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When I was 13, my dad owned his own business—a tiny shack where he sold chicken, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries. One day the oil that the chicken was fried in caught fire. In a few minutes the whole place exploded in flames. My dad bolted from the store before the flames could engulf him.

Then my mom and I arrived on the scene, and we all stood outside watching the fire burn away my dad’s business. All of a sudden, my dad realized he had left his money in the metal cash register inside the building, and I watched in disbelief as he ran back into the inferno before anyone could stop him.

He tried to open the metal register, but the intense heat had already sealed the drawer shut. Knowing that every penny he had was locked in front of him about to go up into flames, he picked up the scalding metal box and carried it outside. When he threw the register on the ground, the skin on his arms and chest came with it. He had escaped the fire safely once, untouched. Then he voluntarily risked his life and was severely injured. The money was that important.

That was when I learned that money is obviously more important than life itself. From that point on, earning money—lots of money—not only became what drove me professionally, but also became my emotional priority.

Suze Orman, 9 Steps to Financial Freedom (Random House, 2000), p. 3

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