Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Suze Orman is terrifying.

So, as graduation nears (oh my Jesus, oh my Jesus, oh my Jesus, she mutters, as she rocks back and forth in the fetal position) I've begun thinking about how I'm going to handle my personal finances once I'm out in the 'real world.' Let's say I get the clinical research job that I really really want, and would be incredible at (are you reading this, potential employer?). And let's further say that I get paid, after taxes, about 2,000 bucks a month. Perhaps this is pie in the sky, but let's dream a bit longer. So...how much of that is a reasonable amount to spend on housing? How horrible/ lame would it be for me to spend a few months at my parents' or at a friend's, paying a drastically reduced amount in order to build up the cash for an apartment deposit? Finance has always seemed like the most deadly-dull, gray-tapioca-boring thing in the world...yet when it has personal applications, it suddenly becomes interesting. Hmmm. Noted.
So, somewhat bewildered, I took to the web. A lot about Roth IRAs and nest eggs and early withdrawal penalties (which sounds like a form of birth control, doesn't it?) but nothing that I could see applying immediately to me. And then I stumbled upon...*cue Darth Vader theme*...the Suze Orman Empire. The woman IS a brand. Like Oprah, where she got her start--like Martha Stewart, who owns a company called "Martha Stewart OMNImedia," for Goddess' sake! She has a column in Oprah's magazine, to which my coop used to have a subscription, and every so often someone would leave it on the kitchen table, open to that page, and I would feel accosted by her smile as I sat down to have my morning cup of tea. There's a manic look about her that I don't like. Her smile's a bit too wide. And being the focus of those large, aroused pupils makes me feel like a skittery prey animal. Basically, I am afraid that Suze Orman is going to eat me.
Anyhow, she's very popular with women in particular because she emphasizes a more wholistic, even spiritual approach to money management. A sampling of buzzwords and book names should give you the basic idea: "Women and Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny," because if your financial future is secure, your husband will never dump you for his secretary, and you'll never get diagnosed with lung cancer. "The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom," which includes gems like "Step 2: Facing your Fears and Creating New Truths," and "Step 7: Being open to Receive all You are Meant to Have." Obviously the welfare mothers and urban poor are not willing to create new truths for themselves--that's their problem. If they were really open to the abundance of the universe, surely they would be receiving more than a fistful of foodstamps and a voucher for Section 8 housing. Riiiight.
This has turned into a bit of a bashing session, for which I apologize: she's a brilliant woman, obviously very shrewd and insightful. She's FINALLY come out as a big lesbo, which I appreciate (when is Oprah finally going to admit her thing with Gayle King?! Maybe this will be the kick she needs)--people need to know that the Lesbian Mafia is still present and still strong. I'm sure she gives a lot of money to charity and flosses every night, blah blah. I just wonder about the real benefits of giving the impression that money management is about bougie investors getting their stocks in order and putting aside enough money to send Jimmy and Annie to the University of State. Sometimes it's about a single mother with 3 kids having to work two jobs to make ends meet--she might not be home at dinnertime, but at least she knows the kids have something to eat while they're home alone.
Not to mention that, for me, it's not especially helpful to keep a dream journal when I'm putting together a budget. I need a calculator, a sharp number 2 pencil, an estimate of income and a list of fixed expenses, and maybe a nice manila envelope to keep it all in. No scrying or drumming required.

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