What Suze Orman learned from her biggest money mistake

When people come to Suze Orman for financial advice, she’s more than happy to point out that someone is on the verge of a money blunder. Fail to invest through market downturns or cosign a loan for a struggling friend, and you just might hear the financial guru and host of the “Women & Money … and Everyone Smart Enough to Listen” podcast call you a “financial fool.”

But Orman readily admits that she doesn’t have a perfect financial track record. When asked to describe a money mistake she made in her youth, Orman recalled overspending to impress a woman she was dating. In hindsight, the decisions she made seem laughable: “Are you f—ing kidding me? Why would I have done that?” she says.

In her case, it was “because I believed that things defined me, and those things would win her approval.”

Overspending because ‘I wanted to impress’

In the early 80’s Orman dated a woman named Noni, who Orman says came from “one of the major blue-chip” families. Noni wore a Cartier watch.

“Even though my parents didn’t have money like that, my mom went and bought me a $1,500 Rolex Oyster back in 1980 so that I could look like a stock-broker,” Orman says. “She took the diamonds out of her engagement ring and made me a necklace so I could look the part in her mind.”

Video by Mariam Abdallah

Noni and her family seemed to think it was all a bit déclassé: “She said, ‘Oh … a Rolex,'” Orman says.

“So what does Suze do?” she continues, referring to her past self. “She takes money from her 401(k) so she can go buy a Cartier so Noni would be impressed. I go and lease a BMW, a big one, so that Noni would be impressed. I start buying designer clothes so that Noni would be impressed.”

‘I was a fool’ in 3 key ways

Followers of Orman’s career will note that the story contains several missteps that these days the guru strongly warns against. “I did that,” says Orman. “And I was a fool.”

  1. She borrowed from her 401(k). This is a big no-no for Orman. While some people view borrowing from retirement accounts as an easy way to access…

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