Known throughout the United States as ‘The Money Lady’, Suze Orman is the author of nine best selling books on the subject. Named by Time Magazine in 2008 as one of the ‘100 Most Influentional People’ in the world, Orman is the host of her own TV show on CNBC, a popular motivational speaker, and the contributing editor of O The Oprah Magazine. And with the release of the Australia Edition of Women & Money in August 2009, I have no doubt Suze Orman will soon be able to count thousands of Australian women, myself included, among her legion of fans around the world.
Suze Orman’s story is truly inspirational. Born with a speech impediment and unable to read as well as her class mates, Orman struggled through school and then college – dropping out of university before graduation when she was unable to fulfill the language requirement. In 1980 the then 29 year old Orman, was working as a waitress earning just $400 a month and dreaming of opening a restaurant, when something quite extraordinary happened. Upon learning that she was unable to borrow the money she needed to follow her dream, customers at the restaurant where she had waitressed for the past six years, loaned Orman $50,000 to open a restaurant.
On the advice of Fred, the customer who had rallied the other customers to advance the money to Orman, she decided to deposit the money in a money market account. Knowing nothing about money markets, Orman fell victim to an unscrupulous employee at Merill Lynch who had convinced her to invest the money in a high risk investment strategy. Needless to say, when the stock market tanked a short time later, she lost all of the money loaned to her by customers at the restaurant where she was still worked as a waitress.
Feeling like she had let everybody down, Orman complained to Merill Lynch and when they refused to take any action against the rogue employee, she sued them, but not before convincing the financial institution to give her a job. Although her plans for opening a restaurant had gone up in smoke, the experience had taught Orman a valuable lesson, she was capable of much more than she had been doing with her life since leaving college. Eventually she settled with Merill Lych (which was now her employer) and used the settlement to repay all the money loaned to her by those who had shown such faith in her. By 1983 Orman had become a top performing broker at Merill Lynch and a passion for educating others about money was born!
When Suze Orman talks about money it isn’t a dirty word. When I was growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s, I was taught that money was a necessary evil. I knew I needed money to survive, but I also felt that I had to keep it at a distance or risk becoming ‘corrupted’ by it. I grew up poor and I remained poor well into adulthood, and like many others, I still have a somewhat dysfunctional relationship with money to this day. We’ve all heard the cliché ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ but I can tell you from personal experience, poverty only breeds misery. So when I read ‘nothing more directly affects your happiness than money‘, on page 14 of Women & Money, I was hooked!
From birth, women are socialised to put the wants and needs of others before themselves. When we enter the workforce we undervalue the work that we do. Whether negotiating a wage increase, running a business, or managing a household as a stay-at-home mum, women often grossly undervalue the contribution they make to the world. Even when we discover our true worth to the company or the household, we lack the confidence to ask for fair compensation.
Orman says women have to realise that they are ‘not on sale’ and encourages all of us to “Set your value, communicate that value to the outside world, and then not settle for less” because the truth is, if we do not value ourselves, neither will our employers, our customers, or our partners.
Whether you are single, married, divorced, every woman needs to educate herself about money and take control of her own financial destiny. Although there are some valid reasons for the lower economic status of women, it is within the power of every woman to change her financial destiny. To help us on our merry way, Orman has developed ‘The Save Yourself Plan’, a five month program that promises to deliver long-term financial security. From savings accounts, to credit cards, to superannuation and more, ‘The Money Lady’ will be your guide towards financial security.