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My (Fabulous) Date with Suze Orman

I recently had the privilege of meeting Suze Orman (@suzeormanshow on Twitter) for an hour long meeting… that turned into 3 hours. First, the answers to your burning questions:
· Does Suze always wear fabulous jackets in real life? Yes, yes she does.
· Is Suze really tan? Yep. And she has nice white teeth too.
· Does she frequently say “fabulous,” call everyone “hey boyfriend” or use phrases like “girlfriend, you need to get real” in real life? Yes, yes, and yes.
· Is Suze really the nation’s best personal finance guru? Actually, I think she just might be.

I’d like to think I know a thing or two about personal finance. It is, after all, my personal passion, and why I started Mint. But in talking to Suze about my views on investing, emergency funds, bank fees, and the all important human element in personal finance, it is clear that 30 years of daily interactions with real people having real money problems makes her the master.

Suze is a larger-than-life personality. She can suck you in with her irresistible charisma. And she’s using that knowledge and that charisma for good. One example: she negotiated a deal with TD Ameritrade where if you put in $100 for 12 months straight, they’ll give you your $100 back in month 13. That’s an 8.3% guaranteed return on your money – better than you can get in any CD or savings account right now. Over 100,000 people have signed up at: saveyourself.com. That’s how powerful her advice is. Multi-national corporations listen to her…even the head of the FDIC listens to her: myfdicinsurance.gov. Note the picture with the fabulous jacket. ;-)

Now, I’m sure there are some of you for whom Suze’s tough love advice, or big personality are not appealing. But Suze has an undeniable appeal to an audience that has been largely underserved: women, and young people (see her “Young, Broke & Fabulous” book). And that’s a good thing.

Traditional personal finance services and tools have been built, well, for middle-aged men. If you look at the demographic of Quicken desktop, for example, its users are 46 and they’re 85% male. One of the things I’m most proud of at Mint is opening up personal finance to a whole new audience: our average user is 30, and new users come in at a 60/40 male/female split. One stat that truly humbles me: 94% of our female users have recommended Mint.com to friends or to their spouse. We’ve created a tool that’s easy enough (and fun enough) for everyone.

And that’s where Suze comes in. Mint.com and Suze are now friends. Yes, we like to announce these things. Fabulous friends? Well, maybe one day. Until then, though, Suze says she’ll answer any Mint.com user’s money questions via Twitter: @suzeormanshow and include #mint. It’s not a team, it’s not her assistant, she answers all of these questions herself. Her only rule is it has to be a 140 character question or less.