December 22, 2019
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In this special holiday podcast, Suze is once again joined by her spouse, KT. Listen to how they really make the season special, and how you can do the same, without going into debt.
All right, it is the first day of Hanukkah. It is also three days before Christmas, so this obviously, is the gift-giving time of year. And so with that said, I was thinking, all right, what is the greatest gift that I've ever been given?Me...Well, I guess she just butted in, she just gave it away. That's KT for you.It's KT and happy holidays, everybody. I can't tell you how excited I am to be back. Suze let me in, she let me in her sacred space. This is her recording studio, someday I'll publish a photo of what it looks like. It's fabulous, it's tiny. She doesn't ever need a lot of space, but I'm in.And since she's back, everybody, for those of you who don't know that is KT. KT stands for a Kathy Travis, and KT and I have been together now for about how long?Twenty years, I know, it gets better every year.We're going on 20 years. That's something, huh? But I still think we're on 19 but she wants to push it to 20, I guess that is a good sign. But here's the scoop. KT and I did do a podcast a number of months ago. Do you want to know what was so strange about that podcast? That was one of the most popular podcasts of the over 100 podcasts that I've done, and ever since that podcast, what have you been saying, KT?When can I come back, Suze? No, listen, let me just talk for a minute. Everyone wanted me back and I kept saying, hey, when can I come back? She said, OK, Thanksgiving, you can come back. Then Thanksgiving passes and I said, Suze, let's do our podcast. No, you were too busy. You're cooking, you're with the family. Forget it, I have a deadline, KT, it's over. Then Thanksgiving passes and she said, you know what? We're going to do one together for Christmas because can I tell them why? Suze hates Christmas.Wait, before you go on. Do you think, everybody listening to this, do you think the powerful Suze Orman has any say when it comes to Miss Travis? I do not. So go ahead, girl.So she said, let's do Christmas and let's tell everyone what it's like to experience Christmas every year with Suze. It's kind of like the same thing that happens when hurricane season arrives. She gets prepared, she doesn't like it, she thinks it's going to put tons of people in debt. All the holiday gift-giving, all the shopping, all the stress. Suze does not like Christmas.Wait, wait, wait, KT. Let me just tell everybody. It's not that I hate the spirit of Christmas. I hate the pressure that everybody goes into or under whatever you want to say to get gifts for Christmas. KT, do you know all the years that I was a financial advisor seeing clients...You should see the smile, she is smiling. She looks so pretty. I have to tell everybody, this is such a big deal that I get to come into her recording studio. She took a really nice shower, made her hair real pretty, she put on a beautiful blouse. Suze looks so pretty right now in this little box that we're in.What do you want from me, KT? What do you want from me? Why are you giving me compliments here?I'm just saying that you look really great.Well, I just couldn't look worse than I've looked for the past week.She was so sick. Does everyone know you were really sick?Yes, I told them on the Thursday podcast. And I told them that you wouldn't come near me because you couldn't get sick, because if you got sick, everything went down. But can you all hear she does have a little frog in her voice? I don't know, KT.No, I'm good.You look good. Anyway, so back to the point that I was making, which is I would work so hard with my clients to get them out of debt. January, February, March, June, August, September, October. We were almost out of debt. Then came November and December and they went right back into debt. You know why? To buy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, all kinds of gifts for the holidays, and it would drive me crazy. And I felt so bad because I understand all the pressure that all of you are under to give gifts, to especially your kids, your grandkids. But how do you do that when you don't have any money? All right, go ahead, KT.So, Suze hates the holidays. I love holidays, but not for buying gifts or receiving or giving. We make things in our family, I think you've talked about this before in the past. We make gifts, we don't buy them.So let's start from the beginning.No, but wait, let me finish telling why I love it. I love it because it's a time that we gather, I love the decorating, I love the cooking. I'm Italian, so we have this Italian tradition where we make these pastries called gooch. And this was passed down from my great-grandma. And now Suze makes them and they're beautiful pastries in the shape of a fish, very befitting for our island lifestyle. And we wrap those up and make them, then we present this as our gift to all of our friends. So we deliver, we go around, and I make Suze wear a little like little Christmas outfit and we go around in our golf cart and deliver these pastries, these little cookies, and they love it. I can't believe that I do it. They wait actually every year, and not for what we could buy them, but for what we made them. And this is a tradition that actually started when I first met KT. Not just with the gooch, but we had to lay down family laws because, at the time that I met KT, KT has two sisters and three brothers. But we always celebrated with the sisters and their kids. But the younger sister, her kids were only like three or four and one and two, whatever it was when Aunt Suze came into the picture. So we had to have new rules. What were those rules, KT?We don't buy gifts, we make gifts for each other. And I have to tell you, those children, our nieces, and nephew are now 22 and 20. If you were to interview them and say, what are the best Christmas memories you have with Aunt Suzy and Aunt Kathy? They call me and Kathy, they will tell you that the year in San Francisco that we took scrap wood and made a tree and decorations that we made by hand. The year that...We also made a menorah because we celebrate almost everything. Why not? Go on, go on, KT.And if we ask those kids about the memories I remember one year they made us, for us, the children made like 1000 little origami cranes. And they displayed them in the form of a Christmas tree.But here was the point. For years and years and years, I refused to let anybody in this family buy a Christmas tree. I was like, no way are we spending money on a tree that we're then going to throw away. But here's what we are going to do. We're going to go down to where the Christmas trees are sold. Do you want to tell this story?No, that was me, I did that.You did it, but whose idea was that?It was my idea.Oh, are you kidding me?Wait, so Suze would not let me have a Christmas tree. This was our first Christmas together in Manhattan, and on the corner of where we lived was a guy that sold trees at night. And he used to cut the bottoms off and had a big pile of scrap. And I said, can I try to create something? And Suze said anything you want to make KT is fine with me. So, I went down and asked if I could have all the scrap cuttings. He said, Lady, take whatever you want, and he gave me a big pile. And I brought them back into the apartment and we had a really nice glass vase for flowers. We filled that up with water and red apples. We sunk apples in it, remember? And we put all those branches in, the cuttings, and made the most beautiful pine arrangement. And that was our way of celebrating the holidays, we loved it.For years and years, little by little. So that might have been her idea. No, but remember, you had an idea when we spent Christmas on the island. Yeah, wait, where were we? Parrot Cay. Oh, Suze, tell them what we did.So, again, there for Christmas we walked the beach and we found driftwood, and we brought it back to the place that we were staying and we found shells and we got string and we hung the shells on the driftwood.In a bucket of sand, and it was so pretty.We could go on and on with 100 of these stories. But here is the main point. For years and years, I refused to let anybody in my family buy Christmas or Hanukkah or holiday gifts as well as birthday gifts. The only gifts that were able to be given in our family were gifts that were made and no money was spent even on the materials to make that gift. You had to figure it out and find it and whatever on your own.Wait, let me tell them about you. Suze gives me, for many occasions, the most precious gift of all. Can you all guess what that would be? So every holiday or special occasion, or remembrance, Suze gifts me with one gift, and I long for this every single year. She writes the most unbelievable letters. One day I may publish them or allow them to be shared. They are so beautiful and so heartwarming and creative and unique and full of love. I can't even find words to describe it, and I talk a lot, everyone.Oh, have you noticed she talks a lot? That's all right, no problem.They are the most precious gift Suze could ever give me.And what do I do, KT, with every little scrap of paper you have ever written on? Since the day I met you, whether it's, you know, I have to go pick this up. Whatever it is, I have saved every single scribble and fabulous letter as well that KT has written to me since the day I met her. You should see how large this box is.She has two boxes now, you started a second one.Yeah, and here's what's interesting about that. I don't collect anything. I collect two things and two things only. Everything else I throw away. I am like this clutter-less freak. It's like, oh, I don't need this, it's gone. I don't want this, gone. It's whatever. But the point is, is that I only collect KT's letters to me and scraps of paper and the coins, the military coins that I've been given over all the years that I've worked with the military. And one day I'll tell you more about those. All right, where do we go from here now, KT?Well, today's the first day of Hanukkah. So should we share a little story about our life on the island and Colombia? This is funny, this is fun everybody. So, Suze and I have a houseman that actually takes care of our property. He actually helped build this home that we live in, and we love him like our son, we absolutely adore him. And he's a big guy, he's young, and his name is Colombia. So Colombia is from Colombia, he is from South America, and he never even knew what Hanukkah was. But when Suze and I were here the first holiday, we lit a menorah. And he said what is that? My grandmother's menorah. That was the only thing I've ever stolen, do you know that?Wait, you stole it? What do you mean, you stole it?Do you remember when my mom was dying...You should not tell people in a podcast that you stole a menorah. She didn't steal it, it was left. She took it from her mother's belongings and didn't ask her two brothers if they would like it. She just took possession. No, you took possession of Grandma Goldy's menorah.Yeah, because I was afraid that my mom was going to give it, it was my grandmother's menorah. When my mama was obviously failing... All right, go on, I obviously have no choice in this, go on.Let me finish the story of Colombia. So I said, Suze, come on, you have to light the candles and sing a little song. And, you know, because I love holidays, I don't care whose they are, I love holidays. So Suze starts lighting the candles and he comes in and he said, what are you doing? I said Colo, this is Hanukkah. And every night for eight nights, Suze's going to, at sunset, will light a candle and sing a little song.It's called a prayer, it's called a prayer.Ok, she sings a little prayer and traditionally, kids, each child would get a little gift each night. He said, oh, I love Hanukkah. So Suze and I, we kind of played a little joke, and we got we actually bought some things for him that he needed, like socks, underwear, sneakers. And every night under the tree, under a Christmas tree, we had a Hanukkah gift for Colombia. And when that sun was going down, he'd run in to be there when she was lighting the menorah. He is 40 by the way, yeah, a 40-year-old big boy, and we gave him his gift and he just loved Hanukkah. So this year, you know, he said, are we going to have Hanukkah again? I said, yes, you have Hanukkah every year. So that's his favorite holiday. And, yes, we do buy him little things, because when you live on an island, there's no way to buy anything. There's no place on this island to buy anything, really, so everything has to be brought in. And for so for Colombia, not for each other, but for Columbia, we do make exceptions and buy him things that he absolutely needs without a shadow of a doubt. Not wants, these are needs.But the main point really of this podcast is that there's a joy in giving of yourself. There's a joy of giving priceless gifts that are beyond anything that you could ever buy for anybody. Do you know when I was first always doing The Today Show and The Oprah Show, I would go out on the streets with my cameras, and The Suze Orman Show, and I would go up to kids, and I would say to them because they were always around 30 Rock, and I would say to them, can you tell me what you got last year for the holidays? And they would look at me and they'd go, um, um, I actually don't remember. Then I started to ask adults, what were you given last year for the holidays? And they couldn't remember. So I'm asking all of you right now. What were you given last year? Ask your kids if they can remember what they were given because here's what's so sad, is most of you have had to put those gifts on your credit cards. Pay the minimum payment due when the bill comes in, it will take you 10 or 15 or 30 years, possibly to pay off those gifts if all you pay is the minimum payment due. And you can't ever remember one year later what it is that you gave, or were given, that people are still paying for. I just think that's crazy. What are you smiling about?We didn't finish about something about Colombia, because he's like our son. He makes every year a gift for Suze. Not for me, because I have to collaborate and help him a little, for Suze, probably because she's the captain of the boat. So he makes it a gift every year, and every year that gift has a nautical theme. And she loves them. Tell them what he made.Yeah, my favorite of all the gifts he made me really is this little sign. And he finds all this material in, you know, the garbage heap of this island where people throw things away. And he made a little sign that says "Gone fishing." And he painted it and he put little fish hooks to hang it up with a little bead, a hanger that he made. So every day when we're out fishing, we hang that on the front door so people know we're not in the house, we're actually out fishing. That is my favorite thing.And then he did another. The sign was so popular that he said, hey, KT, can I make her another sign? I said, of course. He made another one that says "Quiet, please, recording." And he makes Suze these little gifts that are so precious, but they all have a function. It's something that is more meaningful.Can you tell that she really loves this man? And the reason we love him so, by the way, is he's always happy. Oh, we do like our boy, yeah. He's such a happy person.He is always grateful for every little thing that he has, as well as little things that happen on this island. He's been on this island now for almost 20 years. Can you imagine? And he's just so great. Now, what was I talking about when you so interrupted me?About people spending money and how they're still paying for it.Right, so that does bother me. But I just want you to really understand that maybe this is a tradition that you should start. A tradition of giving of yourself more than giving of your money. Giving your love versus giving more of what somebody says they want. It's just, this is a time, this is a time in everybody's life, honest to God, everybody, where I would just so want you to just be as happy, really, as happy as KT and I are. To be as happy as Colombia is, to be as happy as everybody could be if they just came from that true spirit of what's important in life and what you can buy with your money is never going to be what's really important in life.All right, you have one more story, that's it, and then we have to go.So about maybe two or three years into our relationship, we would, I would always be very busy with the family and the visitors and cooking and preparing.Which, by the way, for me was very difficult, because I really wasn't that close to my family. And I didn't have the love in my family that KT has in hers. And I would watch her with her brothers and her sisters and her nieces and her nephews, and her mom and everybody. And I couldn't relate. I was like, can't it just be you and me, KT? Do we always have to share birthdays and holidays with your family? What is this about? Now I get it. But it took me many, many years to understand love, to feel love.Right, KT? It was hard for me. And I bet you anything that people go, Suze Orman, she always had a loving family. She always had this, she always had that. And it wasn't quite that way for me, was it KT?No, it was just different. It was different, everyone's different and your relationship with your family was different. Mine was like, couldn't wait to get together, and we still do. And now you know, Aunt Suze is absolutely right in there with the gang.Yeah, but that I have to tell you, it took literally almost 15 years for me to get it. Just recently has changed in the past four or five years. All right, so go on.So while we're busy getting everything ready, and we usually celebrate the 24th on Christmas Eve. That's an Italian tradition, not necessarily on the 25th of December. I would find everyone busy, I'd say we're Suze? And I go in the back and she'd be in the bedroom by herself on the phone, and she'd have a little list of paper next to her, and I figure oh, she's busy talking to somebody and I'd be quiet and shut the door. And she'd be in there for, like, three hours, and then she'd come out and I'd say, who was that you were on the phone for so long? She said, oh, a number of my friends. I said, oh, who did you call, thinking like they're my friends, too? These were total strangers, total strangers to me, but not to Suze. When she would receive, and this was all started at The Suze Orman Show. She would receive letters or emails, emails from, you know, her fans or people that just needed help. And some of them were so heart wrenching or difficult or challenging that they became Suze's little secret pen pals. And she would have these relationships with total strangers, and on Christmas morning she would call them, and during the holidays, and just comfort them or not let them ever feel alone. And when I think about it, it makes me a little bit emotional thinking about how she changed and continues to change, one at a time, so many lives, so many hearts. So for me, that's the true spirit of Christmas.All right, KT. So it's about to end this podcast. So, everybody, I wrote a little poem for you and I get that it's about Christmas, and I understand that today is the first day of Hanukkah but it's also it's just what came out. So just I wish all of you a happy Hanukkah, obviously, but it's just what came out. So here it is. Are you ready?So it's three days before Christmas and under the tree, the kids are looking and wondering why are there no gifts for me?You have explained to all that money is tight, but the kids are saying we're still going to get presents, right?You have made it this far by not giving in, but the pressure is mounting and the kid's desire and your guilt are starting to win.However, in the back of your mind, you can hear my voice loud and clear, saying, please don't go into debt just to show your loved ones you care.The greatest gift any of you can ever give is the gift of love, a great way to live.So, I don't know why, but I just wrote that this morning. So it's mainly because it's in these last days before Christmas where the pressure mounts and you give in. You go, I'm just going to go and I'm just going to get anything I see so that I have something to give to somebody else. I am asking you to make this holiday season, a holiday season that you give to yourself. This is a holiday season that you say no out of love for yourselves versus yes out of guilt or shame or fear of what others may feel. And this is a holiday season that you know that KT and I wish you, what KT?The happiest of holidays and may your house be blessed with the love that we feel every day in ours. In providing answers, Suze Orman is not acting as a certified financial planner, advisor, a certified financial analyst, an economist, CPA, accountant or lawyer. Suze Orman does not make any recommendations as to any specific securities or investments. All content is for informational and general purposes only and does not constitute financial accounting or legal advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and financial advisors regarding your particular situation. 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