“An empowered woman doesn’t say, ‘Can I have a selfie with you?'” financial expert and author Suzie Orman said last Saturday. She says, ‘Take a selfie with me!'”
The financial expert and author was in the middle of a mob of young female Millennials demanding a pose-and-snap after giving her first talk of the day as the main attraction at the Mogul X conference in Maspeth, Queens. She patiently posed for photo after photo before speaking with Ladders.
We asked Orman an age-old work question: what would she advise someone who is being given more responsibility but not much more money at work?
“You can turn that into a positive,” Orman said. “You have got to make those that you’re dependent on a paycheck for, dependent on you. When they feel that they have power over you, they’re never going to give you more money. Why would they? You’ll settle for anything.”
“So how do you turn that around? You turn that around by making them so dependent on you. You show up early, you go home late, you do whatever. And then, you demand what you want.”
“But you don’t say, ‘I want a 10% pay raise.’ You always ask an open-ended question. ‘I want you to give me a 10% or 15% pay raise.’ That is not a yes or no answer. Then you have them.”
“Where the mistakes are made are: They know you need the money. They know you need the job. So, therefore, you’ll settle.”
“But if you get yourself in a situation where you have an emergency fund, you don’t have credit card debt, and you have something – now they see your worth. And you can ask for anything you want.”
Save it and pay it off
Orman had some advice for Millennials who found themselves behind in saving for retirement because their careers were stalled by the financial crisis.
“So, here’s the thing,” she said on how to catch up. “If you work for a corporation that offers a 401k, a 403b, a TSP, whatever it is – that matches your contribution… I don’t care if you don’t have a pot to pee in, I don’t care about how much credit card debt you have, I don’t care about any of that. You cannot pass up free money.” Only invest up to the point of the match, she said.
“The next step,” Orman said, “is if your company offers a Roth 401K, a Roth 403b, choose that option over the beforeo-tax option. Give up your tax write-up today so you can get all that money tax-free later on.”
“After that, if you have student loan debt and credit card debt, you gotta get out of your credit card debt. You gotta start paying your student loans and credit cards every month. Stay current. Debt is bondage. So you have to start being smart with your money and not be afraid of it. You have to start getting more pleasure out of saving than you do spending. And unless you make that decision to make yourself your number one priority to get your yourself out of debt, to start saving for retirement – you are going to be so screwed when you get older, it’s not even funny.”
Orman also said that people with student loans should prioritize paying those off first over savings – but here’s the way to do it.
“But when I say pay them off, I don’t mean in entirety. You should really try to be on the Standard Repayment Plan with your student loans. If you have too high of an interest rate, and you have a good FICO score, you may want to look into refinancing into a fixed rate loan with either Sallie Mae or College Avenue; there’s also Discover.
“If you could just get yourself on track to have your student loan paid off in ten years, and you’re making those payments on time, now let’s deal with credit card debt. You should do what I call the avalanche method – [paying off cards with the] highest interest rate to lowest.”
And after paying off both kinds of debt, Orman said, “Then work on your emergency fund and savings.”
Orman is the author of nine consecutive New York Times bestsellers on personal finance and hosts a podcast called Women & Money.