I was a dope:

Bernie Brillstein, Hollywood producer and author of The Little Stuff Matters Most: 50 Rules from 50 Years of Trying to Make a Living (Gotham)

"I did every dumb thing you can do, but still I made money. I bought houses; I had a Bentley for a week. I was a dope. For a while, I thought things validated my success. [But I realized] my success validated all my success. So I got rid of the four houses—no more calls in the middle of night that the boiler blew up.

Everyone thinks money is the answer, but happiness is the answer. Money just lets you pick your own type of misery. I'm not a Holy Roller. I am excessive in my own way, but I really think it comes down to the simple things—the dog and my wife."

Have plastic surgery—chop up the credit cards:

Dave Ramsey, host of the financial advice radio program The Dave Ramsey Show, which also streams live on the Internet through

"I'm often asked what the number one money problem in America is right now. It's that people wander through life like Gomer Pyle on Valium, then wake up at retirement and say, "Shazam! I'm broke." They don't have a plan.

On my radio show, we have $80,000-a-year couples call almost daily and they're broke. If you're a broke Yuppie, it's time to grow up. I've been there and done that, so I'm pointing at myself as well. Motivational speaker Les Brown said sometimes you have to tell yourself to shut up. I'm not suggesting that you become a tightwad just for the sake of being a tightwad. But if you can't pay for it now, you can't afford it. You are not entitled to a car or a leather couch, and your grandparents never went to Hawaii, so shut up. You can't wander through the mall like a drunk in a bar. If you're carrying credit card balances and you're mortgaged up to your eyeballs and you feel like a rat trapped on a wheel, it's because you're a rat on a wheel. So have plastic surgery—chop up the credit cards—and make a decision to do something different. Save for things. I want you to go to Hawaii—it's a beautiful place."

Get to enoughness:

Vicki Robin, coauthor of Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Penguin)

"We confuse money—pieces of paper or metal—with nonmaterialistic needs and desires. And we have lost our imagination about how we might meet many of these deeper needs without money. People who know how much is enough have everything they want and need to live a life they themselves define as fulfilling and meaningful. All their choices—from how they spend their time and how they spend their money to whom they hang out with—reflect that context. For these people, there is wealth beyond money; there is "enoughness," a stance of material sufficiency and spiritual affluence. They don't compare their assortment of stuff to someone else's stockpile to assess whether they indeed have adequate wealth. They develop economic resilience by learning new skills: buying in bulk, comparison shopping, doing yard work instead of going to the gym. They set up babysitting cooperatives so that parents can save money and have a life. And on and on."

People who are more materialistic are more likely to be depressed:

Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College and author of Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture (Simon & Schuster)

"Research shows that materialistic values undermine health and well-being. People who are more materialistic are more likely to be depressed and anxious and to get stomachaches, less likely to have friends—and energy. When parents are materialistic, their children become materialistic. Their teens are much more likely to engage in risky behavior—drug and alcohol use.

It's easy for parents to complain about their kids being spoiled but not see the ultramaterialism in themselves. For instance, they can take only a short vacation [because of work], so they spend big on the children to make up for it. Marketers are very keen on this, calling it guilt money. Changing this type of spending involves substitutions. The families I interviewed who are trying to create uncommercialized lives do time-consuming things, like spending hours building an igloo for a birthday party instead of buying something expensive that is a "wow" for the kids."

Take Control of Your Career
From the March 2005 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.


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