Suze: There aren't any industries right now, I hate to tell you, that are flush with money. Retailers are going down the drain. The car industry is already down the drain. And the reason that I said, "Please don't go out to eat for days," and this is just my experience, is this: When I look through everybody's expense sheets, when they come on the show, my own show, I go through every single detail. One of the largest expenses that I have found that people are spending money on when they have serious credit card debt, they don't have any money saved, is they're going out to eat. And that is—that is not an—in my opinion, that's not a necessity of life. When—you know what it feels like to have credit card debt. You know what it fees like not to be able to pay your bills.
Jeffrey: What's going to happen is then you're going to have—so I have nine people that work for me. If people don't come here for one month to eat, that means they're not going to get paid. If they're not going to get paid, they're not going to have any money to pay their bills. It becomes a vicious cycle.
Suze: That's true of every industry out there. That's how the United States of America got into trouble.
Jeffrey: There are other industries that can better afford for people to not support them than a small business. You know, for us, I can't, as a start-up business, I've only been open for a year and a half, and I can't afford to not have someone coming in for a month. Maybe if I'd been established for 10 years and had a—a bank roll behind me for it, that would be fine. But for a new start-up business that got hit hard by this economy in Asbury Park, which is this great little town that's trying to come back from years of just poor management and, you know, bad economies—
Suze: Jeffrey, you never should have opened up a business a year and a half ago that you couldn't afford to open up. And I'm just going to be honest with you, you know, that's the Suze Orman way. That it wasn't a good economy a year and a half ago. I have been telling everybody—
Suze: Listen to me, Jeffrey. Listen to me. Because the only thing that I'm trying to do is to help people save themselves. We're in a bad economy. People are losing their homes. People are living in their cars. People can't do anything. And those are the people that I was talking to.
Jeffrey: So why not tell people to cut back and cancel their cable? Why not tell people—
Suze: I have.
Jeffrey: —to stop going to sporting events and—
Suze: I have.
Jeffrey: Tell people not to—you know, to get the movie theaters to reduce their movies and get the movie stars to make less money so there's more money to—
Suze: Jeffrey, again, I want you to listen to me. I didn't say, "Never go out to eat again." I simply said for 30 days—and you can choose that 30-day period. It wasn't like America in the next 30 days was all going to stop.
Oprah: Are you saying, Jeffrey, that you were affected by Suze saying that? Did you notice a difference?
Jeffrey: I definitely—people have definitely said, "Oh, well, we can't go out to eat now." And, you know, I know that I'm struggling and starting to build a business. It's finally starting to get momentum. I'm getting a fine reputation in town. I'm hopefully getting Zagat's in here to rate us so we can finally move ahead, and I don't—I have enough pressures from my own financial problems.
Oprah: What kind of food do you serve?
Jeffrey: Kind of innovative American cuisine. I've changed my pricing structure. I do a four-course dinner during the week for $25.
Oprah: You said people are ordering differently. How are they doing that?
Jeffrey: People are looking for lower-priced items. We're not selling the $30 item. We're selling the mid-20s. I have a very small menu. We only have five items. Five entrées, five appetizers. So we have a very small menu, and we change our menu every month.
Suze: Okay, Jeffrey, let me—let me do this for you. This is—this is the statement that I'd like to make to everybody. And I'm going to stick by this statement. If you have credit card debt, if you don't have eight months of an emergency fund, if you are behind on your car payments, if you're about to lose your home, if you don't think that your job is going to be stable, I would like you to stick by the pledge and, please, make every penny count. However, if you're out there and you have more money than you know what to do with, you have a retirement account, your job is secure, it doesn't matter even if you lose your job you have more than enough money, go out to eat every night. Go and spend money everywhere. In fact, take all the friends with you that can't afford it. I actually have eaten out almost every single night since that broadcast. Do you know that?
Suze: I gained 10 pounds because of it, but that's besides the point. I have eaten out almost every night and I've taken friends. But I'm going to stick by my statement here and then we're going to move on, my dear Jeffrey, that we were talking that day, in that audience, to a few hundred people that had $2.3 million of credit card debt alone. $2.3 million of credit card debt alone.
Oprah: For the audience you were speaking to.
Suze: For the audience.
Oprah: The studio audience.
Suze: Three hundred people?
Suze: Three hundred people, Jeffrey. When you have credit card debt and you can't do it, here's what's going to happen. I'm just going to put this out. If you read the papers today, Bank of America can't make it. They have to borrow more money. The banking industry is going down. Somebody comes in, they put money—they charge a meal on a credit card. They go home, all they can pay is the minimum payment. What happens? Then they get in trouble.
Oprah: They're still paying for that meal months later.
Suze: Then what happens? They claim bankruptcy, the taxpayer ends up paying for it. Why? Because it's the taxpayer that's giving all these banks all this money now. So all I'm asking you to understand, I'm not attacking the restaurant industry. The one place that I have found, looking at expense sheets over and over again, one of the largest expenses is people go out to eat unnecessarily. And I just want them, rather than going out to eat seven nights a week, learn how to break a habit and maybe they go out once a week later on. But the way many people were doing it, Jeffrey, in my opinion, was irresponsible. Restaurant industry, I apologize to you. I want you to succeed forever. And maybe if we could get this under control, your business, Jeffrey, will be there years from now. If people keep doing things they can't afford, Jeffrey, with or without me, your business would go away.
Jeffrey: I hear that.
Suze: There you go, boyfriend.
Oprah: Okay, boyfriend Jeffrey. Thank you. Thank you. That's Jeffrey from the Plan B. Restaurant. Now everybody—okay, everybody who's in the area, go to Plan B tomorrow.
Suze: If you have the money.