Paula Pant’s Afford Anything podcast recently featured nationally-known personal finance guru, Suze Orman. (Paula conducted the interview very professionally!) Suze seemed to show some serious HATE for the FIRE movement or the idea that you can retire early after achieving financial independence. Ostensibly, Suze thinks we’re all making a huge mistake trying to achieve financial independence and cut the cord from an office job. That’s how it appears on the surface. I think the reality is that Suze just played us all.
I’m going to say Suze “Trumped” us. Without getting too political I think it’s widely understood and agreed that Donald Trump has honed the art of stirring up controversy to get attention and market himself. Love him or hate him, he gets people talking. Well, Suze has done a great job at getting people talking about her thoughts. And that’s a good thing for everyone in the FIRE community to have rational discourse. But I suspect it’s a great thing for Suze, who’s promoting her new book. “No such thing as bad publicity” is what they say.
So what happened after the interview?
- Reddit blew up with comments.
- Afford Anythings’s Paula Pant dedicated a followup show to addressing many of Suze’s statements and her listener’s comments. (If you liked the first cast, this is definitely worth a listen)
- Mr. Money Mustache chimed in with his thoughts.
- Bloggers wrote articles about why we can disregard her.
So you have to figure Suze Orman got to where she is because she’s got marketing savvy. She knew that going on a show where people hold the pursuit of financial independence to be a near and dear value would cause a reaction when they heard her say “I hate it, hate it, hate it!” She knew that there is a network of bloggers that would respond and make her name ring out. This was essentially a clever plan to get free marketing. But I’m not even hating. It’s good to consider the alternative viewpoints.
Some Good Takeaways Worth Discussing
- What about market crashes? The general idea propagated in the FIRE community is that you can’t time the market, and to just plow money into VTSAX or a similar index fund, but little discussion is had on whether or not the market is priced reasonably. Bubbles do happen. I’d love to hear more discussion about P/E ratio’s and what is a fair and reasonable price rather than endlessly repeating we can’t time the market so just always buy. That works well..until it doesn’t.
- What about the high cost of medical bills or long-term care. These are valid points. I wouldn’t expect me or anyone I know to end up in $30,000 a month nursing home but there is a real cost none the less. Some of this is negating the risk with insurance. Another alternative is getting far away from the US broken system of health care and practicing geo-arbitrage to cut cost.
- There’s inflation to be concerned about. With the fed restricting quantitive easing, interest rates are likely to continue to head up. Historically low unemployment is likely to lead to higher wages. Higher wages likely lead to higher cost.
- There’s the reality of not being able to easily get back into the job market easy if you’ve left and need to get back to work when a recession hits. That can be countered with freelancing and continuously building your skillset. (Check out my sidebar for free beginner WordPress training.)
- There’s the unfortunate cost of unexpected big expenses. Some of this is mitigated with insurance.
I’m happy for the conversation to continue. And Suze’s glad you’re talking about her.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons File:Suze Orman Time 100 Shankbone.jpg
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