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Achieve financial peace of mind with the million-copy #1 New York Times bestseller, now revised and updated, featuring an entirely new Financial Empowerment Plan and a bonus chapter on investing.
The time has never been more right for women to take control of their finances. The lessons, revelations, and shocks of the past few years have made it clear that standing in our truth is the only way to care for ourselves, our families, and our finances.
With her signature mix of insight, compassion, and practical advice, Suze equips women with the financial knowledge and emotional awareness to overcome the blocks that have kept them from acting in the best interest of their money—and themselves. Whether you are single or in a committed relationship, a successful professional, a worker struggling to make ends meet, a stay-at-home parent, or a creative soul, Suze offers the possibility of living a life of true wealth, a life in which you own the power to control your destiny.
At the center of this fully revised and updated edition, Suze presents an all-new Financial Empowerment Plan, designed to get you to a place of emotional and financial security as quickly as possible—because the most precious commodity women have is time. Divided into four essential components, the plan will teach you how to
• Protect yourself • Spend smart • Build your future • Give to others
Also included is a bonus chapter on investing—for those who are living by Suze’s unbreakable financial ground rules and ready to learn how to invest with confidence.
Women & Money speaks to every mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, and wife. It gives readers the opportunity to tap into Suze’s unique spirit, people-first wisdom, and unparalleled appreciation that for women, money itself is not the end goal. It’s the means to living a full and meaningful life.
Under the Cover
An excerpt from Women & Money (Revised and Updated)
When Women & Money was first published it was my eighth book. All my previous books were written with the belief that gender is not a factor on any level in mastering the nuts and bolts of smart financial management. Women can invest, save, and handle debt just as well and skillfully as any man. I still believe that—why would anyone think differently?
So imagine my surprise when I learned that some of the people closest to me in my life were in the dark about their own finances. Clueless. Or, in some cases, willfully resisting doing what they knew needed to be done. I’m talking about smart, competent, accomplished women who present a face to the world that is pure confidence and capability. Do you mean to tell me that I, Suze Orman, who make my living solving the financial problems of total strangers, couldn’t spot the trouble brewing so close to home? I don’t think I’m blind; I just think that these women became very, very good at hiding their troubles from me. Why not? They had years of practice hiding them from themselves.
It began with a friend, a very high-powered business-woman who handles millions and millions of dollars a year, who refused to sign will and trust documents I’d helped her prepare. I can’t tell you why, but those papers sat on her desk for three years—she clearly had some kind of block that prevented her from simply signing her name and having the documents notarized. Then another friend, a woman with some amazing professional credentials, broke down and confessed that she had rung up such staggering bills over the years that she was too terrified to tell anyone and had no idea how to pay them o . Not long after, I heard from yet another friend, who had finally woken up to the fact that her employer was paying her significantly less than every other executive of comparable rank in her company. Her division was one of the most profitable and consistent earners for the company, but still she just accepted the minimal increases her boss would hand her every year at review time.
Upon further investigation, I learned that so many women in my life—friends, acquaintances, readers, people who’d been fans of my TV show and appearances—all had this stumbling block in common: an “unknown factor” that prevented them from doing the right thing with their money.
Do you find yourself identifying with some of these emotions and actions? My experience is that if you are honest you will answer yes, and there are many reasons why you are choosing to hold yourself back.
Maybe it is your fear of the unknown; maybe precisely because you hold it together in every other part of your life you have a little streak of rebellion when it comes to money; or maybe you just feel that things have gotten so far out of hand you are embarrassed to ask for help and reveal just how much you don’t know.
What is important to understand is that this stumbling block is exhibited not only by women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s but by women of all ages. Can I just act my age for a moment? I am 67 years old. I have lived through the transformation of women’s roles at home, in society, and in the workplace. When I am with women in their 20s and 30s, what I love the most is that you aren’t asking for equality; you expect it. You aren’t doubting your talents relative to men; you know you’ve got what it takes. You seek relationships for their emotional possibilities, not their economic practicality. You don’t need to be convinced of your worth; you own it. Loud and proud. Amazing.
Now, here’s what I don’t love: Like your mothers, aunts, and grandmothers, you share with me how confused and powerless you are with your money. You refuse to get involved with your money until some crisis occurs, and then you act out of fear.
Women of all ages have the horrible habit of thinking money is just too complicated to master. You give up without even trying. You could not be more wrong. It is not a question of intelligence. You absolutely have what it takes to understand what you should be doing.
A book with the title Women & Money must begin with the story of how far women have come financially. It’s not only a remarkable tale of social progress, it’s a reminder for us that changes that take place on a personal level, every day in small doses, add up to dramatic societal and cultural shifts over time.
Women today make up nearly half of the total work-force in this country. Over the past 40 years, women’s earnings have more than quadrupled. Women in the U.S. are the decision makers for about 40 percent of invested money; that works out to more than $11 trillion. Yes, trillion. Fifty-one percent of all professional and managerial-level workers are women. Women bring in half or more of the income in the majority of U.S. households. Women-owned businesses make up nearly 40 percent of all companies in the United States. There are more women than ever before who can count themselves among the country’s millionaires, more women in upper management.
We have a right to be proud of our progress. I am so honored to witness this revolution in my lifetime. I only wish it told the whole truth.
Now, would you like to hear the other side of the story? Sixty percent of women worry about not having enough money to last through retirement. Five years ago nearly half of women surveyed were still expressing concern that they might run out of money and become homeless in retirement. Another survey reports that just one in five women say they are confident they can make smart financial choices. Nearly one-third of women expect Social Security to be their primary source of income in retirement, yet the typical monthly payout is less than $1,400. Did you know the poverty rate for women at least 65 years old is 40 percent higher than the rate for males?
For years now, I have been in the privileged position of talking to thousands of women a year. I hear, see, and feel your fears, insecurities, and troubles, very often firsthand, and I have come face-to-face with this painful truth: For all the advancements that women have made in the past 40 years—and without a doubt they are remarkable accomplishments—I am stunned by how little has really changed in the way so many women deal with money. There are huge disconnects at play here—between what we know and how we act; between what we think and what we say; between our ability as achievers and our financial under-achieving; between how we present ourselves to the world and how we really feel about ourselves inside; between what we deserve in our lives and what we resign ourselves to; between the power we have within reach and the powerlessness that rules our actions.
In 1980, when I was hired as a financial advisor for Mer-rill Lynch, I was one of the few women in the Oakland, California, office. In the eyes of my (male) boss, that made me the perfect candidate to work with all the women who walked through the door. Back then, women who came to a brokerage firm looking for financial advice had, for the most part, inherited money, received it in a divorce, been widowed, or suddenly been thrust into a position of helping their parents handle their money. In only a few instances had women come in with money they’d made on their own. No matter the circumstances that brought them to the brokerage firm, they all had the same reason for being there: They did not want the responsibility of managing their money. I always felt they hired me simply to babysit their money for them.
Nearly 40 years later, the story is often much the same. Regardless of the gains in our financial status, I know and you know that many women still don’t want to take responsibility when it comes to their money. Yes, women are making more money than ever before, but they are not making more of what they make. What do I mean by that? Your retirement money sits in cash because you haven’t figured out how to invest it properly, so you do nothing. You’ve convinced yourself that you’ll be working forever, so the value of each paycheck becomes meaningless—after all, there will always be another one. Your closet houses the wardrobe of a powerful and stylish woman, but the dirty secret is that your credit cards are maxed out and you don’t know how you’re going to pay them off. But it’s not just about saving and investing. It’s about not asking for a raise at work when you know you are being undervalued. It’s about the fear and loathing you feel when it’s time to pay the bills every month because you don’t know exactly what you have, where it’s going, and why there isn’t more left when it’s all said and done. It’s about how you berate yourself all the time for not knowing more and doing more . . . yet you stay resigned to this feeling of helplessness and despair as time ticks away.
This problem, in my opinion, is enormous and pervasive and universal. It crosses all ages, all races, all tax brackets. Who can deny the fact that there is a fundamental block at work here that is preventing women from becoming as powerful as they are meant to be? Not me. I would be the first one to tell you that everything you need to know to secure your financial future, to educate yourself, to make your life easy—it’s all out there. Yours for the asking. But you don’t ask; you don’t want to know.
I see this fundamental denial, this resistance, in so many women, no matter what they do, how they live, or where they are in their lives. I see you literally giving your money away rather than dealing with it. I see stay-at-home moms who work 24 hours a day and yet hand over all power and control to their husbands because they don’t earn the money. I see successful single women who refuse to focus on what they need to do today to ensure their financial security years from now. I see women in second marriages who fail to protect the assets they accumulated before they remarried and who feel uncomfortable bringing up money issues with their new husbands. I see divorced women of all ages who go into full-blown panic mode when faced with the reality that they have no clue what money exists, what to do when they get their share of the settlement, and whether they will be able to maintain their lifestyle post- divorce. And the most heartbreaking of them all? I hear older women use words like powerless and worthless to describe themselves. These women are filled with regret when it comes to the way they’ve lived their financial lives.
So why do you all do this to yourselves? Why are you voluntarily committing financial suicide, and doing it with a smile on your face?
Let me put it another way: Why is it that women who are so competent in all other areas of their lives cannot find the same competence when it comes to matters of money?
I have asked this question—of myself and others—over and over. Of course, there is no one answer. After much contemplation, here is what I have come up with: The matter of women and money is clearly a complicated issue that has much to do with our history and traditions, both societal and familial. These deep-seated issues are major hurdles to overcome, major tides to turn—and that doesn’t happen overnight. It can take generations to effect change of this magnitude in our daily behavior. We’ll explore these issues in greater depth in the chapters ahead, because they are absolutely a root cause of this problem. But we’ll have to look at this on a behavioral level, too, since traits that are fundamental to our nature clearly affect how we approach money as well.
Consider this: It’s a generally accepted belief that nurturing comes as a basic instinct to women. We give of our-elves; we take care of our family, our friends, our colleagues. It’s in our nature to nurture. Our inner nurturer reigns supreme.
But we don’t take care of our money as well as we take care of spouses, partners, children, pets, plants, and whatever else is in our lives that we love and cherish. Why?
I want you to think about that question. The answer is critical to uncovering what is at work here and what is holding you back. So I’ll ask it again: Why don’t we show our money the same care and attention that we shower on every other important relationship in our lives?
Because we don’t have a relationship with our money.
Correction: We do have a relationship with our money. It’s just a totally dysfunctional one.
What holds you back is that you simply won’t bring yourself to take care of yourself financially, especially if those actions compete with taking care of those you love. You do for everyone before you do for yourself.
Your nature is to nurture. You take care of everyone before you take care of yourself. Your kids, your parents, your spouse, your siblings, your colleagues, your pets. Everyone gets your full attention.
No matter how good your intentions may be, they are nonetheless draining you.
The challenge is to finally learn—and accept—that to be truly powerful in your life requires making money moves that work for you. You are never powerful in life until you are powerful with money. Now, I am not suggesting you replace nurturer with narcissist. I do not want you to discard your generosity or shed your supportive and kind nature. This book is not about becoming more by becoming more selfish. Far from it. I simply want you to give to yourself as much as you give of yourself. I want you to think about financial self-care.
So, then, let’s turn this relationship theory around and ask ourselves the following question: In order to become competent and successful in handling our money, in order to become the fully responsible women we know we should be, what is required of us?
We have to develop a healthy, honest relationship with our money. And we have to see this relationship as a reflection of our relationship with ourselves.
I can’t put it any more simply or emphatically: How we behave toward our money, how we treat our money, speaks volumes about how we perceive and value ourselves. If we aren’t powerful with money, we aren’t powerful period. What is at stake here is not just money—it’s far bigger. This is about your sense of who you are and what you deserve. Lasting net worth comes only when you have a healthy and strong sense of self-worth. And, right now, the money disconnect—this dysfunctional relationship—is a barrier to both.
Once you fully appreciate this and hold it as an absolute truth, you will also understand that your destiny depends on the health of this relationship. Are you honestly prepared to roll the dice on this one? Or would you rather feel that you have the ability, the determination, the power, to make this relationship work—as surely as you know how to nurture and give care to all the people you love in your life?
How do you repair this relationship?
The same way you would repair any relationship that is damaged: by acknowledging your mistakes, taking responsibility, and resolving to act in a way that will bring about change for the better. In the case of you and your money, that means making smart and strong money moves, moves with the goal of making you feel more powerful and secure. If you show money the respect it deserves today and carry that through in all your actions, then one day, when you can no longer take care of it, your money will take care of you. Respecting your relationship with money, you see, is the key not only to your security and independence, but to your happiness as well.
Now let’s talk about happiness for a moment.
The simple fact is that nothing more directly affects your happiness than money. Oh, I know, some of you are just horrified by this notion, maybe even offended. Suze, how could you? Happiness is about all the things money can’t buy—health, love, respect—right? Absolutely true—all of these are essential to a happy life. All are determined by who you are and not what you have. But the kind of happiness I am talking about is your quality of life—the ability to enjoy life, to live life to its fullest potential. And I challenge anyone to tell me that such things aren’t factors in your overall happiness.
Let’s just walk through this together. Yes, I know that your health and the health of your loved ones is paramount, but explain to me what would happen if, God forbid, any one of you fell ill. Wouldn’t you want the best care that money can buy? Wouldn’t you be grateful that you were in a good health plan? And isn’t it money that puts the roof over your head, and money that allows you to move to a neighborhood with a great public school system? And money that allows you to retire early, or quit your job when you go back to school to pursue a new career?
In a survey I saw called “Authentic Happiness” there was not a single question or answer that contained the word money. Why is it that we are so reluctant to embrace the notion that money is a factor in determining our happiness? What bothers me about this is that I think it’s a lie not to acknowledge the power that money has to make our lives better and happier. It’s not a subject for polite company? Is that what you’ve been raised to believe? Well, I’m here to tell you that this isn’t just a problem of semantics. I believe that this “conspiracy of silence” is another reason why so many women are in the dark about financial matters. I have often said that we must be careful of our words, for words become actions. Well, the opposite of that is true, too: Silence leads to inaction. We don’t talk about money with our friends, our parents, our children. In a 2015 survey, four out of five women said they have a hard time talking about money with someone they are close to. Many of those women said it was just too personal. Seriously? You can dish and confide in your besties, you can overshare on social media, but talking about money is taboo—it’s too personal? That’s where we get in trouble. How are we supposed to teach our children, how are we supposed to educate ourselves, if there isn’t a free and frank flow of information about money? Why do we behave so carelessly with our money? Would we do that if we believed our very happiness depended on it? Let me put it this way: If we persist in denying money its place in our lives, if we don’t give it the respect it most certainly deserves, then it will surely lead to unhappiness.
I am asking you now to harness the incredible intelligence and competence that serve you so well in all the other aspects of your life and apply it to your money. Anyone who has it in them to run a household, run a company, run a department of a company, run a carpool, or run a marathon is fully equipped to take control here. Anyone who is a supportive and caring wife, partner, mother, sister, daughter, best friend, caretaker, aunt, grandmother, or colleague has all the skills necessary to forge a solid relationship with money and make the kind of smart money choices that will support rather than sabotage you. That’s what it means to be smart, strong, and secure: knowing what to do and what not to do—and having the conviction and confidence to go out and do it. Not just think about it. Or intend to do it next week or next month. To actually do it. Right now.
Make that commitment to yourself first, and I will help you. And together, let’s imagine what’s possible when you do:
Imagine: What it feels like to be freed from the self-doubt that holds you down. Imagine: Knowing that when you are more powerful with your money, you will have even more energy to flood your communities with your intelligence and generosity. Imagine: Opening the credit card bill each month and knowing you will be able to pay it off. Imagine: Knowing you have done everything to take care of your family if something happens to you. Imagine: Staying in a relationship purely for love, not because you have no idea how you would make it financially on your own. Imagine: Loving yourself enough to choose a partner you don’t have to rescue. Imagine: Owning your home outright—no more mortgage payments. Imagine: Knowing you will be able to retire comfortably one day. Imagine: Raising children who’ve learned from you the wisdom of living within your means, rather than living out of control. Imagine: Knowing you have helped your parents live full lives, without fear or uncertainty, right to the end.
The thought of more powerful and con dent women on the loose in our country makes me so hopeful. The payoff for your commitment will extend beyond your finances. Having a healthy relationship with money puts you in a position to have better relationships with everyone in your life. It all flows together. A woman who is more financially confident and secure is a happier woman. And a happier woman is going to be better able to nurture, share, and give support to all those in her life.
Suze Orman is a two-time Emmy Award–winning television host, #1 New York Times bestselling author, magazine and online columnist, writer/producer, and one of the top motivational speakers in the world today. Orman has written nine consecutive New York Times bestsellers and has written, co-produced, and hosted seven PBS specials based on her books. She is the seven-time Gracie Award–winning host of The Suze Orman Show, which airs on CNBC. She is also a contributing editor to O: The Oprah Magazine. Twice named one of the “Time 100,” Time magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people, and named by Forbes as one of the 100 most powerful women, Orman was the recipient of the National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign. In 2009 she received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in 2010 she received an honorary doctor of commercial science from Bentley University. Orman, a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, directed the Suze Orman Financial Group from 1987 to 1997, served as Vice President—Investments for Prudential Bache Securities from 1983 to 1987, and was an account executive at Merrill Lynch from 1980 to 1983. Prior to that, she worked as a waitress at the Buttercup Bakery in Berkeley, California, from 1973 to 1980.