The Race to FIRE - Financial Independence, Retire Early

Suze Orman: Get Out of My Head

Suze Orman: Get Out of My Head

We’ve run the numbers for my husband’s upcoming retirement a thousand times. Even though the calculations say that we are financially independent, and we’ll be able to sustain our lifestyle without his income, there’s this nagging voice in the back of my head.

This voice says that my husband should NOT join me in early retirement. That we will run out of money. That he should continue to work until normal retirement age. The voice tells me things will not be okay.

This nagging voice now has a name. And it’s Suze Orman.

Girlfriend, You’re a Real Buzzkill

I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference for people involved in personal finance and the media. I was excited to meet people who had recently FIRE’d (Financially Independent, Retire Early).

I wanted to talk to folks who had been there, done that whole early retirement thing. It’s one thing to read about these rare birds on the internet, but it’s thrilling to meet them in the wild. To make sure they exist.

I was hoping to get some encouragement from them to go ahead and pull the trigger on my husband’s retirement. You know, because of the aforementioned voice in my head.

At the conference, I met a couple in their mid-40s who had retired within the past year. Like us, they were both employed in tech. They were IT pros; we’re both engineers.

I met a former lawyer who retired in her mid-30s. Thank goodness she did. Her husband passed away a few years ago. But before he died they were able to spend a few years of quality time together without the stresses of their old jobs.

There were young retirees who had amassed a series of income-generating rentals. There were older (but still early retirees in their 50s) who had either been downsized or just gotten sick of their jobs.

After the conference, I hung out with the former IT pros and the former lawyer. Really nice people.

I detailed our scenario. We want to be FatFIRE, a niche term for those pursuing at least a 6-figure annual income in retirement. They understood perfectly.

They made sure I had run the numbers through the best FIRE calculators out there. Check.

They asked about our cash on hand. Check.

They asked if we had plans which would give us a purpose each day. Check.

Then I shared a few other pieces of information.

That we had a pension AND access to free healthcare.

Then these nice people turned kinda mean.

“Why in the $%** is your husband still working?”

“Call him NOW. Tell him to quit.”

I didn’t call him right then and there. But I did walk away from the conference feeling pretty good about our prospects for early retirement and inspired that my husband could give notice any time and we’d be fine.

Also, at the conference was one of my favorite podcasters, Paula Pant. I had recently discovered her podcasts at Afford Anything. She is a great interviewer. She asks thoughtful questions and gives her interviewees time to answer, interjecting only when necessary.

In the hallways of the conference, I heard a few whispers about a recent conversation between Paula and Suze Orman, a true legend in personal finance.

I adore Suze Orman. I like the way she empowers women to take control of their finances and her “tough love” approach to everyday finances.

When I got home from the conference, I found the podcast that everyone was talking about. It’s Paula’s latest podcast in which she interviews Suze Orman.

In this podcast, Suze has a LOT to say about people pursuing FIRE.

Mainly, DON’T DO IT.

Suze goes dark pretty fast about the FIRE movement. She talks about the horrible things that can happen at any time: hit by a truck, fall on the ice, cancer.

She’s also weirdly obsessed with AI. I get it. But, unlike Suze, I’m less concerned about “we’re going to lose a lot of jobs to AI.” Rather, I’m more concerned about “who’s in charge of the button to launch Skynet?

Suze’s ultimate warning: you will get burned with FIRE.

For someone struggling with the fear of FIRE, this podcast did not help.

The nagging voice in my head? It’s Suze Orman.

Telling me we’ll never have enough. We’ll regret the decision. We’re definitely going to run out of money.

Suze, I love you girlfriend. But you’re a real buzzkill.

I left the conference feeling great. I got home, listened to the podcast and felt terrible.

I even asked my husband to listen to the podcast. Afterward, we discussed the reality of our decision.

We’ve decided to move ahead with our plans, despite Suze’s dire warning.

We have several things going for us that Suze didn’t consider during her diatribe. Things such as:

My husband’s pension from a previous employer

Access to free, quality healthcare and

Our age.

When my husband retires, we’ll both be in our early 50s. Not the earliest retirees, but certainly much younger than normal retirement age in North America. We’ve had 25 years of corporate earnings and savings compounding in our favor.

And the voice in my head? Sometimes it’s very loudly shouting that normal people keep working until they are 65. Other times, it’s quietly encouraging me that things really will be okay if you’re not normal.

Currently, the voice is being drowned out by the excitement we both feel as we get closer to the day he leaves his job for good.

A Funny Thing Happened at the End of the Conference

At the end of the conference, Paula Pant received an award. A lifetime achievement award.

I’m pretty sure that Paula is like, 35 years old.

Certainly, she deserves an award for her terrific work in the personal finance community. But a lifetime achievement? At 35?

When I think of lifetime achievement, I think of someone who’s been around for a while. Someone who is eligible for the SENIOR discount. Someone who has DECADES of years in personal finance media. You know, someone like Suze Orman.

And the nagging voice in my head is saying “You got that right girlfriend!”

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