She is the finance guru whose résumé includes popular television shows, several best-selling books and a diverse portfolio of finan-cial resources. But don’t think Suze Orman juggles it all at one time.
“I believe multitasking is the ruination of perfection,” says the money expert whose latest endeavor is her own prepaid debit MasterCard, The Approved Card. Orman, who was born on the South Side of Chicago, is now a multimillionaire who has “seen it all” financially. The straightforward advisor notes that in today’s challenging times, the unemployment rate in the Black community is almost double that of the national average. “[There are] many people living in poverty today [through] no fault of their own,” she says. “They lost their cars. They lost their homes. They lost everything. Why? Because they lost their jobs.”
There are also those of us who have money woes simply because we aren’t good stewards of our money. Whatever the case may be, Orman says there is no financial situation so bad that it can’t be fixed. She shares with EBONY five money tips, some of which are in the updated version of her New York Times No. 1 best-seller, The Money Class.
1. Stand in Your Truth “In [many] African-American families, when one person starts to succeed and starts to make money, [he or she] tends to [want to give] money [to relatives]. The problem with that is, [he or she has] $25,000 of debt on credit cards [and is] barely making it but gives $300 or $400 a month to the family.“Tell [your family and friends], ‘I’ve been putting this on my credit card because I just wanted to help you, but I can’t help you anymore because I don’t have any money.’”
2. Live Below Your Means but Within Your Needs Stop spending money you don’t have to please people you don’t like, Orman says, explaining what it means to find this financial balance. “‘Below your means’ is making a commitment not to spend every last dollar you take home. ‘Within your needs’ requires that you make a clear-eyed assessment of what exactly you are putting in that category.”
3. Face It to Erase It Orman suggests facing your financial situation head-on. This means knowing how much you make, how much you owe and to whom you owe it. Orman says in The Money Class, “Know your FICO score. If it’s below 700, you have some work to do. ... You have just taken a giant step toward getting honest. Do not panic. Do not beat yourself up and do not give up. Making those num-bers ‘work’ for you, is in fact the basis [for your financial future].”
4. Talk About How Much Money You’re Making Discussing how much you make brings about healthy dialogue and confidence to ask for raises or other monetary benefits. “Rather than operating in this secret, silent tomb of money . . . start to give a voice to who we are and what we have. Some-times you are being so underpaid for the job that you are doing. Someone who’s sitting in the cube next to you [could be doing] half of what you do, making twice as much, and you don’t know that because we don’t talk about money.”
5. Beware of Quick Financial Fixes Orman says that many quick fixes, such as payday loans, aren’t just loans that accumulate interest; instead, they roll over every 30 days and become new loans. For this reason, she says, it’s better to stop the costly cycle before it begins. “Your payday loan outlet has got to be x-ed out of your [financial] options. If you are in a situation where you have a bill that you need to pay, it is better not to pay the bill at all than to take a payday loan to pay [it].”
Read more in the April 2012 issue of EBONY Magazine!