Impunity in the Philippines

Suze Orman and why jewelry are bad investments

She was a waitress, lost her savings, worked at Merril Lynch, and the rest was history


Randell TiongsonMANILA, Philippines – When I received a call from Bank of the Philippine Islands inviting me for an exclusive media meeting with the world’s most popular and probably influential personality in personal finance, it took me about half a second to say yes. I would be crazy to pass up this opportunity to meet Suze Orman up close and personal.

Millions of Americans follow Suze Orman who is the equivalent of Oprah Winfrey in the personal finance world. This lady is known for her no-nonsense and very practical approach to finance, especially to those who are financially troubled.

She is a multi-awarded TV Talk show host and a certified international best-seller for the many books she has written. To us personal finance advocates, she is an icon.

But who is Suze Orman really and what makes her so successful? Her career did not start as a stock broker or a financial analyst. She was a waitress.

In fact, she was a waitress until she was 30. As a waitress, she saved some money to put up a restaurant of her own but thought of giving it to Merril Lynch first to grow her investment.

In 3 months, the broker lost her money so she was forced to look for employment. Ironically, she ended up being hired by Merrill Lynch themselves and the rest was history.

She loves Filipinos

Nearly all of Orman’s household staff are Filipinos and she clearly loves being around them. She understands our culture and she said that we are a very caring and helpful group of people.

She is well aware of the phenomenon of our OFWs sending their entire hard earned money home and not leaving some for their own future, something she feels is a big problem for us.

She also employs about 40 call center agents that are based here to handle business inquiries for her products and services.

Coming to the Philippines is a promise she gave Doris Magsaysay–Ho and made possible by the BPI.

It is interesting to note that Orman did not charge a single dollar for her appearances in the Philippines and she even paid for her own plane ticket.

All about Prudence

Suze Orman preaches about prudence in the handling of money.

On Monday, she reminded us that whenever our incomes increases, our expenses should not and that’s the key to having a stress free financial life.

She gave some practical tips that really made a lot of sense.

On Investing

She reminded us that jewelry are actually bad investments and that people buy them only to impress others and not as a real investment.

Houses are not investments; they are bought for us to live in.

However, she likes gold and recommends it to be part of one’s portfolio. She confesses that gold is a substantial part of her own personal portfolio.

On Debt

Suze Orman is a firm believer of money over debt.

She harped on not being in debt and that millions of lives in the U.S. are destroyed by debt. She said that millions of Americans leverage their debt and many investments are about leveraging which she categorically states as a bad thing.

It is also foolish to get an equity from your home and purchase another piece of property as this is a leading reason why Americans are in trouble today.

She believes that debt can and will make an economy collapse.

Practical Advice

She reminded us that we need to be careful whenever we help saying that “sometimes when you help, you actually hurt people.” She encouraged Filipinos to be self-reliant and not be too dependent on remittances.

Former actress and Mommy advocate Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan asked on how she can teach her kids to be more prudent in the handling of their money.

Orman suggested that, as parents, we should tell our children why we give them money so they will not feel entitled to it.

She recommended that we teach our own kids to earn their keep and pay them when they help around the house.

She also encouraged the parents in the crowd that it’s ok for kids to make mistakes on money. The younger they make mistakes the better. They will surely learn that way.

These are truly nuggets of financial wisdom from a lady who truly cares about financial wellness. –
Suze Orman in ManilaThe Panglinans and Suze Orman

Randell Tiongson is an advocate of Life & Personal Finance. He is a Director of the Registered Financial Planner Institute (Phils.) and has over 20 years experience in the financial services industry. He is also a columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer and was chosen as one of the 12 Most Influential People in Personal Finance by Moneysense. For speaking engagements, financial planning, training and consultancy, send an e-mail to To read his personal finance blogs, visit

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