Suzanne Somers: My younger self knew nothing about money

Actress Suzanne Somers at her home in 1979 in the Marina Del Rey area of Los Angeles, California.
Joan Adlen Photography/ Contributor

Despite decades of success, actress and entrepreneur Suzanne Somers says she knows nothing about saving or investing money.

"My younger self knew nothing about money. I wasted it. I didn't understand the value of money. I didn't understand the value of shopping around getting the right price," Somers, now 73, tells CNBC Make It. 

In 1977, at the age of 31, Somers got her first big break: the role of Chrissy Snow on ABC sitcom "Three's Company."

The show was an instant hit — by the its fifth season in 1980, she was making $30,000 an episode.

When Somers asked for a raise to $150,000 an episode, which was equal to what her "Three's Company" co-star John Ritter was receiving and what other male actors were being paid at the time, ABC offered her $5,000 more.

"That didn't feel right to me," Somers, now 73, tells CNBC Make It.

Somers missed several tapings and when her contract was up in 1981, she was terminated by ABC.

"Life isn't fair," Somers told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. "Getting fired for asking for a raise wasn't fair, but I landed on my feet and I've done OK." (ABC did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It's request for comment.)

In the late '80s, Somers became the spokesperson for the Thighmaster, which brought in over $100 million in sales, rebranding her as a health and fitness expert, and in 1991 she landed a starring role in ABC family sitcom "Step By Step." She's also written 27 books over the last three decades and currently sells health related products on the Home Shopping Network.

Suzanne Somers pictured in Thighmaster webpage
Source: Thighmaster

Despite all the money she's made, Somers admits that if it wasn't for her husband Alan Hamel, whom she married in 1977, she probably wouldn't have a dime today.

"Here's where I'm not evolved as a woman. I let [my husband] handle most of the money because he's much better at it than me," says Somers, author of the new book, "A New Way To Age."

"I'm dyslexic, so numbers are really hard for me."

But Somers, who spent years researching anti-aging tricks to help her live longer and better, says she would still love to learn about money.

"Nobody ever taught me anything about it. I think in school it would have been a good thing if they taught us how to have a checking account and how to balance it," says Somers, who grew up in San Bruno, California the 1950s.

Growing up, the only financial guidance she was exposed to was her mother's weekly budget for groceries.

Still, Somers says she has passed down some money advice to her only son, Bruce Somers Jr., 54.

"I said to my son, and this is shallow, but money will not make you happy. But if you're happy and you have money, it's really cool."

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