December 28, 2014

In 2015, I plan to be powerful in managing my finances. It’s time to retire the wishy-washy worried woman act. Let’s go into the new year with confidence!

I’m feeling inspired because I just read Suze Orman’s Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny. She said she finds that way too many women feel insecure about their finances and are committing financial suicide.

In this nifty, little $9.99 paperback, Suze features examples of nurturing, competent women who take splendid care of others. But they feel guilty about spending on themselves and investing in their own future.

And when these women are relationships, they typically can’t wait to turn money matters over to their partners, especially if that partner is a man. This is true of even highly-educated professional women.

Ouch, ouch and ouch. Was Suze spying on my marriage? Sounds like she also knows too much about my post-divorce romantic disasters. Why was I always looking for a guy to take care of me financially?

After a decade as a single mom, I’m finally finding my own confidence. But in reading Suze’s book, I can see that remnants of the old me linger on. The situation calls for some fine-tuning. To put the issue in Suze speak, I need to make myself a truly wealthy, powerful woman.

While the book is written for women, I think it would be just as interesting for any man who has money anxiety. There’s plenty of useful info here, all of it presented in plain, simple English. 

I really like Suze’s detailed, lengthy explanation of why it’s not enough to have a will when I die. She also offers practical advice on how unmarried couples can divide household expenses equitably. Plus, I am now sold on the importance of opening a savings account, even though my bank pays a pathetic interest rate of less than 1%. What counts is the practice of saving.  

The pages also explain basics. Do you need to know how mutual funds and various interests work? Are you clear on the difference between good and bad debt? Maybe you need step-by-step advice on how to strategically pay down credit card bills, manage college tuition expenses and choose life and home insurance.

The book is set up as a five-month financial makeover plan. Here are a few highlights from its pages: 

  • Suze says that in an economy where layoffs are rampant, every person needs to build up a savings account that can cover up to eight months of living expenses.
  • The law requires the three credit bureaus to give us each a free credit report once a year. Sometimes there are errors we will want to fix, or problems to address. To get the report, go to 
  • If you want to shop around for a no-fee bank checking account, is a good place to compare rates. Be prepared to feel sad, though. Rates are woefully low. 
  • Social Security Administration benefits will never be enough for anyone to live on. But if you want to estimate your potential benefits under multiple wage scenarios, you can play around with the free online calculator on the federal government’s website. (You can also expect the SSA to snail mail you a copy of your earnings history every year.)

There’s lots more in the book. Some of the inspiration in it is good. I especially like her section entitled “The Value of Doing What You Love:” 

There’s a category of worker that we haven’t yet included in this discussion: artists, writers, teachers, activists, and others who have chosen their professions not for the pay but for the satisfactions and nourishment their work brings to their souls. I hope those of you engaged in this type of work realize every day that you are not on sale, that you are doing what you love, and how grateul the rest of us are for what you do.

And if you’re feeling nosy, check out Suze’s Dec. 11, 2014 interview with the Wall Street Journal. It’s about her real estate holdings and has a little about her personal life.

Suze, 63, lives with her wife Kathy Travis live in a one-bedroom apartment at The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. They also own homes in South Florida, South Africa and the Bahamas. Her property investment philosophy: “If I can’t write a check for it, I can’t afford it.”

Wise words to live by.

How about you and your finances? Any thoughts on where things will go in 2015?