06.22.2009
Avon’s Tweet Up with Suze Orman

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I often think about how funny the beauty and fashion industry is here in New York City. So many of us live way beyond our financial means but from afar, you would never be able to tell. Working for several years as a beauty publicist may have given me the insight and knowledge on how to score a Marc Jacobs handbag for 60% off but even at 60% off, I can’t actually afford it…yet, I bought it anyway. So many of us live in this luxe world of “I’ll trade you a box of La Mer for those sample sale Choo’s” but when it boils down to it, most beauty and fashion girls make barely enough money to live in their 5th floor walk-up cubicle apartment on the Lower East Side…and thank god for business lunches and dinners at places like Koi and Stanton Social or we’d all be in debt AND starving.

With this recent epiphany in mind, I was very excited to attend Avon‘s very first “Tweet Up” featuring famed financial guru, Suze Orman. (For those of you not up on your Twitter lingo, a Tweet Up is an in-person meeting between people who follow one another in the Twitter network, and who tweet live from the tweet up event.) From the moment Suze started speaking she was a complete inspiration to everyone in the room. She didn’t shame any of us for the bad financial decisions that we’ve made but instead encouraged us to start over from this point and move forward. As I sat there and listened to the powerhouse speak, I felt embarrassed as a result of the recent times that I’d spent $75 on dinner on a random weekday night for no special occasion or reason, the fact that I recently spent $120 on designer candles (ok, they were Diptyque so give me a small break), that $12 taxi I took across town because I didn’t want to take the subway in the humid weather and ruin my hair…these are all things I could’ve avoided if I had been paying more attention to my current financial status. There’s a lot of pressure in Manhattan to keep up with the Goldman boys (as in Goldman Sachs) but in time of recession, many of us are getting extremely out of control with our spending.

When Suze was 30 years old, she was a waitress making $400 a month…and now? She owns five homes, has millions of dollars in the bank, has written nine books and has her own TV show. How does this happen? Everyone in the room wanted to know. Suze made her fortune by working for it. Seven days a week, 20 hours a day…for 10 years. She also followed the motto of “if I can’t write a check for it, I can’t afford it.” Something many of us can and should also apply to credit cards. “If I can’t pay CASH for this, I can’t afford it” is now something I will say to myself every single time I enter a store, attend a sample sale or check out a shopping Web site.

Suze also had some interesting insight on how to tackle your current debt that actually contradicted what nearly everyone in the room had previously thought. She says to first pay off student loans, save money for an “emergency fund” and THEN tackle credit card debt. I had always been under the assumption that you should pay off credit cards first but Suze says no way. Student loans FIRST and it’s also imperative to make sure you have money saved in case you ever get laid off or have a financial emergency. Several of us at the Tweet Up had actually been laid off and to this Suze said told us to reposition our thinking. “I got laid off…great. Now what other opportunities are out there for me?” In addition to this new way of thinking, she couldn’t stress enough how important it is that women in business help one another. In my opinion, it will always be to your benefit to help someone in their career because if they don’t someday return the favor, it’s also pure karma.

For more information on Suze, follow her on Twitter and check out a copy of her book, “Suze Orman’s 2009Action Plan” that we received at the Tweet Up and remember, “if you aren’t powerful with money, you aren’t powerful. Period.”

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