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Suze Orman’s Top 12 Considerations to Avoid Retiring Poor

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Suze Orman, the queen of no-nonsense financial advice, doesn’t sugarcoat things. If you’re not seriously preparing for retirement, there’s one phrase you might hear from her, “You WILL retire broke!” And while a bit dramatic, she’s got a point. Too many people head into their golden years woefully underprepared, leading to serious sacrifices in their quality of life.

Suze’s wisdom isn’t just about scaring you straight, she’s big on actionable advice. While the topic of retirement planning can be overwhelming, breaking it down into simple steps makes progress achievable for everyone.

Let’s dissect Suze’s top financial truths and explore the practical changes you can make – starting right now – to avoid falling into that “retiring poor” trap.

1. “You Haven’t Saved Nearly Enough”

stressed couple with savings confused poor no money
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Ouch, but probably true for many! Orman emphasizes the need for a sizeable nest egg, beyond what you think is “comfortable”. Unexpected medical costs, inflation, or a longer lifespan than you planned for, can wipe out inadequate savings.

Don’t just guess at how much you’ll need. Use online retirement calculators to get a realistic estimate of your income needs, factoring in lifestyle wants, not just bare-bones survival. Next, reverse engineer the lump sum savings required to generate that monthly income based on conservative investment returns. This eye-opening number motivates you to step up your savings game!

2. “Social Security Won’t Save You”

Hand Over Social Security Benefits Form
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It’s a safety net, NOT a cushy retirement plan. Changes to the program in the future are likely, and even full benefits may be inadequate to cover your basic living expenses, especially when inflation strikes.

Treat Social Security as a bonus on top of your own savings. Run different scenarios using the Social Security calculator, including delaying benefits to maximize your payout, so you don’t have unrealistic expectations about its role in your overall retirement income.

3. “Your Expenses Are Out of Control”

woman checking her grocery shopping receipt
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Fancy lattes and unused subscriptions- those small leaks add up! Suze is adamant about mindful spending. A detailed budget isn’t just for when you’re broke; it reveals where you could save aggressively for retirement instead.

Don’t rely on sheer willpower– automate your success! Have a set amount diverted from each paycheck directly into a retirement account (401(k), Roth IRA, or whichever aligns with your situation). You’re far less likely to miss money you never see hitting your checking account.

4. “Get That Debt Monkey Off Your Back!”

Student loan concept. Graduation cap on the calculator.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

High-interest credit cards, car loans, etc., eat away your ability to save. Orman advocates being debt-free BEFORE retirement. Those interest charges are a reverse wealth-building machine, robbing you of potential investment gains!

Choose either the “debt snowball” (paying off the smallest balances first for quick wins), or the “debt avalanche” (focusing on the highest interest rates to save the most money overall) method. Commit to your chosen method religiously – seeing the progress is incredibly motivating!

5. “You Need an Emergency Fund FIRST”

A Jar full of Money, Labeled as Emergency fund
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You can’t build a solid retirement plan on shaky ground. Unexpected expenses WILL happen… car repairs, medical bills, etc. Dipping into retirement savings to cover them derails your progress big time.

Orman suggests 8-12 months‘ worth of essential living expenses tucked away safely. This isn’t money for vacations, it’s your “break in case of emergency” glass to prevent sabotaging your long-term goals.

6. “Embrace the Power of Compound Interest”

happy older couple with money and piggy bank
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

This is where the magic happens! The earlier you start saving, the more time your money has to grow exponentially. Thanks to compounding, even small amounts add up miraculously over decades.

Suze is a fan of Roth IRAs, if you qualify. Your money grows tax-free, and withdrawals in retirement are completely untaxed, giving you a major leg up. Check the current income limits to see if you’re eligible.

7. “Don’t Touch Your Retirement Accounts!”

People missing the Tax Filing Deadline with tax form, clock
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Dipping into them prematurely is tempting when life throws curveballs. But, those withdrawals often come with penalties and taxes, AND you lose out on years of potential growth that money could have been earning.

Think of that nest egg as off-limits, except for truly dire emergencies. If you absolutely MUST tap into it, only take the bare minimum and have a concrete plan for rapidly replenishing the funds.

8. “Employer Match? That’s FREE Money!”

money savings
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

If your company offers a 401(k) match, contribute AT LEAST enough to get the maximum match. Leaving that money on the table is like turning down a raise! Even if you can’t afford much else, prioritize that easy win.

Some employers offer automatic contribution increases each year. Signing up means painless, gradual progress toward saving more without feeling the pinch all at once.

9. “Long-Term Care Insurance – It’s Not Optional”

Insurance agent showing calculator and discuss them about Life Insurance
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Suze hammers this home because the cost of nursing homes or in-home care obliterates savings. It’s one of the biggest risks to a secure retirement. Premiums are high but far less painful than leaving your spouse or kids with a financial mess.

The younger and healthier you are when you buy this insurance, the lower your premiums. Don’t put off this tough conversation with yourself until the price becomes prohibitive.

10. “Negotiate Your Salary! Ask for What You Deserve!”

Businessman refusing receive bribe money in the envelope of thei
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Especially for women, this is crucial. Don’t accept the first offer without advocating for yourself. Research average salaries for your experience and location, and confidently ask for that higher number.

Even a small salary bump adds up significantly over your career when invested, thanks to compound interest. Don’t undervalue yourself; it has long-term costs for your retirement!

11. “Downsizing Can Unlock a Fortune”

older couple retiring moving boxes home
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Once the kids leave the nest, that big house is often more of a burden than a joy. Selling and moving to a smaller (or less expensive) place can free up substantial cash for your nest egg.

Even if you don’t sell, renting out unused rooms can provide the extra income stream Suze always preaches about and help offset rising costs of living and inflation.

12. “Get Professional Help When You Need It”

A happy smiling couple shaking hand with their advisor
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Navigating retirement planning alone is an uphill battle. A fee-only financial advisor (NOT someone trying to sell you products) provides personalized guidance. Yes, it’s an expense but a worthwhile investment in your future.

Think of it like hiring any other expert – plumber, electrician, etc. Specializing in complex retirement income strategies means they spot potential pitfalls you’d likely miss on your own.

20 Things Poor People Waste Money on, According to Suze Orman

money guru Suze Orman
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If you’ve ever watched her show, you know Suze Orman pulls no punches. She’s all about calling out bad money choices, urging people to take control of their financial destinies and ditch those pesky spending habits that derail progress. While her advice can be blunt, she aims to empower folks to build wealth and protect their financial futures.

It’s important to note, Suze Orman gets flak sometimes for being too harsh. She’s not shaming people, but highlighting how certain expenses can sabotage big goals like homeownership or a comfortable retirement.

20 Things Poor People Waste Money on, According to Suze Orman

12 Purchases That Aren’t Worth Making in Retirement

older couple discussing financial goals and money
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Retirement marks a major lifestyle shift. The thrill of newfound freedom after working all those years is exhilarating, but it’s vital to reconsider how you spend your hard-earned savings.

After a lifetime of work, you deserve to enjoy yourself—but not at the expense of your financial security.

12 Purchases That Aren’t Worth Making in Retirement

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