Priceless money lessons from “I Will Survive” singer Gloria Gaynor

Aneth Ng Lim

Posted at Jun 18 2019 10:10 AM

Karaoke fans are sure to know about the Gloria Gaynor and her song that hit number 1 in both the US and UK 40 years ago. Yes, it’s been that long, yet somehow "I Will Survive" still draws women (and men and LGBTs too) who suffer from broken hearts or broken dreams.

I’m tone deaf but that did not stop me from attempting to sing it. Something about belting out "I Will Survive" even in the wrong tune can be quite freeing and I would recommend it to anyone.

Well, Gaynor is back in the news because she released a new album called “Testimony.” There is no break up anthem in this one because it’s a gospel album. Speaking to Marketwatch.com’s Steven Kutz, Gaynor describes it as her testimony of the grace and goodness of God. She co-wrote many of songs in the album and her rendition of “Amazing Grace” is worth downloading as well as her cover of the Bob Dylan song “Man of Peace.”

In chatting with Kutz, Gaynor also walked down the memory lane and spoke candidly on what she’s learned about money during her career. 

#1 Follow the money.

When asked for the best financial advice she’s been given, Gaynor told Kutz that it came from her mother who said, "Honey, check behind everybody that’s handling your money. Even me. I won’t cheat you, but I might make a mistake.”

Sadly, Gaynor did not listen so this also turned out to be one of her money mistakes. “I put somebody in charge of my financial affairs that I thought I could trust and did not listen to my mother at that point. It did not turn out well. Currently my manager is also my financial manager. When I first met her, she was working for my agent. I bought her a sign that said, ‘Do you want to talk to the man in charge or the woman that knows what’s going on.’ I later offered her a job as my personal assistant and now she manages my career.”

#2 Invest in yourself.

While she’s made a great deal of money from “I Will Survive,” and owns a million-dollar mansion in New Jersey, Gaynor understands the value of investing in herself.

Celebritynetworth.com reports Gaynor’s net worth is around US$20 million and she keeps busy with doing 50 to 100 shows a year, yet she found time to go back to school and earn a degree.

“I spent money from 2006 to 2012 on college tuition for myself. I got a Bachelor's degree in psychology,” she told Kutz.

#3 Nothing wrong with downsizing.

Speaking of million-dollar mansions, Gaynor also made headlines recently when she announced she was selling hers. The grand, two-story home was lovingly customized by Gaynor herself. 

Speaking to Realtor.com, Gaynor shared the mansion features floor-to-ceiling windows, French doors and skylights bringing the outdoors in and making it appear even bigger. Every bedroom has a walk-in closet, plus there’s a game room, a private theater and she added a large, in-ground pool with a transparent cover.

"I love it, I really do. But I'm alone now, and it's just gotten [to be] too much for me," she explained to Realtor.com. To Kutz, she added that: “I need to downsize a bit. It has five bedrooms and a huge basement. An acre of land to take care of. A pool to take care of.”

#4 It’s okay to spend money on yourself, but set limits.

On a milestone birthday, Gaynor splurged on herself and went out to buy a beautiful watch. “It’s a diamond watch by Cartier,” she told Kutz.

Gaynor also has to spend a little bit more on shoes because of her back injury. While performing in New York in 1978, she fell and was paralyzed from the waist down. She has had several surgeries to address it, and was wearing a back brace while she recorded “I Will Survive”.

“I cannot wear ugly shoes. But I also can’t wear heels because of my back. It’s very difficult to find stylish shoes that are not high. Manufacturers cater to young people. When you do find stylish shoes that aren’t high heels, they’re expensive. I wouldn’t spend $5,000 on shoes, though, unless they were made of diamonds. I’d spend a few hundred.”

She is also careful when it comes to spending on bags. “I hate spending a lot on handbags. I’m not spending $5,000 on a handbag; I’d rather spend a few hundred.”

#5 Find your worth beyond the dollar (or peso) signs.

Two years ago, Gaynor launched IWillSurvive.org, a charity fundraising site and online community where people can share their stories on what they have survived.

“People do come to me with all of these stories, and they inspire and uplift and encourage me with these stories, letting me know that I’m not here just taking up space on this planet and rather that I’m serving a purpose and have been an inspiration to them,” she told People magazine. “That’s been the best part for me. That’s added such meaning and purpose to my life.”

From a theme song for people who had their hearts broken, “I Will Survive” has stood the test of time to become an anthem for empowerment. Gaynor said of the song: “It lifts you up out of the muck and mire, gives you a desire to survive, and then inspires you to reach down inside and pull up fortitude that helps you to plow through whatever difficulties that you’re having.”

In the future, Gaynor sees shifting her focus from singing to giving back to her community. She told NJ.com she wants to help teenagers and other young people starting families without fathers.
To survivors out there “from every walk of life and from every kind of situation or circumstance”, Gaynor offers this advice: “Never give up. Just know that God has placed you in everything you need to survive whatever life throws at you.”

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.