Let’s face it, Suze Orman scares the bejeebers out of me. There, I said it out loud. The caustic queen of blunt personal finance has me shaking in my boots. Now I love Suze, and her advice is generally spot on. But alas, that is exactly what scares me. Not her trendy hairstyles with metallic flashes streaming through them. And not her love of all things jacket, especially ones where some living animal gave it’s all so that dear Suze could wear its tanned hide.
No, Suze scares me because I just know she’d look straight into the camera and tell me I cannot afford it. And by “it”, she means living out the rest of my life.
I save my tax information in a shoebox and my finances are a jumble of good habits that get overrun by the bad. And, of course, she’d ding me hard for not having any plan for the afterlife. Or at least what kind of party my survivors are going to have once I’m dead or incapacitated.
Bingo, boyfriend, she’d say, you don’t deserve to live. A “D+” grade is too good for you.
And my response is, well girlfriend, I’m only human, and I live in the real world that lately has been chock full of hard knocks and slippery slopes. Lady, I live in a land that is a minefield of layoffs and financial surprises combined with rising medical and educational costs.
But Suze, I love ya. You’ve made me and my wife look at our finances as a team for the first time. So, as they say in the South, God love ya, Suze.
I always quake when I hear you (or your half-brother twice removed, Dave Ramsey) say you should have a six to eight month nest egg set aside in case of job loss. Now let’s see how that works out in real dollars. For example, if I understand this right a household that has $4,000 a month in expenses including rent should have between $24,000 and $32,000 set aside somewhere.
I tried to do the math on this one time, and it was daunting. If a family of four could set aside $100 a month, which is fairly optimistic, it would take 20 years to reach the $24,000 threshold.
Now I think in every way, shape and form you are right. But an article posted today by the Wall Street Journal said we’re all putting off retirement. In her article, Lauren Weber writes that nearly two-thirds of Americans between 45 and 60 plan to delay their retirement. These stats come from a report released by the Conference Board.
The article goes on to say that the increase in the number of older workers planning to delay retirement is being spurred on by financial losses, layoffs and income stagnation.
Holy hairstyle, Suze O, what’s a job-seeker to do? Since my last layoff nearly 16 months ago, our family has been living like miserly hermits, only sticking our heads out of the sand enough for one child or another to attend a school-sponsored trip. My kids don’t even know how to spell “vacation”.
On the plus side, we pay our bills on time, carry no credit card balances, and we appreciate everything that comes our way. I’ve put out of my mind the fact that my IRA will never reach the epic proportions needed to retire comfortably. I’ve resigned myself to an elderly life of welcoming people to Walmart while sporting a snappy, Suze Orman-worthy blue smock.
I’ve come to terms with my destiny. I’m OK with it.
But you scare me Suze, you really do. Unlike most Americans, we aren’t overwhelmed in consumer debt, but like most of our compatriots we have nowhere near the cash at hand that you would require us to have in order to live a happy and productive life.
Maybe I should get a cable show of my own, sport a new hair-do and some bling. I think I’ll call it “Retirement is Overrated.” My first guest might be Suze Orman, but I’m sorry girlfriend, we can’t afford you.
For more of my downtrodden despair, check my blog out at Xogdog’s Blog.