Oprah: —and changing the way you even present yourself about money in the world.
Suze: Actually, what I'm talking about is changing the way you think about yourself. And understanding that money isn't what makes you happy. If you—it's money—if you have a lot of money, it doesn't mean you're going to be happy. All right?
Oprah: Absolutely. Nobody believes that until they get the money and realize it.
Suze: I'll also tell you lack of money sure will make you miserable. That I'm there for you. But what's interesting is that if you're not happy, however, you will never really ever have a lot of money. Because you have to be one with yourself. And when you're one with yourself, you make the right moves at the right time saying the right thing, and you just have this energy that then money starts to come to you. If you're not happy and you have money, I've got news for you. Your money will go.
Oprah: Now you speak so powerfully about credit card debt. Were you ever a person who was in credit card debt?
Suze: Are you crazy?
Oprah: I'm just asking.
Suze: Are you crazy? Remember my story, which is that—here's why I talk—you just said I talk so powerfully about it.
Oprah: Yes, you talk so powerfully about it.
Suze: You can't be powerful about something—
Oprah: What you don't know.
Suze: —unless you haven't experienced it firsthand. So from 1987, you know, I had gotten ripped off by one of my employees. The story's in the book. And I was going out with somebody who was a seriously wealthy person. And I wanted to impress this person. And I wasn't as wealthy as this person. So I kept spending money, I would take money out of my 401(k) plan to buy this person gifts. I would do everything. Before I knew it, I was $250,000 in debt.
Oprah: $250,000 in debt.
Suze: In debt. Credit card debt, everybody. And the reason that I was able to be so much in credit card debt is I was making a good living.
Suze: And all these credit card companies were willing to give me this, give me that, and before you knew it, you had all this debt. And I realized sitting at a Denny's in Emeryville, California, that the woman waiting on me had more money than I did.
Suze: Because there was no way that she had the amount of credit card debt I had. I had a leased BMW sitting in the parking lot—$800 a month for that. My life was hocked to the hilt, and everybody thought I was this fancy-schmancy financial adviser and then I didn't have the money to pay a ticket. I'm on the Bay Bridge coming home and I get pulled over, and I started crying because I didn't have $40 to pay a ticket.
Oprah: You were living a lie.
Suze: A big lie.
Suze: And that's how I learned all this. That's where all this comes from, everybody. So you may sit out there and you may go, "Oh, we have a lot of money and da, da, da." Don't you understand? We're not a lot different than you. We are who we are today. But you never change on the inside. And so the lessons that I've learned are just lessons that I'm trying to share with all of you.
Oprah: Yeah, well, I mean Jerry (sic) was saying you're this big shot making all this money now and therefore—hi, Jerry, (sic) we'll be talking about you until tomorrow. Jerry (sic) the restaurant guy was saying you were a big shot with all this money telling people who have these small businesses—Jeffrey, I'm sorry.
Suze: And the posts—I just have to go back to that for one second. The posts from the restaurant owners were so vicious. Do you not understand? I have to just say that what we're trying to do here is change the world to be a better place so that nobody has debt, nobody has to wonder how they're going to eat. Nobody has to worry about having a home to live in. Everybody can retire when the time comes. And all I'm asking all of you is to help me help you. All of us join together to help make this world a better place. And if that means we all have to stop spending money for a little bit because we can't carry the lies of debt on our shoulders anymore—
Oprah: The lies of debt.
Suze: That's what we have to do.
Oprah: Yeah, isn't it interesting, too, that people are so vicious in e-mail. I think—and not saying that you were, Jeffrey. We're not talking about you specifically. But a lot of the restaurant responses were very vicious.
Oprah: And mean and mean-spirited. And it's very interesting because people can do that in e-mail because there's not a face there. There's not a—don't you think?
Suze: Yeah, and I think their anger's actually misplaced. "Did Suze Orman suddenly create what's happening in the economy and bringing down the restaurant industry and the retail industry and all these things by saying to people, 'Can you just watch what you're doing for days? Can you just try to see what it feels like to be home with yourself as one? Rather than going out and escaping yourself?'" Which is what happens when you go out. And so it's funny, it's—it's—we're all just trying to fix this problem. Not blame each other for it. But anyway, okay, we can go.
Oprah: Barbara's Skyping from her bedroom—
Suze: It obviously bothered me.
Oprah: She's Skyping from her bedroom in Brooklyn, New York. What's your question?
Barbara: Hi, Oprah. Hi, Suze. I watched your show last week, and I heard you stress that we should pay down our credit card debt, which you're doing again tonight. But then later on in the show you stressed that we should have a reserve of like eight months. Well, my question is, what do you do first? Since it's hard to do both at the same time.
Suze: I love this question. So, my dear Robin—
Suze: Oh, Barbara, I'm sorry. Barbara?
Suze: What do I know, Barbara? I'm just good with numbers. Not names. But, Barbara, here's the question for you. Is there any risk that you are going to be losing your job?
Barbara: Well, I'm a consultant and when I work, I get paid. And just recently I was down on the bench for three months. And while I'm not working, I'm not getting paid.
Suze: Yeah. So—
Barbara: That was a big eye-opener because that never happened to me before.