Is There Such Thing as a Messy Millionaire?
My favorite lesbian: I recently purchased Suze Orman's latest book (at Costco, for $10 off of the retail price), "Women & Money". I'm not including the unnecessarily long subtitle about Owning the Power to Control Your Powerful Financial Destiny of Power or whatever, because I feel like the title "Women & Money" more or less sums it all up.
Women & Money is written expressly for women, because of the relationship that Suze feels women have with their money. Suze gives some great talking points about how women feel about money, for instance the combination of shame and delight that I feel when I deal with money. I don't know if these feelings are exclusive to women, so I would actually recommend this book to anyone who won't feel alienated when the book directly addresses women.
(One thing that's a little odd about the book is the way in which Suze seems to assume that many of the women reading it are being financially controlled by husbands or partners. I mean, that might be true, but if you are a single gal reading the book, it can make you feel a tad out of place.)
I wouldn't normally shill anything that Suze says, because she and her Oprah-originated ilk sort of rub me the wrong way. I don't know if it's the message or the delivery, but I generally avoid these talk show spin-offs like the plague.
However, I felt different about Women & Money the second I laid eyes on it. I've only perused Suze's other books, but the feeling that I got from those books convinced me that Suze had nothing to teach me. So, it's with a bit of reluctance that I admit that this book is a decent one. For one thing, Orman dispense with a lot of the "Listen to me. Look. Listen. I'm talking. You'd better be listening"-type bossiness that her other books exude.
For another, she finally explains how she, at the age of 29, went from being a waitress to working as a broker for Merril Lynch, which was a story that I never believed until reading her summary of that experience (hint: it's not nearly as glamorous a transition as she originally made it sound - for one, it took place in Oakland, CA, and for another, she admits that she was hired because the manager had a female hiring quota to fill).
Anyway, I'm not finished with the book yet, which is a great read for anyone who needs to get a grip on their finances and doesn't want to concentrate on complicated matters, such as investing and stock portfolios and mayonnaise futures. In other words, if budgeting scares you, this is a good place to start. So, I'm only a few chapters in, but one of her opening lists keeps poking me in the brain, so I thought I'd share it.
Early on, Suze lists the 8 essential qualities that she thinks every woman should have. If it seems a little presumptuous, that's because it is. Rest assured, none of those essential qualities involve large earrings, heavy eyeliner, or a maniacal smile (sorry Suze, but I really want to give you a make-under, hon). Out of these 8 essential qualities, the one that keeps bugging me is Cleanliness. Says Suze:
You might be reading this and thinking that cleanliness is nice but not essential to your financial well-being. I am here to tell you that if this quality is not up front and center, wealth will elude you and you will be left with the mess that you created. Respect the power of this quality of cleanliness. Tell the universe that you have cleared the path for wealth and abundance to enter.
OK, that last sentence borders a little bit on The Secret-ness, but what convinced me that Suze isn't just talking out of her ear is this statement:
When you don't know where your money is, when you have no filing system for your important documents, when you dive into your pocketbook to pull out crumpled bills, when your car looks like a garbage can, when your closets are filled with junk and clutter -- you cannot possibly be a wealthy woman.
Now, I'm already cultivating a reputation as a paranoid, anti-government nutcase, but did Suze spend some time observing me or something? Clutter is my middle name. My car smells good, but there's no room for passengers in it because of the boxes of old tax returns, Goodwill donations, bungee cords, and empty water bottles. And I'm a wreck financially, too. But does there have to be a correlation? I mean, I'm a brunette and I like pickles, but that doesn't mean that all dark-haired gals love a jar of kosher dills after work.
Thinking back, though, I can't say that I've ever met a wealthy slob (at least, no one who earned their own money - I've known a few heirs who couldn't operate a vacuum). All the people that I know who are financially secure are very organized, very clean. They don't bring their jumbo packs of paper towels home from Costco and deposit them in the middle of the living room, where they will continue to gather dust for the next few months.
But is it causation? Does being clean help you become wealthy, or is cleanliness a quality that people who are good with money naturally have? If I clean up my house, will that help me to clean up my finances?
Or is cleanliness not a quality so much as a side effect of another crucial quality: discipline? It takes discipline to keep your belongings in order, fighting entropy day after day. How many clean people do you know who have no willpower? Disciplined people are (naturally?) better at not blowing their paycheck on eBay shoes.
So my question is not "How do I become clean?" but rather, "Where do I find the power to discipline myself?".
My boyfriend suggested enlisting. Anyone else? Is it just a matter of baby steps towards a goal, or is a drastic discipline makeover necessary? Or are there some people who simply don't have it in them?