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The Laws of Money, the Lessons of Life: Keep What You Have and Create What You Deserveby Suze Orman
One day the news of an impending hurricane went sweeping through a seaside town. As the winds were picking up and the tide rising, the authorities rushed from door to door, instructing the residents to evacuate, to pack up their valuables and head inland. All of the townspeople — except for one — did as advised, acting as fast as they could, loading their cars with their family photographs, TVs, clothes, cash, and their most important records and documents. Most were well inland by the time the torrential rains began hitting their town. Only one man stayed behind, saying calmly to the authorities as they knocked on his door, "No, I'll be okay. God will take care of me."
As the town started to flood, with water swirling waist high, a boat with a rescue team made its way to the man's house, urging him to climb on board and get to safety. Again the man said confidently, "No, I'll be okay. God will take care of me."
Soon the rising waters submerged almost all the houses in the town and the man found himself stranded on his rooftop. A Coast Guard helicopter appeared, and lowered a ladder for the man to climb to safety. Again he refused, calling out, "No, I'll be okay. God will take care of me." It was his last chance. Within an hour the floodwaters engulfed the house, drowning the man.
Upon reaching heaven, the man, totally confused and feeling utterly betrayed, appeared in front of God and asked, "Why did you not take care of me and save me from the storm?" God replied, "I did try to take care of you. I sent you a messenger, a lifeboat, and a helicopter! What more did you want me to do?"
What more, indeed?
THE LAWS OF MONEY, THE LESSONS OF LIFE
Every day I talk to people who have been adversely affected by the abrupt end of the economic boom of the 1990s. Some worked hard all their lives and, just as the promise of retirement approached, found that much or all of the money they had so carefully saved for retirement had disappeared. Some are young people who had invested time and money in what they thought were no-lose propositions, but who did lose — big-time; they may need years to recover their losses and years more to get ahead. Others, thanks in part to the aggressive lending practices of financial institutions, purchased homes or cars that they could not afford and have now lost their purchases and their money, along with the chance of obtaining further credit. And many people — way too many — are so overburdened with debt, credit card debt or student loans, that they don't see a way ever to get above water; their financial stance is, Why even try?
But personal financial storms can arrive in every season. A divorce, the illness or death of a parent, your own illness, a layoff, even buying a home or having a child — these and other life events often create huge financial challenges. If you don't know what to do about them, they can result in a loss of financial stability, and in frayed relationships, debt, and increased emotional and financial insecurity.
Yet the fascinating — and ultimately empowering — truth is that you can, almost always, sense when financial trouble is coming. Like the man in the parable above, you often receive multiple warnings. You see the gathering clouds, perhaps in your shrinking mutual fund balances or in an announcement of future layoffs at your company. You hear alarming stock market reports on the nightly financial news. You have inklings that both your circumstances and your actions, or lack of action, are putting you in harm's way. When you ignore what the signs and your own senses are telling you, you are not a victim. In a sense, you are a volunteer.
I travel the country, sometimes talking with dozens of people a week about their money. I often ask someone, "What keeps you from doing that which you know you should do with your money?" What I hear back frequently is, "I don't know who to go to for the right advice. I don't even know what questions to ask." And, "I'm afraid of making a mistake with my money." Even though people know in their hearts and minds that they should take action, they are paralyzed with fear.
And now let me ask you the same question: What keeps you from doing that which you know you should do with your money?
I don't want you to be hampered by lack of knowledge of what to do. Of course there will be many times in your life when you look back and say, "If I only knew then what I know now...." Sometimes, nothing other than time, mistakes, and experience could have served as your teacher, but when it comes to money, I believe from the bottom of my heart that you do not have to suffer to learn. You can learn today what you need to do now — and may need to do tomorrow — and this book can help you.
Some people prosper when times are challenging, and some people never do, even in good times. Some people endure serious personal financial storms and come out stronger than ever before; others get swept away. The difference is this: Those who do well in both good times and bad timesmanage their money from a position of power rather than acting out of hope, anger, regret, or fear. They know how to take risks, and they know when to take shelter, because they instinctively understand the laws of money.
The laws of money in this book are simple truths that will help you to be okay no matter what happens in your financial life. They are your guide to financial reason. Even more than that, they are your guide to true financial well-being, in good times and bad. They are supremely rational, and their purpose is to give you the reins to control your irrational emotions when they arise.
Let's look at an example. One of the laws of money is "Always remember: money has no power of its own"; all its power flows through you. Let's imagine for a moment that the man in the parable above had a similar law to guide him — for example, that God has no power to act directly; that he can act only through human beings. If the man had kept this law in mind, he might have ignored storm warnings given by the town's authorities, but he would certainly not have failed to hop aboard the boat or the helicopter that offered him a route to safety. In the same way, when you keep a law of money in mind, it will guide you to the safest route to your financial future.
The laws of money are protective, practical — and essential. They transcend the ups and downs of the economy, and they transcend age and your current financial situation. No matter how old you are, or where you stand with your money right now, these five laws will help you. These laws are universal principles — and all basic, sound financial practices can be traced to them. They are all that you need in order to work effectively with your money. In fact, these laws of money encompass the other laws about which I have written in my previous books. With these five laws, you can grasp your financial destiny and take control of your present and future finances.
Perhaps you are overwhelmed by credit card debt. Or perhaps you want a larger house but don'tknow if you can afford one without risking your future security. Maybe you are afraid to buy or sell a stock in the current financial climate. The laws in this book are here for you to follow so that you will be able to keep your money safe and invest it with the power to grow. They will help you weather what happens in the economy or your personal life. You will be less likely to lose what you have because you didn't know what to do with it. And you will be better able to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and sound.
Isn't this what you want most from your money — the security of knowing that you will always have at least enough to pay for your home and support your family, acquire the necessities of life, educate your children, and retire in relative comfort?
Yes, I'm sure it is; it's what most of us want. But I want you to have even more than that. I want you to have all that you feel you deserve. If you follow these laws and take action, you can.
Here are a few of the things you will learn in this book:
Why actions based on uncontrolled fear will never make you rich.
Why transforming the unknown into the known is a major key to wealth.
How always telling the truth increases the flow of money into your life.
Why — depending on your age, your level of fear, or your financial situation — there are times when you must act and times when you must do nothing.
Money itself is a teacher. You learn the lessons that tell you who you are in many ways — through relationships, through school and work, through what gives you pleasure and pain, by trying to make your dreams come true. But one of the primary ways you learn who you are is through your money: how you make it, spend it, share it, save it, open your hands to it, or block its flow.
If you adhere to the simple laws contained in this book, the lessons you learn from your money will be life-affirming ones. After all, money's laws are not here to restrict you. They are here to make you safe, to keep you from causing financial harm to yourself or others, and to bring you profound financial, emotional, and spiritual rewards. In short, they allow you to live the life you deserve. Be more, have more, create more. That's the sequence. You can do it. It's not an empty promise. It's a law.
Copyright © 2003 by The Suze Orman Revocable Trust
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