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NUNN ON ONE: TV Suze Orman on her new show, civil unions and more
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

This article shared 5222 times since Wed Jan 18, 2012
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Famous financial advisor Susan "Suze" Orman was born on the South Side in Chicago, and then studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After moving to California, she once again returned to her roots to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where she surprised guests by giving away 1 million copies of her book Women and Money.

Orman continued working with Oprah on O Magazine and appeared on the television show Oprah's All-Stars.

She has written 10 books and won two Emmy Awards for fundraisers she hosted on CBS. She married Kathy Travis, who is the co-producer of her very successful show The Suze Orman Show, two years ago.

Her newest project just started recently, with The Money Class on OWN.

Windy City Times: Hi, girlfriend!

Suze Orman: I tweeted you today, didn't I? Sometimes I think people wonder, is that Suze Orman really tweeting? It most certainly is.

WCT: Yay. How did this new show come about?

Orman: I wrote a book called The Money Class and I wrote it a year or so ago with the theme of that the American dream has died. I think that I was probably the first person to actually put in writing the possibility and the probability that that in fact had happened.

I was talking to some of the producers about this book we then came up with an idea of giving a money class. I could teach people in a classroom essentially what I did in the book.

Now from the start to the finish of it obviously the show changed because it wasn't interesting enough just to have a lecture on topics. But that was how we started with the concept of America's money class.

WCT: How will this show be different?

Orman: You know advice is always the same. Good financial advice is good financial advice no matter what the forum is that you are giving out that advice in. The difference here is on my CNBC show—which I love more than life itself, we're going on 11 years with it—all you ever see is me staring into that camera and telling you what you need to hear.

I was not scripted and it was impromptu in this case. I get to do exactly what I wanted to do which is the only way I know how to roll. You get to literally see these people in depth for the first time with me and I think that adds in this case anyway a dimension where people will be able to identify with these families and you get to see their responses.

So this also shows a different side of me. At times we're funny, at times we're sad, at times I'm very stern, but you get to see more sides of me than just staring right into the camera.

WCT: How do you keep it entertaining?

Orman: It's by being me. The reason that I think I've enjoyed the success that I've enjoyed is that what you see on the screen is absolutely no different—what you see when the screen is over and the cameras shut down and the lights go away. So I am who I am and I'm a serious character. I'm a character that loves talking about money, not the money itself but the reasons why you don't have that in your life, which you know you should have. What's wrong with this equation? And I've been doing this now for over 30 years.

I just find myself amazed that I can still have the great passion or the enthusiasm to say what I do because I've loved the topic of personal finance and I'm really good at it. And because I've mastered it and I don't have to think twice about what I'm going to say it just all flows.

WCT: People definitely identify with your story.

Orman: They love the fact that I was a waitress until I was 30 years old making $400. They love that I didn't come from a wealthy family. They loved all the things that I've gone through.

The way that you make it entertaining isn't to try to make it entertaining.

You just literally respond the way your heart and your mind is telling you to respond in the very moment. I think that's the key to my success.

WCT: What are your recommendations with LGBT folks being in civil unions now? Should they wait to get joint bank accounts until [ same-sex ] marriage is legal?

Orman: Yes. Here's the thing: You don't have to be married or in a civil union to actually share money. You could just do it with anybody that you wanted to. The real question is: Is it a wise thing to totally share money? I will be forever a believer in that when you enter a relationship you are an autonomous human being and you should remain autonomous while you are in a relationship.

So, in truth, you should always have three accounts: one that is yours; one that is your life partner's or your spouse's or your boyfriend or girlfriend or however you want to designate them; and one where you put in equal percentages to the housing bill.

So, for instance, let's say it costs you $3,000 to live, which are the expenses that are your joint expenses. Maybe it's your rent, your food or whatever it may be.

You should not be each putting in $1,500 a month, which would be 50/50. You want to put in according to what you are making. So let's just say one of you was making $7,000 and let's say the other one was making $3,000. Together that's $10,000 that you are bringing home.

You would then divide the $3,000 or your joint expenses by $10,000 and that would give you 30%. So each of you should put 30% of your take home pay into that house account. So 30% of $3,000 would be essentially $900, 30% of $7,000 would be $2,100. So they're equal percentages but not equal amounts of money and that's really how it should be done.

WCT: What trends are you seeing for 2012 in personal finance?

Orman: Here we are just a few days into the new year and I think people are being overly optimistic, I'm so sorry to say. I think they're making light of what's going on in Europe. I think they're making light of the economic situation that we have here.

Because we have a new year we ended on the up note and the market seemed relatively okay it's that people forget and that scares me. That they just might go right back to where they were and who knows what can happen.

So I'm concerned about that. I think people need to remember what they just went through. I think they need to not freak out and going, "Oh, my God! I have to buy a new home right now before I lose the chance to be able to do so." I think people need to just stay in their bodies and see what happens.

WCT: Where did the idea of viewers earning $50,000 on The Money Class come from?

Orman: It came from me thinking, truthfully, what can I do to get people to pay attention. People don't pay attention to the most important thing in their lives. They're not paying attention to their money.

So it was my idea to take my money and let me give $50,000 for a first prize and $5,000 away for five different people. So that's $75,000.

An exam was written from all six episodes. So right now we have about 30 questions but I think I'm going to sculpt it down to maybe 10 questions and then maybe an essay question. I am trying to figure out a way that people who don't get the Oprah Winfrey Network [ OWN ] are able to go to and read the guidebooks so that it's not just a class.

I want people who don't have cable or who haven't yet subscribed to OWN or can't afford whatever, I want them to be included as well so we're figuring that out as a way as to how to do that.

WCT: Will there be more of your personal life on OWN or any other venue?

Orman: Well, you know, the one reason that up until now that you haven't seen a lot about my personal life is because I didn't want anything to get in the trouble or in the way of money.

I didn't want people's minds to be troubled by the fact that I'm gay and I've been with KT now for 11 years. So I always wanted to be known as the Money Lady, not the Money Lesbian.

With that said, I'm always very open on my own show. When somebody asks a question I always talk about KT. I never try to hide any of it; look at my scrapbook on my website. I always show off my girl because I love her so much. I don't make a habit of talking about it only because the truth of the matter is people whenever they get on the phone with me they don't ask me about it. They ask me about money. But if they ask me about it I'd be more than open to talk about it.

WCT: When are you coming back to Chicago?

Orman: That's a good question. I'm sure I'm going to be coming there for the Rosie Show sooner or later. I'm just waiting for them to invite me but usually when I travel [ it's ] because there's actually a business reason for me to be there. I very seldom travel just for pleasure.

Start studying with The Money Class and you may even win $50,000. Visit or check local listings.

Want more Orman? Her website is and she's on Twitter at @SuzeOrmanShow.

This article shared 5222 times since Wed Jan 18, 2012
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