We talk with Suze Orman, author of Women & Money, about why, in A Woman's Nation, women must take control of their finances.
How do women spend, save and manage money differently from men?
Women have the ability to give birth and to feed their offspring. Our nature is to nurture. So women -- more than men -- think that the role of money is to take care of everybody else before themselves. Women need to be reminded to take care of themselves first. In the nine years that I’ve been doing The Suze Orman Show, I can count on two fingers the men who have called in to say they cosigned a loan for somebody. I don’t have enough hairs on my little body to tell you the number of times a woman has called in to say she has cosigned a loan for somebody – and they’re not paying it. She doesn’t have the money to pay it for them, and she doesn’t know what to do.
The problem with women and money is not that they do not have the intelligence to save, earn and invest money. It is that women do not understand that money is there for their own survival. Then a woman is forced to take care of herself financially at the age of 50 or 55 when her husband has died, she’s gotten divorced or something has gone wrong. She’s left powerless and penniless, and she’s gotten no one to blame but herself.
The reason corporations let men go before women is women refuse to ask for the pay raises, the job promotions and the extended vacations that they deserve. And the corporate heads know it. Women put themselves on sale. They will not ask for what they’re worth.
What advice do you have for female breadwinners?
My advice is -- 1.) Don’t put yourself on sale. 2.) Don’t blame others for the fact that you feel there may be a glass ceiling. What have you done to keep getting paid less? 3.) Be very careful of the true dynamics that are going on with the person that you’re with. Money is an extraordinary, powerful dynamic. You have got to reject the idea that power goes with the one who makes the most money. You have got to be involved with more than the household finances. You must be involved with everything – investments, the IRAs, the mortgage, insurance and all of that.
The most amazing thing happened to me was when I was writing Women & Money. I interviewed a woman who wrote this book about why women are different biologically from men. She could name every molecule in the body. But when I asked her, “So – who manages the money in your household?” She said, “Oh my boyfriend. When it comes to money, I can’t deal with it.” She’s written books about what makes a woman powerful, and yet, knowing everything that she does about power, she gave up 100% of her power when it came to money.
How can we pass on good money management strategies to the next generation of women?
Instill in your daughters the ability to say the word “No.” Your daughters define who they are. They define the things around them. The things around them will never define who they are. Instill in your daughters that it is okay to have self-respect. It is okay to put yourself first. They don’t have to go through life saying, “It’s okay, I’m fine.” They need to say what’s true. They need to ask for what they want.
Are people intimidated by women with money?
People love me. It’s an amazing thing. Women love that I am a powerful woman who says it like it is. They are living vicariously through me. Women want a role model they can relate to. Power with money only exists in the upper echelons, where only a few hundred thousand can see it. We need to show the face of success that the rest of women can become.
It’s a very fascinating thing -- this whole evolution of A Women’s Nation. It’s one thing to make money – a whole other thing for women to want to take control of it. Women need a role model. We have to help one another.
Suze Orman is a two-time Emmy Award-winning television host, New York Times mega bestselling author, magazine and online columnist, writer/producer, and one of the top motivational speakers in the world today. In July 2009 Forbes named Orman 18th on their list of The Most Influential Women In Media, and in May 2009 Orman was named for the second year in a row as one of the TIME 100, The world's most Influential People. Learn more at www.suzeorman.com.
Suze Orman is a member of the Advisory Committee of The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything.
Photo by Marc Royce.