Sunday, July 8, 2007

Girlfriend, let me tell you...

Say what they may about Suze Orman, she calls a spade a spade, even if everyone else around her wants to believe it's a diamond. Yes, she's loud, a tad obnoxious, and well, kind of a know-it-all when it comes to financial planning. She doesn't have the grace of of Jean Chatzky (who I also think is wonderful) and that's completely fine in my book. The fantastic thing about Suze is that she doesn't believe in putting off any problems today in the hopes they will either a) be dealt with later or b) magically disappear. "Girlfriend, " she always says on her TV show, "this is what we are going to do TODAY...."

Over the past few weeks, I've been reading two of her books: The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke and Women and Money. While I have an MBA from a top-notch school, I am not a CFA (certified financial advisor). Suze's books are easily understood, entertaining and informative, regardless of your educational background. Through her website, she lays out a personal plan for you to get your financial life back no matter what your age, income level, or financial past.

I hesitated to write this post promoting Suze's books. As a general rule, I dislike any writing that comes off as if the writer is standing up at a podium preaching his or her beliefs. I am making an exception here because I care about you and your future. Recently, I was talking about these books with a very friend of mine who is in a financial bind. The friend said he couldn't bear to read them because he was too scared to see how desperate his situation really was. And then I was scared for him. How could he ever get control of his life - be it his career, his personal life, his future - if he couldn't wrap his head around the steps he needed to take to get out of debt, improve his work situation (meaning his salary), and live the life he so earnestly imagines for himself?

I know debt is frightening. I know finance can be an intimidating subject, especially for those who have little or no training on the subject. I grew up in a very poor household, constantly worried for as long as I can remember that the lights wouldn't stay on, that we wouldn't have heat, that there wouldn't be enough food to it. And many times, those lights went out, we didn't have heat, and there wasn't any food. I get it. Honestly. We do not have the luxury to hide behind our fear of finance, our excuses of why we can't save any money. Time is ticking, and it's the most precious resource we have.

Just a few more thoughts before I step down from this soapbox I'm on. Getting our finances in order and establishing financial freedom may just be the greatest battle we ever undertake because we have to fight ourselves to get on, and stay on, the straight and narrow. There are retail temptations everywhere and it's okay to indulge them once in a while, so long as we are also working to provide for ourselves down the line through savings, investing, and paying down debt. If you are like my friend, and afraid to take a peek at your real financial picture, buy Suze's books and read them, even if you have to have a highball of scotch next to you to get through them. And call me, email me, regardless of the day or time. If you're in trouble and you need someone to help you through those first difficult realizations, I'm here, and I'll hold your hand every step of the way down your road to a brighter future.

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