Suze Orman’s Updated Financial Advice 2020

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The NYT has a new Suze Orman comeback piece called Suze Orman Is Back to Help You Ride Out the Storm. I’m old enough to feel nostalgia over the peak Suze Orman years, and it was interesting to read how some of her advice as changed:

Some of Ms. Orman’s advice has shifted since the Great Recession of a decade ago. The coronavirus has led her to the belief that having an emergency fund for food and health care is more important than concerns over debt. That’s why she’s telling people in financial trouble to scrape their money together and put it aside for emergencies, regardless of the damage it may do to a FICO score.

“Can you believe Suze Orman’s telling you to ‘please use your credit cards’?” she said on “Today.” “And only pay the minimum amount due. You might even want to call your credit card companies and ask them to expand your credit limit.”

Those who are in a slightly better situation frequently ask Ms. Orman what they should do about their stock holdings. Once upon a time, Ms. Orman was an evangelist for municipal bonds and an opponent of the stock market. But that changed as the interest on them descended to “almost nil,” as she put it.

So Ms. Orman’s recommendation now is to dollar-cost average in the stock market: purchasing a little bit every month, mostly in index funds, regardless of whether markets rise or fall.

I guess she has enough money now to feel less conservative these days – she went from muni bonds to sharing about her stock market timing prowess.

I don’t see any new TV episodes, but she does have an active podcast. I always thought her original slogan was rather clever: “People first. Then Money. Then Things.”

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  1. I was checking into a hotel many years ago and Suze was in line in front of me. The hotel clerks were sort of rude and dismissive, they were carrying on a private conversation and ignoring Suze who was trying to check in. Since she was at the peak of her fame, she was actually the keynote speaker at the conference I was attending, I expected to see a major celebrity melt down. The kind where the famous person says “Do you know who I am!” But she was kind and patient, never letting on she was anybody special. I never said anything to her, I feel like celebrities get bothered too much as it is. But I was impressed that she showed the staff grace and did not act like her time was something special. The way you treat people, like the desk clerks, or anyone you aren’t expecting some gain from, tells you a lot about a person. Especially when no one is watching. From that time on I’ve thought she’s a good person, I might not agree with all her advice but I respect the way she treats others.

  2. I remembering watching her show regularly years ago. I know she has come down hard on the FIRE movement, but I’m glad to see she is still evolving in her ideas about money. We all continue growing and learning throughout our lives, and celebrities do too.

    • Suze Orman’s brand is more “plan to work until you’re 65 to 70, but be financially secure in the meantime and ready for retirement by age 70” rather than “become completely financially secure as soon as possible so that you can do whatever you want with your time”. Her plan is probably a more realistic goal for the majority of mainstream audiences, although she definitely could have avoided saying “nobody can retire early unless they have $8 million” or something similar to that.

  3. Yes, Jonathan, I agree with you that her original slogan, “People first. Then Money. Then Things,” was indeed very clever. Not only was it very clever, but it was also a good take away for audiences as she closed her TV show. Later on, she came up with another good piece of advice to live by: “Live below your means, but within your needs.” This is something that my parents taught me in how they lived. As we know, actions speak louder than words. My parents were relatively poor initially and then would allow themselves some luxuries as they could afford them. If only more people today truly lived below their means but within their needs! This is step #1 in her recent AARP article, “10 Steps to Your Ultimate Retirement.”

  4. Interesting story, I always thought Susan was humble, a couple years ago I had the “pleasure” to meet Keisha Lance at a wf branch in south of Atlanta where I work. She is the Mayor. I was new in the city, I didn’t know her. Oh boy she is the most nasty woman ever. My coworkers told me stories how she expects to be treated like a queen and how she would try to get you fire.

  5. Ken, still stuck in Georgia says

    Suze is a very polarizing figure on a number of FIRE and other financial forums I read. I think she says a lot of good things, but my problem with her – as with most who write financial advice books, do presentations, etc. — is not taking into account individual differences or needs. For example, in the AARP article referenced above, she’s very certain that no one should claim social security until they are age 70. Well maybe, maybe not. There are all kinds of factors that can impact that decision — one’s current health, retirement assets, the earnings history of a couple, the life expectancy history of one’s family, etc. Neither my father nor grandfather lived to 70. You better believe that is something that weighs on me in contemplating that decision.

  6. Suze has done alright for a waitress:

    I’ll give her credit for getting me to start taking personal finance seriously, but I’m also glad that I sought out other advice in the space.

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