Suze Orman is the new avocado toast. You can’t afford to buy her.

Dear Ms. Orman,

This is a long one, but you need to bear with me because I’m about to take a run at the anti-FIRE arguments you made in your recent appearance on Paula Pant’s Afford Anything podcast.1

So you hate the FIRE movement, eh? Well, my love, the FIRE movement doesn’t think much of you either.

You, Ms. Orman, are a demagogue…and demagogues aren’t to be trusted. Especially when giving life advice. You stay true to type in this interview, in which you deliberately use misdirection and outright misinformation rather than logic and facts to scare people into believing you when you contend that anyone who attempts to FIRE is doomed. And you spread your misdirection and misinformation by scolding those whose positions differ from yours, especially Millennials, instead of approaching them respectfully.

Textbook demagoguery.

People are smarter than you give them credit for. My method of refuting your contention is therefore gonna be 1) revealing the flaws in your logic and 2) properly informing anybody reading this so they can draw their own conclusions. That’s the true art of persuasion.

And to that end I’m gonna do my best to keep my patent sarcasm reined in. Since the way to defuse a demagogue is to dispassionately expose her rhetoric for the bullshit it is, that’s how I’m gonna handle you. Objectively proving to the crowd, in other words, that the empress goes bare-assed.

Whoops.


You say:2

Think about it logically.

OK. Let’s.

Ms. Orman–can I call you Suze?–a basic principle of logic is that anything that can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

And that’s my number one problem with your assertions about FIRE, Suze: you’ve produced very little evidence of them. So produce your evidence. Until you produce your evidence, you’re merely speculating and/or trying to deceive people by offering up flawed logic as proof of what you say.

But you try to legitimize this approach by explicitly stating over and over that the audience should take your words as fact simply because you’ve got a curriculum vitae as long as a kitchen spatula. You’re therefore committing a logical fallacy known as “appeal to accomplishment.” As in: “Since I say it and my resume is dope, it’s true.” Signals of this fallacy include words and phrases like “Trust me” and “Believe me, I’ve seen” and “Speaking as someone who’s” and “Take it from me” and others you repeatedly use.

To demonstrate, here’s your opening:3

“Here is the problem as I speak to you at seventy—at sixty-seven years of age, approaching seventy.  As you get older, things happen. Not only do things happen as you get older; things happen when you are younger. You’re hit by a car. You fall down on the ice. You get sick. You get cancer. Things. Happen. And if you don’t have a significant amount of money—listen, if you have twenty, thirty, fifty, or a hundred million dollars, be like me, OK?—you have that kind of money, and you want to retire, fine. But if you only have a few hundred thousand dollars, or a million, or two million dollars, I’m here to tell you I doubt highly that when you no longer have a paycheck coming in and you’ve invested that money and maybe it’s making some interest for you, or dividends, or whatever, if a catastrophe happens, if something goes wrong, what are you going to do? You are going to burn up, alive, because you won’t have the money to—listen, when my mom got older, I was responsible for her. I spent on her in seven years over two-and-a-half million dollars. And here’s what the FIRE people: you are not thinking about, so I’m gonna give it to you straight here now.”

In rational debate an appeal to accomplishment neither builds up nor tears down an argument. It’s simply bad logic…or worse, deliberate misdirection. For example, I have a cousin who’s a young-earther. She claims to be an expert because she’s taken an online course, watched YouTube videos, read books, and visited a museum. So she’s forever asking me to take it on faith that the planet’s only six thousand years old because “I know what I’m talking about.” But in an academic setting if I cited my cousin’s claims of expertise as a factual source in a geology dissertation, my review committee would instantly flunk me. Her assertions of expertise aren’t evidence.

Neither are yours.

You continue by speculating that machinery driven by artificial intelligence will by the year 2030 have caused a 25% unemployment rate. You then say when the robots have replaced us there’ll be severe consequences. Taxes will go up, Social Security will fail, etc., etc. A whole long list.

All this is just a condescending and hyperbolic way of telling us, “Mark my words: if you quit your job you’ll end up living under a highway overpass someday!” Do you think nobody’s ever tried to frighten us like that before? Do you think we’re unaware that catastrophes befall people? Do you think we’ve neglected to lay in plans for them?

This is another fallacy you’re using: the ad hominem attack. Your condescending tone and grade-school word selection and sickly-sweet patience betray your opinion that since we’re all fools, our reasoning should automatically be dismissed.

Particularly indicative of this comes at 12:18 and 17:28 when you say if we believe in FIRE you’ve got a bridge to sell us.4 You mean you think we’re easily duped, so the case for FIRE must be invalid. But again, that’s not evidence—just bad logic intended to stir people up.

And I have to admit, you did stir me up with this:

Those [catastrophes] are all the things none of you are thinking about.5

Bullshit.

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. All I have to do here is point you towards Reddit’s financial independence forum, where the sheer volume of conversation among the 400,000+ subscribers about planning for catastrophe is an utter, utter refutation of your statement that FIRE aspirants aren’t planning around worst cases.

Besides being ad hominem, your whole catastrophe line is also an example of appeal to fear and appeal to consequences, i.e., attempts to refute an argument by listing the bad things you say it’ll lead to if true. Woe betide ye who attempt to retire early, etc. This is where the highway overpass routine I mentioned above falls. Your opening statement is riddled with it and you keep repeating it, which I’ll discuss further along.

More:

Appealing to the stone and reductio ad absurdum. Summarily dismissing an argument and/or its conclusion as ridiculous without actually producing evidence to its contrary. Kinda like ad hominem, except it applies to the proposition instead of the proposer. For instance, when Paula asks you if a 4% withdrawal rate against two million dollars for someone who’s willing to be frugal and work part-time and stay flexible is sufficient, you literally say:

I think it’s just ridiculous.6

And again you cite your personal experience as confirmation.

More ridicule elsewhere, in a stretch of dialogue concluding with:

Are you kidding me?7

No. We’re not kidding you. We’re basing our case on a considerable amount of social science that uses gold-standard data and peer-reviewed methodology to produce conclusions that are easily reproducible by disinterested parties. I’ll cite specific studies shortly.8

Pooh-poohing the argument. Painting an argument as so meritless that it doesn’t even deserve serious consideration.

In every statement you make in this interview you’re pooh-poohing the argument. You know why I say that? Because serious consideration demands the provision of evidence, and as I get tired of mentioning, you’ve brought none.

But I have. One piece is anecdotal, which obviously isn’t conclusive but at least demonstrates the possibility that FIRE is achievable and sustainable and therefore deserves discussion. I’ve only been FIRE’d for thirteen years, but the track records of people like Amy Dacyczyn and Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin and others prove that multi-decade FIRE is indeed a real thing.

You’d no doubt rebut that we should come back when our lives are over and tell you if it really went like we hoped.  You’d likely remind us catastrophes befall people.

But it’s not a matter of hope, Suze. It’s a matter of risk appetite.

Those aren’t the same thing. A person who stays in her job for the sake of what you call security has accepted the risk that she may NEVER retire. She hopes she will, but there are just as many catastrophes that can befall her as us. She can, to use your examples, get hit by a car, fall on the ice, get cancer, etc. Maybe she’ll even get laid off. But people who choose FIRE have only chosen the other side of the value equation. They’ve accepted the risk that without steady jobs they may end up living under the proverbial highway overpass. You caution them to the contrary. Fine. But advising caution isn’t evidence that FIRE plans will fail.

Arguing from incredulity. You can’t imagine it being true; therefore it’s false. Remember this excerpt from your opening?

I’m here to tell you I doubt highly

Doubt all you like. Doesn’t prove a thing.

Arguing from repetition. How many times in a half-hour is it necessary to tell us bad things happen and that people who FIRE are therefore fools? Honestly, I lost count. This kind of fallacy is nothing more than an attempt to browbeat one’s audience until they stop listening and mentally move on, at which point their silence is taken for agreement.

Presenting “alternative facts.” To quote:

“You know, most people are living now till ninety-five to a hundred. Are you sure your money’s gonna last you that long?”9

In point of actual fact, Ms. Orman, most people are NOT living from ninety-five to a hundred. Per the US Department of Health and Human Services:

“In 2016, life expectancy at birth was 78.6 years for the total U.S. population—a decrease of 0.1 year from 78.7 in 2015 (Figure 1). For males, life expectancy changed from 76.3 in 2015 to 76.1 in 2016—a decrease of 0.2 year. For females, life expectancy remained the same at 81.1.”

Sure, there are exceptions, but exceptions by definition don’t constitute “most.” So when you’ve supported your argument with misinformation in one place, I’m inclined to think you might’ve in others. Naturally you also might not’ve, but it’s still a sign to your audience that they need to listen with healthy skepticism.

And on the subject of misinformation, a person with, say, two million dollars CAN reasonably expect their money to last that long.

William Bengen—whose work you really should read if you haven’t—is the financial adviser who first proposed the idea of the “safe withdrawal rate” in a paper from 1994 entitled “Determining Withdrawal Rates Using Historical Data.” His research and modeling led him to the following conclusion:

“It is clear…that an ‘absolutely safe’ (to the extent history is a guide) initial withdrawal level is 3 percent, in that it ensures that portfolio longevity is never less than 50 years. (This is also true for withdrawal rates as high as approximately 3.5 percent.) However, most clients would find such a low level of withdrawals unacceptable.

“Assuming a minimum requirement of 30 years of portfolio longevity, a first-year withdrawal of 4 percent [Figure l(b)], followed by inflation-adjusted withdrawals in subsequent years, should be safe. In no past case has it caused a portfolio to be exhausted before 33 years, and in most cases it will lead to portfolio lives of 50 years or longer.”

Past performance is no guarantee of future success, of course, but that goes both ways. Past performance is no guarantee of future failure, either. And while Bengen’s assumptions were couched in the market conditions of his time, more modern examination based on more current market conditions has borne out his conclusion. I refer you to a paper entitled “Retirement Spending: Choosing a Sustainable Withdrawal Rate,” AKA the “Trinity Study,” which is a re-examination of Bengen’s safe withdrawal rate concept that was first published in 1998 and has since been periodically updated.

The authors10 used Monte Carlo simulations11 to conclude that historically a 75% stock/25% bond portfolio would survive in 100% of the cases where an individual made annual withdrawals of 4% a year for thirty years.

Two problems with that conclusion:

In their update, Cooley & Hubbard & Walz haven’t carried their analysis beyond the aforementioned thirty years. Thirty years obviously doesn’t get a Millennial from age twenty-five until death at the current life expectancy. Furthermore, their latest update was based on pre-Great Recession data.

But these are each reasons why the FIRE community has lately come to rely more and more on Monte Carlo tools that sample from real-time data and user-determined parameters. For an example, see FIRECalc. FIRECalc doesn’t constrain users to an academic’s assumptions; it allows them to calculate the savings targets they’d need to achieve 100% portfolio survivability across varying historical periods and market conditions and lifespans depending on individual spending requirements.

You can say all day long that you don’t trust such models, as you implied in your opening statements when you brought up robots and high unemployment…but again, you’d merely be speculating. A better criticism might be an analysis of portfolio longevity models in the context of the current bull market. But I leave that to you. Not my job to load your gun.

Besides those two studies, we also base our approaches to FIRE on concrete poured by other highly-credentialed people like Wade Pfau, Michael Kitces and his team, Jack Bogle, and we even take the advice of Warren Buffet. Mind you, when I say “concrete” and “highly-credentialed” I’m not suggesting we should believe these people for their accomplishments…I’m saying their work is generally considered to be dependable, and is therefore worth reading and considering the truth of for yourself.

So, yeah…we’re not just taking a flier out of wishful thinking. Our pursuit of FIRE is justifiable by dint of fact.


OK. What’s common to all your logical fallacies is what I first led with: in none of them do you produce any objective evidence whatsoever for your claim that FIREees as a class are doomed to “burn alive.”

So it’s obvious that your demagoguery hasn’t convinced me the FIRE movement is misguided, and hopefully I’ve been able to inoculate others. Granted that you and I aren’t gonna change each other’s minds today, but at least we can lay out our best and most logical arguments and let our readers come to their own conclusions instead of trying to clench their sphincters for them. It’s what we owe them, and it’s simple professionalism. And what the hell…as I indicated, my beliefs are totally open to refutation. I hope you work the same way, because otherwise when you hate on FIRE you’re just blowing smoke, and your audience deserves to know it.

Christ, that’s a horrible line. “Blowing smoke.” But whatever. I’ve got at least twenty hours in this thing now, and it’s time I was done. Gonna go have a drink and then hit my hammock for a soul-cleansing nap.

Adieu.


Postscript

Dammit, Suze…I wasn’t gonna cut loose, but I hit my hammock and then I couldn’t get to sleep. Because despite my determination to keep myself in check, you read your book pitch and then you had to go and say this:

“Now, I pray that all of you that do this, that nothing ever goes wrong in your life, that you’re always OK no matter what happens…but I’m sure all the people that were on that duckboat in somewhere, where they all went down and they drowned, I’m sure at the end the only one that lived was one person and they lost, what, nine family members? I’m sure she never thought any of that was gonna happen. I’m telling you, don’t be naive.”12

“Duckboat in somewhere.” Bloody hell. And you’re sure only one person lived.

I’m going hoarse repeating this, but get your fucking facts straight. There were seventeen people who drowned when that boat sank, Suze. Seventeen human lives lost, including children, on Table Rock Lake outside Branson, MO, on the evening of July 19th, 2018. A woman named Tia Coleman did indeed lose nine family members, but she wasn’t the only survivor. There were thirty-one people on board at the time of the sinking, seven of whom were hospitalized with two of them in critical condition.

You know…I was a calm friendly he-mammal until you trivialized human fucking tragedy to scare people who don’t know any better into buying advice of questionable soundness and rearranging their lives around it. And then I lost my cool, because that’s a total fucking breach of decency.

God. Do you even hear your own words?

You’re calling us idiots at the exact same moment you’re insisting we stay in the workforce so we can support you in your old age!

And you say Millennials are the ones who act entitled! Jesus! If you’re not the paragon of the worst kind of self-righteous baby boomer, I’ll strip off these cargo shorts and sprint naked down to the local precinct and rip rails right off the duty sergeant’s desk! Remember back in the day when so many of you ganged up and burned your draft cards to protest how the Man was keeping you down, and how you vowed never to trust anyone over thirty? Are you now in hindsight beginning to understand why we’re rejecting your values just like you rejected those of the generation that came before you? Or is that an exercise that’d require too much introspection?

And then there’s this:

You WILL get burned if you play with FIRE.13

Well, shit, Suze…if that’s what passes for wisdom and pith in your line of work, I gotta get myself an agent. How the fuck did I miss out on this racket?

But there’s my patent sarcasm. Sigh. In the heat of composition I’ve crashed into the very trees I’ve accused you of being lost in all along. Couple of deep breaths are in order.

Before I start drinking in earnest, I’m gonna say this one last time. Convincing people to keep their heads down and slog away at jobs they hate by frightening them with polemic and bad reasoning and outright lies into believing it’s their only option—and profiting from doing so, to boot—is WRONG, Suze, and I stand by that.

Why? Because you’re telling folks their dreams aren’t just impossible…but also stupid. And that’s reprehensible. So go peddle your shit somewhere else. We never liked you anyway.


Hi, ya’ll. Enjoy the crap I crank out? A free & effortless way to support The Work, as it were, is to shop on Amazon through the Early Retirement Dude gateway. Click this link, bookmark it, and use it from now on. Much obliged…

Footnotes

  1. I need to go ahead and give a shout out to Paula for making that happen. Orman’s a controversial figure and has a communication style many find infuriating, but Paula did a great job interviewing her even though she disagreed with Orman’s position. I hope you’ll all subscribe to Paula’s podcast.
  2. At 12:57. I’ll be citing the times of these quotes so readers can easily follow along in the podcast itself.
  3. Starts at 5:55.
  4. Which, sure, I’m always open to a business proposition. Let’s hear about this bridge. How much are you asking? Where is it? When was it built? Do you have clear title? When can I bring over an appraiser? When can I have it inspected by a team of structural engineers? Do you collect tolls? Can I see the books? Is it burdened by legal obligations?
  5. 19:22.
  6. 15:41
  7. 8:14.
  8. And by the way, I hope you’ll get back to me with critiques of those studies, because generally in the FIRE movement we’re capable of changing our minds when presented with new facts. But remember, I said facts.
  9. 8:50.
  10. Philip L. Cooley, Carl M. Hubbard, and Daniel T. Walz, a trio of professors from Trinity University whose academic credentials I kneel before.
  11. One use of Monte Carlo, which I’m sure you’re aware of, relies on random sampling of continually-updated (and verifiable) historical data like stock market returns to compute probability distributions in order to, among other things, test hypotheses like, “In most scenarios my two million bucks has an acceptably high chance of outliving me.”
  12. 23:40
  13. 20:23

Author: ER Dude

Sick of your job? After a thirteen-year career, Early Retirement Dude fled corporate America for good. You can do it too! Visit http://EarlyRetirementDude.com or email EarlyRetirementDude@gmail.com.

39 thoughts

  1. Interesting and well written.

    I haven’t listened to the interview, but as usual it’s a shame that some people get to make loud (and unsupported) claims, without proper debate and without an ‘opponent’ that can point out the fallacies in their argument with equal force, like you are doing here.

    I hope everyone who has listened to that podcast will read your article and see the entire debate in a completely different light.

      1. I thought she was magnificent! ……well, Paula that is. What restraint, given some of Paula’s appeals to logic in the past I can’t for the life of me figure out how she managed to make it through without so much as a giggle! Thanks for saving me the trouble of dusting off my Concise Introduction to Logic in order to analyze and refute Ms Orman. Her logic was so bad you may even have missed a few and you did it in a bit more colorful fashion than my Canadian reseve would allow, but it was way more fun to read than I might have done.

        1. >I thought she was magnificent!

          Gotta admit that you had me going for a second, there. Much obliged for the kind word. Drop your reserve and let fly sometime…I’d love to hear it.

  2. Superb. Thanks for a logical (despite the patently manifest sarcasm at the end 😊) takedown of Suze Orman’s totally questionable rant during that podcast. Here’s what people like Suze play on. Understanding FIRE and even its risks require a probabilistic mindset, not a “deterministic” one that most humans are comfortable with. It’s the deterministic view that Suze thrives on because it makes a scary sounding outcome real no matter how low the probability is. People like her thrive on making a 0.0001% probability event with tragic life impact sound far more likely than it is. All the while ignoring that protecting against that rare outcome is a fool’s game anyway, and as if decades of corporate indenture would somehow make the risk better. She spent 7.5 million on her mom because she COULD, and others would not be in a position do that FIREd or not. People mature enough to FIRE based on probabilistic view of life would also be mature enough to make the right choices when tragedy strikes. In fact, they may be more graceful in accepting a health tragedy, perhaps reminiscing on their years of enjoyment in FIRE versus being chained to corporate cubicle.

    1. Thank you SO much for raising the point about deterministic vs. probabilistic thinking. I hadn’t even considered that. Gonna now do it in some depth. Great point.

  3. Awesome post. Thanks for the great job of refuting, with facts, all of her nonsense. I love your writing style as I can hear you saying these things as I read it.
    She’s a hack who’s past her prime but still banking on name recognition to sell more drivel.
    I find her to be super condescending as she uses fear to inspire her followers (hmmm I think I know someone at the very top of our gov’t who has mastered the exact same schtick).
    At least she’s perhaps caused some who might not have thought through or done all their due diligence to step back one last time and check all their numbers and plans before they take the leap. But for those she’s scared into holding out and not enjoying the life of FIRE when they can and should…shame on her.

    1. >schtick

      Funny you say that, because I suspect that’s all it is. I’m guessing she’s a very nice person in real life; it’s just that this is a demeanor she dons because it sells to mass markets. She mentioned in the interview that she managed a pension system for a major California utility. PG&E, if memory serves. Never in a million years would she have gotten hired with that kind of acerbic approach. It simply doesn’t foster good teamwork.

      But since she made her arguments using that demeanor, I felt obligated to respond to her in kind.

      Thanks for writing in. Hope to hear more from you in the future.

  4. I didn’t listen to the podcast but did read a couple of posts about it on a few other sites (MMM, Reddit) where they were ranting about Suze’s schtick. Your response to her was through complete thank you for taking the time to help defend the FIRE movement. I agree that Paula Pant does a great job interviewing, but I will not be listening to this one not worth my time or frustration it would cause.

    I am sorry to hear it affected your hammock nap time. Hopefully after your completed writing this you were once again able to enjoy your hammock.

  5. Great post and you are correct, I never liked her anyway.

    Her advice was always “No, you can’t afford it.” and apparently she hasn’t changed a bit.

  6. A black swan could jeopardize anyones finances , FIREd or not. Of course i’d rather retire with 20 million in the bank but then i would need to work until 80 cause i dont think i am gonna win the lottery. There is here the risk of some tragedy that would prevent me from enjoy that money when i finally retired. So it is a trade off. Enters math, and fire with 1 or 2 millions becomes totally feasible if you r flexible. I’d rather be than living in fear. Fire works. ERD is a living proof. Rock on.

  7. Cool refute of a silly article. However, it must be generating a pretty good buzz because its been showing as a “most popular” on marketwatch for several days. The condescending style is reminiscent of the old experts arguing for active management mutual funds over just average index funds. It’s common sense that fund experts can help you avoid the Worldcoms and Enrons and deliver superior long term results. How’s that one working out?

    1. >it must be generating a pretty good buzz

      Yeah, well, at the end of the day she’s just a weird version of a concern troll. I’m guessing she’s cool in person; she’s just smart enough to know that we’re getting our fifteen minutes right now and there are enough of us to matter, so if she picks on us we’re gonna give her exactly what she wants: visibility for pitching her new book. If it wasn’t us she was picking on, it’d be somebody else. It was Orman’s people who got in touch with Paula, not the other way around. Not her exact words, but Paula mentioned being flabbergasted when she got the call from Orman’s publicist.

      Edit: And it’s a ridiculously shitty way to sell a book, of course, but it works. It’s easy to see where Ann Coulter learned the tricks of the trade. Piss enough people off and pretty soon everybody else will like you.

      Which begs the question: if visibility is what she wants, why’d I give it to her by spending twenty hours writing the article? For one thing because it was fun, for two because as you say it’s a silly argument and it needs to be refuted no matter who makes it, for three because it’s good for everybody to know the work our movement’s based on, and for four because I figured there was a lottery-ticket chance that it’d actually come to Orman’s attention.

      And hell, it feels GOOD to blast your spleen dry every so often.

  8. You tell her, ERD! Suze’s unbelievably condescending and self-centered. Does she even listen to herself? Her rant was Trump-like—full of anger and misinformation. I used to like and respect her. Not anymore. Never again.

    1. >I used to like and respect her.

      I’ve been struggling with that. Like: Dave Ramsey’s a controversial figure, too, but I think anyone who counsels financial prudence and teaches sound basic methods like “pay off your credit cards in order of interest rate from highest to lowest” is doing something good. Orman? She’s got sense in there, for sure, it’s just that she’s stepping on her own…her own…well, let’s not think about that. Anyway, something like “Hey, FIREees…look out, because the fundamentals don’t always agree that 4% is a solid safe withdrawal rate. You need to consider this, this, and this if you haven’t.” Something like that with some solid analysis attached to it and I’d be downloading her book right now. People are smarter than she gives them credit for.

  9. New recent subscriber and I wanna say I thoroughly enjoyed your article.

    I know you share your net worth; however, given your long time being “retired”, I think you stated 13 years, circa 2005 (housing peak), what was your net worth then? And, what have you done for medical coverage since then?

    I appreciate your feedback.

    1. >circa 2005

      Net worth when we split the workforce was roughly $1.53 million. $1.3 million in investments and a $220K house that was entirely paid for. As of yesterday’s close it was $2.56 million.

      >what have you done for medical coverage since then?

      We’ve just done our best to deal with the shit fate slings at us. Everybody assumes early retirees suck up Obamacare subsidies, but that’s not a good assumption. We get a subsidy up front because of the way I manage our income tax liability, but we have to true up at the end of the year based mostly on our realized capital gains position. So the prudent thing to do is budget as if we’re not getting a subsidy at all. In other words, like everybody else in the US I have no idea how much our healthcare expenses are gonna be at any given moment. Being a healthcare refugee looks more and more like a serious option every day.

      1. Do you have an article on healthcare or handling black swan events (disability, cancer, etc) ? It must be a big challenge since you dont know how much healthcare is going to cost.

  10. Totally agree – I first listened in after reading a post about the interview on Get Rich Slowly. I felt my blood pressure rising as the podcast went on, and actually had to pause and take a walk when she started on the duck boat comparison. She lost credibility throughout the whole diatribe, but she lost my respect after that particular low.

    I’ve been doing a lot of modeling lately around mutual fund products to solve for this type of early retirement requirement, and there is a lot of great products in the multi-asset, income-oriented space (particularly those with enough equity exposure to accumulate capital while kicking off enough yield to cover inflation-adjusted withdraws). I love that you pulled Bengen into this. Really well thought out.

    But the reason i keep coming back to this blog is this type of stuff:

    “If you’re not the paragon of the worst kind of self-righteous baby boomer, I’ll strip off these cargo shorts and sprint naked down to the local precinct and rip rails right off the duty sergeant’s desk!”

    pure gold.

  11. Excellent logical explanation and counter to Suze’s blithering. All she does is broadcast fear fear fear. And “buy my book”.. what a bunch of crap. Her perspective is from a very wealthy, aloof, loud mouthed personality.

    She will shoot down anyone’s FIRE success because it’s not about her. In a different discussion, she denied a 65 y/o guy with $8M net and no debt the ability to retire “only 5 more years to go” was her reply. Suze doesn’t hear herself and her own crap. I have $2.5M myself at age 48, no debt, multiple paid off rentals with a $78k military pension (disability included) and free medical (VA disability)… she’d probably tell me what if the moon collides with the earth tomorrow.. how are you going to pay for it?!? Holy crap, maybe I need moon collision insurance?? Buzz off Suze. I’ll take care of myself. Go back to your island. Nobody cares.

    1. Thanks. I think the most annoying thing is that she saw our community and realized that there are enough of us to matter and so she swooped in and trolled us and got a shit-ton of free publicity as a consequence. Very smart; admirable play. That kind of thing is why she’s in the big leagues.

      Oddly enough, I think in that sense we owe her some gratitude for having done so, because she raised our profile at the same time. She took the risk of getting some bad publicity by doing so, and she’s certainly gotten that, but she’s playing to the “these people are nuts” crowd that fill the comments of FIRE articles with skeptical/acerbic comments rather than us. No such thing as bad publicity, I suppose. It’s like I said elsewhere in the comments: if you piss enough people off, pretty soon the rest of them will like you.

      “That Ann Coulter’s an anorexic bitch…but she pisses liberals off, so I like her.” That sort of bullshit. I’ve heard it and I’m sure you have too. Basically that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, even if my friend thinks I’m an idiot and is trying to fleece me.

  12. Hi ER Dude…first time here.
    Suze hates the FIRE movement because the FIRE movement is proving that Financial advisors absolutely add no value when it comes to managing financial assets, and retiring early. They add NO value to the sensible FIRE folks. Think about it…FIRE folks invest in index funds, avoid debt, spend sensibly, live below their means, are at the mercy of nobody to enjoy their lives.

    1. As somebody pointed out elsewhere in these comments, any financial advisor worth her salt oughtta be trying to help people achieve their financial goals, not telling them what they should be and then pushing them in that direction. If we did a good job teaching our kids what financial responsibility is, she wouldn’t be atop the NYT list.

  13. I never paid her much attention in the past, but when she came out with ‘omg no one retire until 70’ thing, I stopped paying any attention.
    I have a myriad of reasons to be targeting early retirement. The main one is 3/4 of my grandparents passed away by age 72, but they retired around ~ 55. That was a lot of time to visit with us grandkids, slow down and enjoy life, visit friends, make it to important family events etc. Several years ago there was an article discussing increasing the social security age from 65 to 67, which could mean only 5 years of retirement (possibly). Wait wait wait, then: work 30 ish years, 15 ish years retired, vs now: work 40+ years, 5 years retired….awww heck no! How do I change my future?
    Both of my parents through good saving, frugal living, and good investment were able to retire a few years before traditional retirement age. Both have experienced medical things, neither is living under a bridge.
    I’ve got some great real life role models and they support my pursuit of FI/RE. Because they know for me RE doesn’t mean sitting on a couch, it’s just freeing up my time for something else like it has been for them.

    1. You make good observations, one of which disturbs me.

      It sounds like you’re talking about two-income families as if that’s the norm. Which: yes it is, of course, but I get a little sad because as a GenX’er I’m plenty old enough to remember when it was the norm for only one parent to work. My mom, for instance, has never held down an office job and doesn’t to this day understand why so many people think Dilbert is funny.

      Retirement back in those days had a much different meaning. I’m not gonna get into what it was because I’m sitting here envisioning that as the theme of a whole column. But yeah, your observations are good and I’m grateful to you for sending them in.

  14. She sounded resentful of her mother for not taking her advice regarding long term care insurance. She tries to scare everyone about how much it costs by citing $30K/month for 7 years.
    BUT…
    The maximum daily benefit you can buy is $450 ($13,500/month). That means that she would still be paying $17,500/month out of pocket. PLUS, she would have been paying huge premiums all along.
    But wait, there’s more: LTCI policies only rarely cover for life and most just cover for 2-5 years.
    There’s so much she says that is at conflict with her other remarks.
    – she hates mutual finds, bind funds, target date funds and touts the benefits of choosing individual stocks and bonds but earlier in the conversation she talks about how “great, great” companies vanished – doesn’t that mean you should hold a basket of diversified securities and not individual ones?
    – she has no idea how interest rates affect debt securities
    -she says that FIRE people are missing out on years and years of compounding??? Saving a ton of money early on puts compounding to work sooner.

    She’s embarrassingly desperate to be back in the lime light — that’s it. NOT her passion to help people.

    Thanks for a logical retort!

    1. All very good demonstrations of her argument’s internal contradictions. I ran across a quote on a different blog where she essentially said the 4% rule was garbage but gave her retirement blessing to a guy who said he’d saved up twenty-seven times his annual expenses.

      Swear, man…the article you just read could’ve been a hundred thousand words long.

  15. I don’t like to be “that guy” and pull attention away from your well made points, but this is a post all about facts.

    The Branson duckboat accident was on Table Rock Lake, not the Delaware River as you have stated.
    There was a duckboat accident in Philadelphia in 2010 on the Delaware River when a tugboat-guided barge hit a duckboat killing two people, due the tugboat pilot being distracted while talking on his cellphone.

    1. Dammit. You’re absolutely right, and I own that. I only researched it on one source when I should’ve cross-checked with another. Ironic, eh? I’ll make the correction. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

As seen in…

The Wall Street Journal The New York Times Rockstar Finance Kiplinger Paychecks and Balances Physician on FIRE Fire Drill Podcast Root of Good Get Rich Slowly Go Curry Cracker

EarlyRetirementDude.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We also participate in various other affiliate programs. Assume that if you click a product link on any of our pages, you'll be taken to a website with which we have a commercial relationship.