I love Suze Orman for so many reasons. Seriously, I do.
I'm telling you: There is nothing like watching a "Suze smackdown" on Oprah, when she scolds hapless viewers for spending their spare cash on lattes at Starbucks
Even if you don't have the same fondness for Suze that I do, she is most likely richer than you are. And not that money is everything -- even Suze says, "People First, Then Money, Then Things." But I've been thinking about why Suze Orman is richer than me, and I have a few ideas that could help all of us improve our financial standing.
Midnight run to Taco Bell
It's true – Suze Orman is a fan of Yum! Brands
Now, Suze could afford to eat anywhere she wants, but she chooses Taco Bell because she lives within her means. She unabashedly admits on national television that she loves cheap, greasy food, and she doesn't care what you think about it. She's not looking to impress other people through her spending habits, even though she could. I've heard Jim Cramer mention his love for Darden Restaurant's
Energizer bunny or workaholic?
Maybe I'm just a TV junkie, but everywhere I turn, I see Suze. She has own her own show on Saturday nights, of course. In the last month or so, I've seen Suze on Anderson Cooper's AC360, Larry King Live, and 20/20. Then, there's her frequent Oprah appearances and her monthly advice in Oprah's O! Magazine. And she just launched her newest book to help folks through the financial crisis.
So, while you're taking it on the chin this year, Suze is raking in the dough by increasing her workload. Now, if you're an Average Joe or Jane, it's not so easy to bump the pay in your 9-to-5 job, especially as layoffs loom everywhere. But what if you decided to consult or freelance on the side? Dave Ramsey (another one of my personal finance favorites) tells his callers to get pizza delivery jobs to make extra money.
OK, I know what you're thinking -- you have a full-time job, and you don't have the time or energy to find more work to do. But what if you started your own small business where you controlled your own destiny? You don't have to launch Microsoft
Isn't $6 million per year enough?
I have to admit that I was surprised to hear Suze admit to 20/20's Elizabeth Vargas that she made close to $6 million last year. Really, I thought she made a lot more than that. Even more interesting, Suze also said that her goal is to make $10 million in 2009.
That would be a 67% increase in pay if Suze reaches it, which is aggressive by any stretch of the imagination, but especially during today's economic climate, when companies from Caterpillar
You can't afford it!
If you've never seen Suze's "Can You Afford It?" segment, well, it's one reason to stay in on a Saturday night (besides the fact that we're in a recession and you probably can't afford to go out anyway). Folks call in asking for all sorts of crazy things ranging from lighthouses to exotic pets. Sometimes I wonder if these people are just joking around with the screwball things they come up with (seriously, folks, if you have $500,000 in mortgage debt with two car loans and minimal savings, Suze Orman is not going to let you buy a $5,000 pinball table).
But even though Suze is loaded, what I really like is that she acts as though what they are asking for is completely crazy, because most of the time it really is. She's still in touch with reality at a time when it feels like anyone who is extremely rich is completely out of touch with the rest of us. And with this economy being where it is, reality is a good thing.
Small steps to big bucks
From accumulating an eight-month emergency fund (yep, that's eight months of expenses set aside in case you lose your job) to cutting debt, Suze is trying to educate a nation of spenders on the virtue of thrift. She's even challenged folks to not use credit cards for a week, or not eat out for a month in order to jumpstart their financial well-being.
Just imagine where things would be right now if Americans (and companies) had put just a little aside for a rainy day instead of loading up on junk they didn't need. And while people were out blowing their cash on big meals and pinball machines, Suze was just eating at Taco Bell, writing a few books, and starting to make a name for herself so that she would be ready for a time just like this, when people are now lining up (and paying up) to hear her advice. Not bad, and certainly something that we can all learn from.
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Fool contributor Colleen Paulson does not hold positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article and realizes that she is definitely watching too much TV. The Fool’s disclosure policy is all about the Benjamins.