me in the city I was in. We went to a taco place, and I was like, “I can pay for some tacos.” I tease him about it now, because I'm like, "I can't believe I stayed with you after I had to pay for the first date!” I do love to treat him sometimes, though, because he is such a gentleman. It's not like he feels like he has to treat me—it's something he wants to do. But I love when I can surprise him. Having said that, I am old-fashioned in some ways. I’m definitely not the type of chick who would call a new dude again if he took me out on a first date and I had to foot the bill. I think a man should take care of that. But if you're in a relationship, there is nothing wrong with splitting the bill or taking the whole bill. Like, pay for dinner sometimes. There's nothing wrong with that.