Sarah Ferguson: Finding Her Self-Worth

The troubled Duchess tries to find her path to financial freedom.

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On her new show Finding Sarah, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, struggles to get on top of her life, which famously fell apart. Her downfall culminated in a tabloid-staged “sting” last year, when she appeared to accept money in exchange for access to Prince Andrew, her ex-husband.

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While her life overhaul includes therapy for childhood traumas from Dr. Phil and getting in shape through vigorous walks on the beach, her financial health also plays a big role. Suze Orman herself flies to England to help sort out her money, while Ferguson repeatedly insists that she is terrible with finances. Money, after all, was the motivating factor behind that bribe-gone-wrong.

In case you missed the show, here’s an overview of Fergie’s financial problems:

1. As a royal, she was given an allowance but not able to earn or manage any money of her own. To hear Fergie tell it, being a royal princess is not as wonderful as it seems. There are endless rules to follow, the kitchen is “two miles away” so you have to order your dinner well in advance, and you can’t even open your curtains in your Buckingham Palace bedroom as widely as you might like. (It makes you wonder what the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, is currently experiencing.)

2. When she got divorced from Prince Andrew, she was left with “very little” money. (She declined to provide an amount despite Orman’s insistence; news reports suggest that she was given an allowance of about $24,000 a year.)

3. She had to work hard, writing 30 books and accepting endorsement deals, just to pay her staff.

4. All of her jobs, including the endorsements, books, and speaking engagements, dried up after the tabloid scandal last year.

5. She says she is now broke, and would be homeless without Prince Andrew’s generosity.

The solution to this complete financial breakdown is not as straightforward as the former princess would like it to be. As Suze Orman puts it, “The issue is not money, the issue is self-worth.”

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In response, Ferguson asks, “How do you get self-worth?” Orman does not have an easy answer. There is no simple way to get it, she explains, but suggests that it starts with moving past caring so much what other people think of you and figuring out a way to really like yourself. To provide an example of such self-love, Orman explains that she has a crush on herself. Ferguson looks confused by that revelation, and asks if it isn’t a bit selfish to spend so much time thinking about oneself. Orman insists that it is not.

Orman then suggests that the Duchess spend some time thinking about what she wants to be thinking about on her deathbed. Orman says it won’t be the tabloids, but rather whether she left the world a better place than it was when she first arrived, as well as the love of her family and the fact that she knows she lived a good life. (Despite the move to care less about her reputation, Ferguson also might want to consider taking control of her online image alongside those deeper thoughts. While she maintains a Twitter account, a web search of her name brings up tabloid articles instead of an official homepage. One has to search long and hard for her official site, which is for the Sarah Ferguson Foundation.)

With those lessons imparted, Orman ended their session and headed back to the United States. In the car, she tells the camera that while she wasn’t expecting it, she thinks she made a friend in the Duchess, partly because the former princess is so open and so vulnerable. That’s why we keep watching and rooting for the Duchess, too.

Kimberly Palmer (@alphaconsumer) is the author of the book Generation Earn: The Young Professional's Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back.