Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saving the Moola: Suze Orman's motto and what it really means

Just as we make it a point to listen to Dave Ramsey's radio show, either as a podcast on iTunes for free or streaming live on the internet for free, we also make it a point to watch the Suze Orman Show. You can watch episodes free at or also free at iTunes.

We've watched the Suze Orman Show for years, and yes, we even say the ending of the show with her.
"Until next time, there's really only one thing you need to know. People first, then money, then things. Now you stay safe."

People first. Then money. Then things.

It seems pretty straight forward to us, but it kills me when people don't really understand what this means. They construe it to mean something that allows them to get what they want instead of what they need.

People first.

Who is people? YOU are people. And YOU are the people Suze is referring to you. In my case, it's ME Suze is referring to. When she says, "people first," she means yourself. And I'm not just making this up - people call in, clearly confused, and she has explained it time and time again.

So if you're at home, drinking a cup of coffee, reading this and thinking, "Yeah, people first. That's why I gotta help my kid out because you know, he's struggling to make rent." Or maybe you're thinking, "Yeah, that's why I'm going to go on a vacation with my buddies because we're going to make so many memories, and I just can't say no to them."

You need to take care of yourself first. "People first" does not refer to your parents, your siblings, your children (if grown), your grandparents, your aunt, your uncle, your friends, your co-worker.

It refers to YOU. You need to put you first. I know it can be hard. Jason and I have said no to many things because we said yes to ourselves.

No, we can't come to our niece's/nephew's/second cousin's/insert random person here's birthday party.

No, we can't come to your barbecue.

No, we can't loan you money.

No, we can't.

No, we won't.

No one else is going to take care of you besides you. And do you even want to be a burden to others? I sure don't. Jason and I thrive on taking care of ourselves. It feels so good that when our car breaks down in the middle of the night, our biggest fear isn't how we're going to pay for it, but that we need to call someone to come get us because we have our cat, Preston, with us and a taxi isn't going to cut it.

Jason and I thrive on the knowledge that when we retire, we'll have enough money to pay for our lives and whatever care we may need. We love knowing we'll be able to pay for a car in cash and get our own piece of real estate to live in (hopefully also in cash). Suze wants you to put your needs first. You need to have food in your house to feed yourself, you need to have clothes in the closet to clothe yourself, you need a roof over your head so you can sleep in inclement weather. You need the water on so you can cleanse yourself.

And the only way we're going to achieve any of big and little dreams is by putting ourselves first.

Get it? I sure hope so.

Okay, that brings us to "then money." While Suze doesn't tend to explain the rest of her motto (and really, does she need to?), I believe she's not referring to keeping stacks of money hidden in one's mattress. Suze says, time and time again, that every person/family needs an 8-month emergency fund. Every person/family needs to max out their ROTH IRA (for a couple, it's $10,000/year, if you're single, it's $5,000/year). Every person should be debt free, including a mortgage. If you have dependents, whether it's a spouse, parents, children, you should have term life insurance. If you're 55+, you should have a long-term care insurance policy in place. Everyone should have a will, a living revocable trust, a financial POA, a medical POA, etc., etc.

"Then money" refers to all those things. Take care of the money aspect of your life so others don't have to worry about you or take care of you.

That brings us to "then things." This means that once you have taken care of yourself first and you have all of the appropriate items in place financially speaking, then you can worry about things, like vacations, redecorating your bathroom, buying an expensive handbag, etc.

Next time you're confused on this motto, you can just come back here and understand what Suze's really talking about.


Anonymous said...

I am new to Suze and just heard this motto for the first time today. Thanks for explaining it. The People First part is easy, but I didn't know what she meant by "Then Money".

Jess and Jason said...

No problem - happy to help!