Suze Orman’s Big Problem With The Fire Movement
In a 2018 interview with Paula Pant of Afford Anything, Orman was asked what she thought of the FIRE movement. Her answer was unequivocal. “I hate it. I hate it. I hate it, she said.
This may seem like a surprising response to a question about a movement that promotes saving to retire early. But Orman had plenty of justifications for why she doesn’t believe embracing this approach is a good idea.
The big problem with the FIRE movement, according to Orman, is that retiring at a very young age — which most people in the movement aspire to do — can leave you with too little money to support yourself over the course of your life. That’s true even if you think you are well prepared and have plenty of funds to cover what you need.
When you retire very early, there’s a lot more time in your life for something to go wrong that drains your nest egg. And if that happens, you’ll have many, many more years when you have to support yourself — but it may be difficult to jump back into the working world after a long absence.
If you only have a few hundred thousand, or a million, or two million dollars, I’m here to tell you if a catastrophe happens, if something happens, what are you going to do? You are going to burn up alive, Orman warned.
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Early Life And Education
Orman was born on the South Side of Chicago on June 5, 1951, to Jewish parents of Russian and Romanian origin, Ann and Morry Orman. Her mother worked as a secretary for a local rabbi, while her father, an immigrant from Kyiv, worked in a chicken factory and managed Morry’s Deli in Hyde Park.
She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she earned a B.A. in social work in 1976. In 2009, Orman received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign. The following year, in 2010, she was presented with an honorary doctorate of Commercial Science from Bentley University.
Is Orman Right
Orman is absolutely right that retiring at a very young age leaves you extremely vulnerable.
It can be hard enough for people who are in their 60s and 70s to plan for every expense they’ll face over the course of their life, and ensure they have the funds even for surprise costs such as unexpected medical bills. Someone who retires in their 30s, on the other hand, could end up trying to rely on their investments for 60 or 70 years and it’s almost inevitable that big surprises will happen during that time that can affect their ability to do so.
Of course, not everyone who is in the FIRE movement actually wants to stop working so young. Some people just want the ability to do so, but will keep earning income even after achieving financial independence. While that’s not necessarily a bad goal to set, if you are hoping for very early retirement, you may want to heed Orman’s warning that doing so could set you up for a disaster later.
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