New Exhibition Explores Our Love and Hate of Money

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October 18, 2012

NEW YORK, Oct 18 (Reuters) - How does money make you feel? Fearful, stressed, happy?

U.S. financial guru Suze Orman has teamed with the producer of the popular Body Worlds exhibits for a new traveling show to look at how we relate to and understand money.

Orman, media star and author of best-selling books on personal finance, described the finance-themed exhibit as “an extension of my life’s work as a financial educator, and an innovative way to teach people about money”.

The interactive, multi-media exhibit, “Economia: Money Matters,” will begin a five-year, nationwide tour in the fall of next year, starting in Chicago. The admission-charging show will move on to other venues that include science and natural history museums.

Gail Vida Hamburg, who designed and developed the exhibition, said she hit on the idea several years ago.

“I found a study about worry, stress and depression and their links to money or rather the lack of money ... I realized that I could synthesize all of this information into a designed exhibition with multimedia and interactives (displays),” said Hamburg, who designed the Body Worlds traveling exhibition of preserved human corpses that has toured Europe, North America and Asia.

The Money Matters exhibit spans 7,000 square feet with galleries on phases of life ranging from College Road to Third Phase, or retirement. It aims to meet national and state financial literacy goals for children and adults.

Hamburg, who founded museum exhibit firm Rainworks Omnimedia in 2010, believes the show’s appeal is universal because money is something that everyone has a relationship with throughout life.

Orman has described the show as a walk through the life of money, and the effect it can have on you.

“It will be entertaining,” she said in a statement, “and when you’re having fun learning, the lessons stay with you.”

Hamburg said she addressed finance’s fear factor by engaging people with various exhibits and displays.

“How do you make it easy for visitors to understand the power of compounding?” she asked, adding that it has traditionally been taught with graphs or charts or calculators.

She decided to approach it differently using visitor prompts, and entry into a computer terminal and to show the results through the growth of actual physical objects.

“We should all be so smart with money and channel our inner Suze Orman. But we’re not and we don‘t. Unless you’re an MBA or an economist or a freak, you don’t want to read about SEP-IRA or social security or student loan interest rates.”

The goal of the exhibition “is to give visitors the tools and resources for financial self actualization,” she added.

Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Patricia Reaney and Andrew Hay

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Answer Yes or No to the follow statements.

I pay all my credit card bills in full each month.

I have an eight-month emergency savings fund separate from my checking or other bank accounts.

The car I am driving was paid for with cash, or a loan that was no more than three years, and I sure didn’t lease!

I am contributing at least 10% of my gross salary to a retirement plan at work, or I am saving at least that much in an IRA and/or regular taxable account.

I have a long-term asset allocation plan for my retirement investments, and once a year I check to see if I need to do any rebalancing to stay on target with my allocation goals.

I have term life insurance to provide protection to those who are dependent on my income.

I have a will, a trust, an advance directive (living will), and have appointed someone to be my health care proxy.

I have checked all the beneficiaries of every investment account and insurance policy within the past year.

So how did you do?

If you answered yes to every item, congratulations. If you are working on improving on a few items, I say congratulations as well.

As long as you are comitted to truly creating financial security, I applaud you. If that means you are paying down your credit card balances, or are building up your emergency fun with automated payments, that’s more than fine. You are on your way!

But if you found yourself saying No to any of those questions, and you’re not working on moving to Yes, then I want you to stand in your truth. No matter how good you feel, you have some work to do before you can honestly know what you are on solid financial ground.

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