Suze Orman, the renowned American personal finance guru, tried to retire at 65. She and her partner moved to the Caribbean, took up sport fishing and became quite skilled at it.
However, a couple of years later, Avon came calling. The cosmetics company asked Orman to conduct interviews with women who had been domestically and financially abused for a series of awareness videos it was making in partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline in 2018. It was an issue that appealed to Orman’s sense of fair play and she dove in with her characteristic energy.
At the same time, she was inundated with interview requests to discuss Millennials and money, which made her wonder if anyone cared about aging baby boomers and their financial woes any longer.
The results of stepping out of retirement have been twofold. She has launched a weekly podcast called “Women & Money” with a soon-to-be released app that will connect women globally to discuss their money issues. Secondly she has written her 11th book, “The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+.”
If you’re not familiar with Orman, she’s a personal finance expert who trained with Merrill Lynch and was a vice-president at Prudential Bache Securities before creating her own financial group.
Orman had her own show on CNBC for 13 years and was a frequent guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “The Larry King Show,” but she says the ultimate compliment was being portrayed by comedian Kristen Wiig on “Saturday Night Live” from 2008 to 2010.
The Star talked to Orman about retirement, women and money.
Why should I wait until 70 to retire?
It may turn out to be the single smartest retirement decision you can make. These days, with many people living into their 90s, the more money you make, the more chance you have to save, pay off your mortgage and get rid of debit. Meanwhile, your investments can stay in your retirement account and grow. You want to maximize your Canada Pension Plan payments, too; your benefits increase annually until age 70. if you are worried about your security in retirement, that’s a sign that you should make it a goal to keep earning some income until you are at least 70.
When it comes to retirement, I like to say that 70 is the new 65.
Why is it important to pay regular retirement living costs from guaranteed sources of income?
Very few things are guaranteed, so you have to work from the funds that are guaranteed to you, such as your work pension, if there is one, and your Canada Pension Plan. These payments don’t fluctuate, depending on what the stock market does or on whether you have a renter in your upstairs apartment or not.
When shouldn’t I spend money on my grandchildren?
Your spending today shouldn’t imperil your financial security in retirement. It’s not that you don’t want to give things to your grandchildren, but can you afford to? Giving a grandchild $100 a month toward rent may not seem like a lot, but it mounts up over time. Will that be the money you should have used to buy long-term care insurance or paying off your mortgage?
When you don’t have income coming in, you’ll need to have enough money to support yourself. You can’t continue with the habits you had when you had a paycheque. Take a good look at what you can afford. Rightsize your support so it doesn’t endanger your future.
I can’t face the thought of losing my partner. Why do I need to plan for it financially?
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If you don’t plan, you may lose not only your partner, but you may have to cope with a significant loss of income. If both of you get retirement pensions as a couple, when one of you dies, you may get a survivor’s benefit, but probably it won’t match the full monthly amount to which you were accustomed; with CPP, you’ll only get a portion of your spouse’s benefits.
You need to do the calculations in advance; if one spouse dies, can the other one afford to live without being impoverished? A lot of women can find themselves in untenable situations, because they weren’t the main breadwinners and took time off to raise their children, so their pensions are smaller.
You need to plan ahead and consider the what ifs. The time to plan is now so that you are not caught off guard.
A divorce can have a similar impact, so always be sure you know where you are financially and where the money is going. You’ll want to know what you’re entitled to legally. I’ve heard tales about husbands who have been stashing away money and using it to take care of another woman or those who were seriously in debt and hid that information.
Why should I downsize my residence sooner, rather than later?
Moving to a less expensive home could set off a wonderful cascade of retirement savings: You may have gains from the sale that you can add to your savings. You will also likely reduce your monthly housing costs — the rent or mortgage, property tax, insurance, maintenance — and that can enable you to add more to your retirement accounts. It’s a big decision, but just consider it as an option.
How would you define a financially abusive relationship?
In a financially abusive relationship, you don’t have control over your own money. You hand your salary over to your partner and have to ask for money. You don’t have any credit cards in your name and don’t have your own bank account or retirement savings.
A good spouse of either sex would want you to know where every penny goes and would want you to know how to invest. You should not have to ask permission to spend money. You should always have your own savings account and retirement account.
Often, a financially abusive relationship becomes physically abusive. You would be shocked by some of the stories women have told me.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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