Sunday, September 21, 2014
Point of Personal Privilege: My problem with Suze Orman
I love the Suze Orman show, though I admit that I don't really know why. Most of it features people who have vastly more money than I do calling in to ask permission to make what are usually very modest purchases, only to be told that they don't have enough in retirement savings to afford to buy something they want right now. Which makes me feel even more impoverished than I do most of the time.
I'm pretty sure it's not the Multi-Millionaires calling in to ask permission to spend a tiny sliver of their mountain of wealth on a trinket, a bauble or a man cave. I think those idiots only call so they can talk about their money to a stranger on television. And I know I don't take any pleasure out of the interviews with 35-year old knotheads who are $300,000 in credit card debt and who make $35,000 a year but live in $2 million dollar homes and who mysteriously find themselves in financial trouble.
I guess what I like about this show is Orman's ridiculously curmudgeonly attitude toward spending money. She has people calling in every week who have what seems to me tons of money and would like to spend a little of it- only to be told that they are DENIED permission because they "don't have enough for later."
I'm all for saving money- I save almost 30 percent of my take-home pay (I'm not bragging- I have to save that much, because my take-home pay is so pathetically low, if I want to have ANY money "later.") But I also know that people who are so obsessed with "later" that they can't part with a nickle right now are really letting life pass them by- and may end up finding out that "later" isn't so hot even if you HAVE money.
In my opinion, everyone should travel when they are young. I waited a long time to visit Europe, but not TOO long. Suze Orman would have DENIED my trip to the UK in 2013, telling me I need that money for retirement. And I would have asked her what the hell is going to be so great about retirement that it's worth giving up a trip to the UK. Orman's attitude smacks of Christianity- "suffer now, reap your rewards later." Nice things, like trips to Europe? That's for rich people- or for you when you are really, really old and have that retirement fund set.
Well, to hell with that. I know people who have saved and saved for something only to have an emergency pop up to wipe out their vacation/new car/whatever funds. I don't like debt, but I've learned not to be so afraid of a short-term credit card balance that I do without everything but the bare essentials. And I also don't see the value of waiting until you are in your seventies to take that dream vacation- and then seeing it from a bus seat or experiencing much less of it because you are now suffering from limited mobility.
In short (I know, too late) I think Orman's show is valuable but she's way too mean with money. My father-in-law used to shrug "pigs won't eat it" when called upon to spend. I'll just say that while savings are very important, life is meant to be lived, and money is meant to be spent. If you wait until you have the cash before you buy anything, you'll rarely buy anything. And if you keep putting off a dream because it costs a little money, there's a very good chance you'll never get there.