Newfound Voice Brings Women Financial Power: A Q&A with Suze Orman

The personal financial expert updates her 2007 best-seller for a new generation.

By Katie Wattendorf August 27, 2018
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Newfound Voice Brings Women Financial Power: A Q&A with Suze Orman

Suze Orman

​When Suze Orman’s Women and Money was first released in 2007, it became a No. 1 New York Times best-seller and sold over a million copies. Now, in the midst of the #MeToo movement, the personal financial expert and television personality is releasing an updated version of the book for today’s audience. With a bonus chapter on investing and a thorough financial empowerment plan, Orman takes her sought-after advice to new levels in Women and Money: Be Strong, Be Smart, Be Secure (Spiegel & Grau, September 2018).

Why do you think women have a stressed relationship with money?

They have been taken advantage of in the past. They needed the job, the promotion, the raise or the part in the play because they needed the income. That’s at the root of why they have allowed men to treat them disrespectfully. If you have no self-worth, it is impossible for you to have a net worth. But women are feeling less afraid. They have found their voice and their self-worth. Now may be the first time in history that women have what it takes to deal with their money well.

What inspired you to release an updated version of your book?

The #MeToo movement. When Women and Money originally came out, I would ask callers to my show if they had read the book. And they would say “Yes, but … , ” and that “but” was always confusing to me. Why didn’t they learn what they needed from the book? The concepts were there, but women couldn’t fully use them because they didn’t have a financial voice. The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have helped them find their voice. You can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you don’t have a say, you are paralyzed. 

What advice would you give a female worker just starting her career?

Time is the most important ingredient in any recipe for financial freedom. Let’s say you are 25, and you’ve just landed your first good job. If you put $100 a month into a Roth IRA every single month until you are 65, in 40 years you would have $1 million (at a 12 percent annual average rate of return). So, when you think, “I want this new purse or these new shoes,” don’t think that $100 is going to cost you $100. Think about the value that money is going to have 40 years from now.

What can women do about the issue of wage disparity with men?

The key is to make those you are dependent on for your pay dependent on you. Once that happens, you can name your price. If you don’t have to rely on that paycheck—and you’re not one paycheck away from bankruptcy because you’ve been saving all along—you can write your own ticket. But if you are powerless, and you have debt and you need that job and you can’t say anything because you’re afraid they might fire you, then of course you’ll be underpaid. Be a powerful woman. Power attracts money, and when you’re powerless you repel it.

How can HR professionals help employees with finances?

Gain their trust and be honest with them. You can’t tell people what to do with their money if you haven’t done it yourself. They will not believe you. The top question I’m asked after a presentation is, “Why do people do what you asked them to do after your one-hour talk, but they didn’t do what the HR department has been asking them to do for six years?” It’s because I practice what I preach. If HR professionals really want to help the employees, they need to help themselves first. 

Interview by Katie Wattendorf, an editorial intern at SHRM.

Photograph by Robert Trachtenberg

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