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I admire the speakers at the International Leadership Summit, founded by leader Bill Hybels in 2000.  Each year speakers from all over the world share on pressing, challenging topics.  One particular talk in 2010 was by Ugandan economist, Andrew Rugarsira, who founded the company Good African Coffee.  He spoke and shared on how the only way we will get Africa out of poverty is through TRADE and not AID.  He advocates for Financial Leaders who earn their wealth for the benefit of other people.  They value people above money.  Their motto is: People first, then Money, then Things.  A person who is held captive by Money is someone who value money above people.  Their motto is Money First, Then Things, Then People.

As Business Professional and in our Profession, we first have a responsibility to be Personal Financial Leaders before we can be Business Financial Leaders.  We all have the opportunity to become Personal Financial Leaders.  But how do we do it and where do we start?  Well I had the same question. Before you and I can deal wisely with our Finances we need to have the ability to lead ourselves effectively. And the 1st step in leading ourselves effectively with our finances is financial self-awareness.

Before we can lead ourselves with the technical side of our finances we need to understand how and why we deal with our money the way we do on the softer side.  Right now, how do we gain that understanding?

The International leader of Personal Financial Leadership is Suze Orman, New York Times Best Seller Author, she hosts her own radio and TV show on Personal Finances.  She has earned the reputation of the world’s favourite Financial Advisor and she has lectured extensively throughout the US and South Africa, changing the way people think about and invest their money.

In her book 9 Steps to Financial freedom she shares that what she has learned from the stories of her clients is how we deal with our money as adults has more to do with our past than we think. Our thoughts can keep us captive and our thoughts are influenced by our past.  Our money thoughts’ fears and many times our habits are the manifestation of our fears. By emphasizing the psychological and spiritual power money has in our lives Suze Orman has helped millions of people to break through the barriers that hold them back.


Therefore, is a very important question that we need to ask ourselves is:

What is the money memory that influenced my money thoughts and created my money fears that resulted in my money habits?

Now thinking about your childhood and trying to remember your 1st interaction with money may take a while to remember.  An easier step to remember the memory is to think about your current money habits.  We get quite a few habits.  They include the givers, the spenders, the undeserving, the losers, the stingy, the spongers, the controllers, and the addicts.  Now to illustrate the manifestation of each habit and how it links to a fear and a childhood memory, I am going to share stories of people that I have worked with as a coach or stories of people that I have read that is relevant.


Givers are the people who will steal from themselves or go into debt to help others financially.  They struggle to say NO because they fear they will be rejected.  They give to be accepted.  A story that illustrates this link is the story of Suze Orman. Let met read her story.  “When I was 8 years old my friends and I would go to the neighbourhood pool to swim.  It cost R5 to get in.  One Saturday as usual I said to my mom:” Can I have R5 to go swimming?”  and she said: “Sorry Suze, but we do not have R5 to give right now.  But do not tell your friends you don’t have any money because of you do they will not like you anymore.”  I suddenly felt that I was different from my friends, that I had less than they did and that they would not like me if they knew.  After that night, once my mom and dad were asleep, I would go through my father’s pockets where he kept his money.  I would take some bills out of his pocket, R5, R10.  I would take that money, not to spend on myself but to buy my friends gifts, a comic book, candy, a toffee apple.  Why did I start to do that? Because I wanted my friends to think I had money, for if I had money they would like me and accept me.  How long did I continue to do that?  Until I was 20 or 30 years of age.  I do not mean I continued to steal from my father, but I stole from myself in the form of taking my friends out to lunch, buying them gifts for birthdays, weddings and holidays and charging it all on my credit card even though I did not have money to pay for it” Suze’s fear of rejection and habit of giving was a manifestation of her childhood memory.


Spenders find it very difficult to differentiate between a NEED and a WANT.  They will buy an item that they want but do need believing that they need it.  A spender fears that tomorrow he may not have money and therefore he spends it now.  One African male that I worked with grew up with limited money in the house. He explained his memory as follows: “We struggled to keep ends meet and there was never enough money, food and clothes in the house.  Everything that my parents bought were always needed necessities in the household. “As he grew older, found a job and earned money, he still lived with the fear that he may not have enough money in future and everything that he bought he felt he needed.  He said:” Adel, I will go home this afternoon and buy something at the grocery shop just because I fear that I will not have the money tomorrow and I feel I need to spend it.” What we have identified in the session is that he has 2 teenage daughters who love Rihanna and Beyoncé and they also WANT to wear the brands and the shoes and the hair! They do not need the brands but his challenge as a father is that he cannot say no because he fears that there may not be enough in future and he also struggles to Identify that what his 2 beautiful daughters WANT is a WANT and not a NEED.


One lady that I worked with had the following memory: “My mother had many challenges.  She had to experience my father’s physical abuse and addictions to alcohol and other women many times and made the right decision to leave the circumstances.  She lost both her parents at the age of 30 which left her with 2 young children and a limited support structure – no husband, no parents. Trying to find jobs and income my mother moved with us 30 times in 20 years staying with friends and family. The result of this life was that I always felt inferior and undeserving I did not believe that I had value. I behaved undeserving and I believe people treated me that way – at most of my jobs I earned the least Money and I did not always believe that I deserved more money or a higher position.


One 22 year old guy that I worked with had a fear of losing his money and what it can buy. He did not save money and he also struggled to commit to his girlfriend because he was afraid he would loose it. Now what happened in his past that could lead to this fear?  We identified that his childhood memory was:” when I was 11 years old my mother put my pocket money in a small plastic bag and she tied it to my inner pants so that I do not loose it on the way so school.  I grew up in Zululand and walking to school was a far journey.  Somehow, to this day I still do not know how, I lost the money on my way to school.”  After working with this young man, he understood where his fear started and he was able to start to face the fear by committing to his girlfriend and save money because what he had to embrace was what happened in the past is not going to repeat itself in the future.  I am grateful that he came to this realization early in his life at the age of 22, because now he will be able to deal with his money in a much freer way!


Being cheap has nothing to do with how much money you have.  You can be rich and cheap or poor and generous.  Suze Orman explains that cheap people guard their water glasses and hoard what they have to make sure nothing flows out.  People who are cheap are letting their money stagnate.  What they are missing is the serenity that money handled responsibly and generously can bring to them.  I have recently worked with a lady who is a single mother of three.  She looked forward to buy her dream house for her and her kids for R250 000 in 2007.  A glamorous property agent who signed a code of conduct to guide his clients with wisdom and deal with their money with integrity, assisted her with the purchase of a reposed home.  But because of his cheapskate money greed and lust for money he defrauded her!  While she was buying the house, he was selling the house to 3 other buyers as well.  How did he do it?  Well, he developed a scam where he bribed a banker and lawyer to approve home bonds and registration of reposed properties to more than one client.  After the transactions he disappeared with their money and has no guilt of what anguish and financial debt he has put the clients.  Like this mother of three who now, four years later, is paying off a bond for a property that is registered in her name but she has not been able to stay in the house because all the other buyers also claim that it is their property.


A sponger is someone who feels victimized and that the world owes him or her including money!  A lady that I worked with has a brother who is older than her and who has been staying with her and her husband since they have been married without paying any rent.  Her brother has never kept a job and finds excuses for not having one.  He takes no responsibility for his life.  Now what could have happened during their childhood that resulted in one child being a responsible adult and another being irresponsible?  Well when they were young their dad had an affair.  No normally the son finds his identity in DAD.  He was disappointed with what his father did and played victim as a young child – his dad felt guilty and tried to buy the love of his son with money and things.  Unfortunately, he did not outgrow this and now 20 years later, he is still playing victim, hoping that his family will buy his love and acceptance.  The challenge for this lady is that if she and her husband do not set the boundaries with her brother now, she is going to end up with a 60-year-old brother who is still a sponger!


I worked with a lady with quite a sad story.  She is addicted to gambling and she cannot get out of it!  She lost her husband in the process. She has 2 children under the age of 5 who is suffering because of the addiction – she will either leave them at home or she would leave them somewhere at the Casino in someone else’s care.  She is drowned in debt because of her addiction and she has gone to the point where she would get a boyfriend, borrow his phone, sell it for money to gamble and then tell her boyfriend that she has lost the phone!  Her performance at her job is affected and she is scared that she will lose her job.  I admire this woman for being so honest and for taking the 1st step to Recovery – Admitting my addiction.  She became part of a Support group and consulted a Debt Counsellor to assist her and freeze her debt.  My hope is that she will become a free woman with a powerful story to tell!


Identifying your money habits and how it links to your PAST is a powerful step to Personal Financial Leadership.  This step may open up deep emotional wounds and pain.  The majority of people that I have worked with and stories I have read, remember a memory that leaves them SAD!  But if you want to begin to live a life of Financial Freedom and Abundance you need to deal with your PAIN, otherwise it will wait for you!



Now I have shared some SAD stories with you.  But I would like to close with a story of someone who lived with Abundance and the impact that it had not only on his live but also the live of Suze Orman.  And I believe that Suze Orman would not have been the leader who she is today if it was not for Uncle Fred Hasbrook.  I’d like to share the story with you by reading it from Suze’s Autobiography:

“In 1980 after six years of waitressing when I was 29 years old, I had this thought that I could be more than just a waitress. I wanted to own my own restaurant. I called up my parents and asked to borrow $20,000. My mom said, “Honey, where do you expect us to come up with this? We don’t have that kind of money to give you.” I should have known better than to ask for something I knew my parents didn’t have to give away. There’s nothing a parent wants more than to help a child realize a dream; I knew my mother would have done anything to help me, but she was powerless. I felt awful.

 The next day at work, a man I had been waiting on for six years, Fred Hasbrook, noticed that I wasn’t my usual cheerful self. “What’s wrong, sunshine? You don’t look happy,” he said. I told Fred about having asked my parents for a $20,000 loan. Fred ate his breakfast and then talked to some of the other customers I’d been waiting on all those years. Before he left the restaurant, he came up to the counter and handed me a personal check for $2,000, a bunch of other checks and commitments from the other customers that totalled $50,000, and a note that read:





I couldn’t believe my eyes. “I have to ask you a question,” I said to Fred. “Are these checks going to bounce like all of mine do?” “No, Suze,” he said. “What I want you to do is to put this in a money market account until you’ve raised enough money to open your

restaurant.” “Fred,” I said, what is a money market account?” After a brief tutorial from Fred, I went to deposit the money. Whenever I tell this story, people want to know what happened to Fred. When I repaid his money, it surprised me that I didn’t hear from him. From time to time I would write or call and leave a message, but I never heard back. Then, in May of 1984, I got a letter from Fred, who, it turned out, had suffered a stroke—the reason I hadn’t heard from him all that time. In his letter he wrote:

Dear Suze, I had not intended to be this long in writing you a note of appreciation for your check repaying our loan from the Buttercup era. However, it seems that words don’t come as easily to me as they once did. The check arrived at a critical time in my affairs and for that I am grateful. That loan may have been one of the best investments that I will ever make. Who else could have invested in a counter girl with porcelain blue eyes and a million-dollar personality and watch that investment mature into a successful career woman who still has porcelain blue eyes and a million-dollar personality? How few investors have that opportunity? I am working hard to get my affairs in order so that you and I can both make each other some money. Until then I would like to remain on your list of friends who wish you the very best of everything no matter what paths you may travel in the future. Fondly, Fred Hasbrook.

Fred passed away a few years ago. I’ll never forget the man who believed in me, who helped me put aside my shame and rewrite the story history had handed me.” (Orman, 2006)


Reading the story of how Fred impacted Suze’s life by being abundant with his money and letting it flow freely through him to impact her life, made me realize what an impact each of us could make, if we break the bondage of our past money memories, face our money fears, change our money habits and realize that true wealth is in people not in money and things.


Suze Orman believes that if we live in accordance with the following 5 laws true riches of all kinds will come our WAY:

  1. May every thought that you think be etched in fire in the sky for the whole world to see, for in fact it is.
  2. May every word that you say be said as if everyone in the world could hear it, for in fact they can.
  3. May every deed that you do recoil on top of your head, for in fact it will.
  4. May every wish that you wish another be a wish that you wish for yourself, because in fact it is.
  5. May everything you do be done as if God himself is doing it, for in fact he is.


RICH or POOR your life will touch many other lives, and the way in which it touches them is your choice and will determine the LEGACY you leave our country.  Please make your LEGACY a rich one.


Author & Contributor: Adel Du Plessis CA(SA) – (LinkedIn Bio – https://www.linkedin.com/in/adel-du-plessis-87961b17/)

Resources used in this Article:

Du Plessis A.  (2010). The Financial Leadership Story.  The Leadership Surge Audio Resources.

Orman S, (2006). The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom & Financial Guidebook (SA Edition).  USA: Creative Life Publishers

Rugarsira A, (2010).  Aid versus Trade.  Global Leadership Summit DVD. Willow Creek Association SA.

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