Gail Vaz-Oxlade! I chose Gail for my financial mentor because she seems to believe in balance. Finding balance has become my personal mission, and honestly, I think Suze Orman is lacking in that area. Here's what I mean:
Suze Orman has a segment on her show called, "Can I Afford It?" where people call in, tell Suze they want to spend money on whatever, and Suze goes through their financial profile and approves or denies the request. Some are a no-brainer, some need to be puzzled out. Suze always explains why she approves or denies each request. However. Once in a while a caller will be approved, but Suze will say, "I've approved you, but now I want to talk you out of doing this. If you put this money away for retirement now, you will have XXX in fifty years. Your whatever can wait." One such caller was a woman who had finished graduate school with no student loans. She had a job that was starting in four months, and she wanted to spend the interim traveling through Europe. She had cash saved for the trip. Suze approved the request, but tried to talk her out of going saying Europe would still be there in ten or twenty years.
Well, of course Europe will still be there, but really, Suze, do you think this woman will have FOUR MONTHS away from work to just go wander? I doubt it. She also may be married or raising kids in ten or twenty years. She might have aging parents who need her help. She might have a dog and a mortgage and a big pile of responsibility. Right then, she had the time, she had the money, and she had the desire. Suze still tried to talk her out of it.
Now, when Gail counsels a family, she doesn't try to talk them out of living their dreams. She does, however, teach them how to budget for them. No matter how tight a family's budget is, Gail always has something set aside for entertainment. Sometimes it's only ten bucks, but it's something. She recognizes the need to have some fun once in a while.
Gail had a couple who were planning to put their honeymoon on their already straining credit cards. Gail didn't tell them not to go, she told them not to go without having the cash first. She helped them budget the trip, she sent them to a travel show to learn how to find the best deals, and she helped them figure out that if they really wanted the honeymoon, they would have to work extra hours for six months prior to save the cash up. That, to me, is the better way.