Georgette Mosbacher always seemed a very Houston type: shamelessly materialistic, an entrepreneur, a trophy wife who clawed her way out of obscurity and had a great manicure to show for it. With her third marriage, she made herself precisely what she wanted to be: the wife of Rob Mosbacher, the Houston multimillionaire George Bush tapped as his secretary of commerce; the owner of La Prairie, a cosmetics company; and the glittery embodiment of Texas outrageousness in glamour-starved Washington, D.C. She wasn't born a redhead, she liked to say, but she was born to be one. Her first book, The Feminine Force, promised that with determination and good grooming, any plucky poor girl could marry a prince and live happily ever after.
Then, last April, came the divorce and the crash of Georgette's fairy tale. She blamed Another Woman; Rob said the problem was Georgette's determination to live in fab Manhattan, rather than humble Houston. And, certainly, she doesn't seem to miss us much. In a way, she's graduated to the big leagues, to the land of short-fingered vulgarians, vanities worthy of bonfires and her own regular appearance on CNN's Biz Buzz. You could say that she's transcended us. She's become so Houston that she's New York.
You will be happy to hear that she is surviving the split in style, keeping her $10 million Fifth Avenue apartment, her humongous house in the Hamptons and, of course, the consulting company she hatched after selling La Prairie. You will also be happy to hear that, once again, she's chosen to share her life lessons. It Takes Money, Honey: A Get-Smart Guide to Total Financial Freedom, now hitting the bookstore shelves, manages to garner blurbs from both soap star Susan Lucci and blue-chip business types: Christopher Forbes, Michael Bloomberg, even CNN president Lou Dobbs. As you'd expect, the book offers the usual dreary, respectable recommendations common to the financial self-help genre: Keep tight reins on your budget, invest in index funds, diversify your portfolio, blah blah blah. But fear not: Our Georgette rises above the pack by offering practical, learned-it-the-hard-way tips particularly useful to women who want to marry well, and divorce even better.
A few highlights:
How to Meet a Millionaire: The Subtle Approach
"My personal favorite technique: Walk your dog in the neighborhood you want to live in rather than the neighborhood where you're currently living. If you're going to meet someone at the park where your dog's playing, why not meet someone who's already arrived at the place you want to go?"
How to Meet a Millionaire: The Less Subtle Approach
"[After graduating from college,] just a few weeks after I'd moved to Los Angeles from the midwest, I was sharing an apartment with my brother George to save money. One Sunday afternoon I convinced him to attend an auction of movie memorabilia that Southeby's was running for Twentieth-Century Fox. We couldn't afford to buy anything, but I was sure it would be an interesting experience attended by lots of interesting people.
"And how. Midway through the proceedings, my attention was captured by a confident but gentle-looking man who'd purchased several fifteen-by-twenty-foot replicas of World War II ships used in the filming of the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! I couldn't imagine how anybody could afford such an extravagance... On a whim, I asked George to drive back and wheedled the buyer's name out of the woman in charge by pretending to be a reporter from Time magazine doing a feature on Sotheby's. (Hey, it was the first story that popped into my head.) Then I used the same line to arrange a face-to-face interview with the buyer himself. By then I'd learned that he was a successful real estate developer named Robert Muir who just happened to be single.
"Now, don't worry. I confessed my tall tale almost as soon as our 'interview' began. Far from being angry, Robert, bless his heart, was amused and flattered. We began dating and were married a year later."
Don't Let Smoke Get in Your Eyes: Part I
" 'Don't worry, I'll take care of you, honey.'
"Along with 'The check is in the mail' and 'I'll still respect you in the morning,' this is the biggest falsehood you'll ever hear from a man."
Don't Let Smoke Get in Your Eyes: Part II
"Please, please, please, if you do find yourself in a situation where you'll be drawing up a prenuptial agreement, retain the services of a good independent lawyer and financial adviser who can help you look out for what's fair and best for you. Never, ever let his lawyer cut the whole deal."
How to Ask for an Allowance
"Now, I'm not saying the asking part was easy. Each time I used the straightforward approach: I sat down and explained that I wanted some spending money that I didn't have to account for, that I didn't want to explain or beg every time I needed money, that I felt it was demeaning. Then I'd suggest the amount. Of course, [Robert Mosbacher] bridled at the concept initially because to men, giving up money means giving up power, and men never easily give up power, particularly to women."
What to Say When Joan Rivers Asks, How Do You Divide Your Household Expenses?
"I said: I pay for nothing. He pays for everything.
"The audience perked up.
"Joan pressed on. What about personal items, like your clothes and makeup? she asked. He pays, I replied. What about Christmas presents and birthday gifts for members of your family? she followed up. He pays, I replied. No matter what specific expense she questioned me about, my answer remained the same. The rule is simple, I explained, and it operates twelve months a year, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day: Whatever the expense is, he pays.
"The audience cheered wildly...."
How to Justify Your Secret Stash
"I know that some of you will cringe at the idea of squirreling money away in a secret place, feeling as if you would be committing an act of deceit. Honesty is the very foundation of a good marriage, you want to tell me, and you and your husband do not keep secrets from each other.
"Well, I say to you, God bless and good luck. I would have said the same thing of my relationship with Robert Mosbacher. And, like millions of women before me, I was proven wrong."
How to Establish Said Stash
"So much for the philosophical underpinnings of the secret stash. Now let's get down and dirty about exactly how you come up with the money in the first place.
"To paraphrase the poet Robert Browning, let me count the ways:
"*Siphon off a part of your paycheck...
"*Divert raises and bonuses...
"*Skim from your allowance...
"*Hoard small change..."
How to Get Property in Your Name, and Your Name Only
"I was careful to pick the most propitious times to talk to Robert when I wanted to make a change in the way we listed ownership of some important asset. I'd wait for a vulnerable moment -- say, after a friend's husband had just died -- so I could use that event as a fresh example of why I was so determined to protect myself.... When I wanted to switch ownership of the New York apartment from both of our names to my name only, for instance, I talked about how unprotected I'd felt as a child after my father died, and, as a result, how important it was to my emotional well-being to have the security of a home of my own and to know that no one could ever take it away from me."
Liquid Assets Are a Girl's Best Friend
"Although the nitty-gritty details of a divorce settlement differ from couple to couple, there is one cardinal rule, applicable to every woman, that you must understand as you enter full-blown settlement negotiations....
"The Number One Rule: CASH IS KING!"
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Divorcing Rich Is Better Than Divorcing Poor
"Cash is cold comfort under these circumstances. But make no mistake about it: It is some comfort."
Remember: Georgette Shall Rise Again
"I'm still scared sometimes. After all, a lot of things have changed in the fifteen-odd years since I was last single. I'm not twenty-five years old anymore; I'm not even thirty-five; I'm fifty years old and the thought of dating again is terrifying....
"My goal for many years was to spend the rest of my life happily married to Robert Mosbacher, and that goal has been shattered. What hasn't been shattered is the greater goal: to share my life with someone who values me and whom I value in return."
Don't Let Smoke Get In Your Eyes: Part III
"[E]ach of my three husbands requested that I sign a prenup spelling out our financial responsibilities to each other and how our assets would be divided in case we divorced. I readily admit that I found the whole process distasteful, but I understood why they thought it was necessary. And now that I have considerable assets of my own, I also will ask for a prenuptial agreement if I ever choose to marry again.