Wednesday, February 11, 2009

If You Knew Suze Like We Know Suze

Orman is that most modern breed of capitalists, the human-industry, self-mythologizing. "Suze has a unique grasp of the role money plays in our lives, as well as the gift of timing: she tells us exactly what we need to know, precisely when we need to know it." So, at least, claims the jacket copy of one of her books. She addresses her fans either as "my friends" (learned from John McCain, perhaps?) or as "girlfriend." Although she published a comprehensive—and very useful—guide to personal finance in 2001, her first two best-sellers focused on the "emotional roadblocks" to financial freedom. Suze has a lot to say about emotional roadblocks, among other things: "Falling in love is simple—or so it often seems in retrospect"; "Tears are God's way of forgiving you"; "You will never achieve a sense of power over your life until you have power over your money"; and "The stock market is like a pot of soup."
She has less patience for statistics. Although study after study has shown that personal bankruptcies are caused primarily by catastrophic events like divorce, job loss, and, above all, medical bills and that most of us are struggling with a gap between our income growth and the soaring cost of necessities like housing, Suze tends toward psychological causes that invariably blame the victim. Who is struggling these days, according to Suze? "People who grew up without much money and later earn a comfortable living sometimes spend too much to make up for what they didn't get as children. ... People who feel entitled to the good life, or are unconsciously copying a mother or father who lived beyond her or his means. ... If you feel the need to impress people with what you have rather than with who you are, you are at high risk for credit card abuse." This from a woman who spends $500,000 a year chartering private jets and who sells "Cruise With Suze" packages on an Italian luxury liner. (She has also hawked for GM, claiming that leasing a luxury car—you know, the kind that people drive to impress others—is a terrific financial decision: "If you ask me, that's smart money!") No wonder she winks more than Sarah Palin, girlfriend.

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