Suze Orman’s Tips For Your Money Life
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Suze Orman’s Tips For Your Money LifeHaunted by a money memory?
Why do I ask students in my Financial Freedom seminars to get in touch with their deepest and oldest feelings about money? It’s the best way to discover where our relationship with money really begins.
Money is incredibly powerful. It touches every aspect of our lives. So why aren’t we better at managing this important resource? Why do we spend more than we should on credit cards? Why don’t we save more for retirement? Why do we hate to look too closely at our finances? We can be good at taking care of other people’s money in our professional lives and yet become completely powerless when it comes to our own money matters.
It’s not because we aren’t capable adults. It has to do with a money message that was passed down to us many years ago by parents who received the same message from their parents and so on. Buried deep in the past for each of us is a money memory that set the tone for our future relationship with money. It shaped our ideas about the meaning and significance of wealth and scarcity. If we go back and examine our earliest money memories, we can find out what is holding us back and then move past the barrier into a new future.
I’ll tell you how I uncovered my own significant money memory. I looked back in the past and found a time when money first meant something to me—when it was no longer a toy but had real emotional meaning in my life. When I was about eight years old, I asked my mother for a dollar to go to the swimming pool with friends. My mother said, “Suze, I’m sorry. We don’t have a dollar to give you right now, but don’t tell your friends because if they find out they’re not going to like you any more.”
That very night I began to take money from my father’s wallet—$1 or $2 or $5. I took the money, and rather than spend it on myself, I would buy my friends gifts—a comic book, candy, a taffy apple. I did it because I wanted them to like me. And I continued to do that until I was 20 or 30 years old—not stealing money from my father but stealing from myself—taking friends out to lunch or dinner and charging it on my credit card even though I didn’t have the money to pay for it. Buying birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, and Hanukah gifts for them even though I didn’t have the money.
When I recognized the impact that early memory had on me, I decided that other people probably had similar experiences—ones where money and self-esteem became entangled, where money took on an emotional power it was never meant to have. Now I ask students and clients and audience members to look within at their own defining memories about money.
Here are some of the questions I offer to get them started on their search for the money memories that can lead to self-understanding:
- Did your friends have things that you didn’t or vice versa?
- Did your mother have to work while others did not or vice versa?
- Were you ashamed to bring friends home?
- Did you feel ashamed of having more or less than your friends did?
- Did you hear your parents fight about money?
- Did your father yell when your mother bought something?
- Did you steal from piggy banks, your father’s wallet, or the dime store?
- Did you receive money gifts rather than hand-picked presents?
- What did your parents tell you about money that made you feel good?
- What did your parents tell you about money that made you feel bad?
Thinking about these questions leads to insights about the way your early family experiences with money have shaped your feelings and present life. It’s amazing how much the mind can play a role in creating or destroying financial freedom. These money memories have such a hold on our lives—they directly impact how we deal with our money or we don’t deal with our money. When we get in touch with our feelings about money by calling up memory and then use that memory to understand our present behavior, we start to claim our power—and move toward financial freedom.