Suze Orman Says These Are the Biggest Money No-Nos
Don't do these things and you'll enjoy a better financial life, the money guru says.
Here are 34 major money don’ts — straight from the expert.
1. Don't be too quick to buy a home
Homeownership is part of the American dream — but buying one before you're able can lead to financial disaster.
"Sometimes it makes sense to own a home," Orman tells CNBC.com. "And sometimes, depending on where you live, it makes sense to simply rent."
That's particularly true if you're in an expensive city. Instead of pouring a lot of money into property, Orman says why not invest in the stock market? That way, you can grow your savings — maybe into a down payment on that home of your dreams.
A good way to get into investing is through an automated investment service such as Betterment, which will automatically adjust your portfolio to protect you from market turbulence.
2. Don't lease a car
In Suze Orman's words, "you should never, ever ever ever, lease a car."
If you lease, you'll sink your money into several years' worth of car payments and be empty-handed when the lease term is done.
Financing is a better option, but Orman says if it will take longer than three years to pay off the car, then it’s out of your price range. (You certainly don't want to consider one of today's seven-year car loans.)
Buying a used car is another way to go. Models that are just a few years old will have great safety specifications and the same audio-visual tech as a new car, at a fraction of the price.
3. Don't co-sign a loan
When a friend or family member in need asks you to co-sign a loan, Orman says the only correct response is to turn them down.
As she puts it: "Don’t be afraid to say 'no to others and say 'yes' to yourself."
When you co-sign a loan, you become legally responsible for paying back the money. Life is unpredictable, and if anything happens to prevent the borrower from repaying the loan, you’ll be on the hook to make the payments.
Plus, if the borrower is so much as late on a few payments, your credit score can take a hit.
4. Don't take Social Security too soon
Our favorite financial guru advises Americans to avoid early retirement for a very good reason: It's worth it to delay taking Social Security until age 70.
"Every year you wait between your normal retirement age and 70, Social Security will add a guaranteed 8% to your eventual monthly payout," she writes, in AARP The Magazine.
She says delaying Social Security until you reach 70 will give you a monthly benefit more than 75% percent higher than what you'll get if you start at 62.
"Living well into your 80s and beyond is no longer some rare event," Orman says — and you want to make sure your resources will last as long as you do.
5. Don't sell stocks when markets are bad
When stocks are hurtling lower, investors tend to drop investments fast. This is a bad idea, says Orman.
Instead of dumping stock, she advises that you just keep investing the same amount of money each month, regardless of what the market is doing. Using this strategy, a bad month for the market becomes a good month to invest.
"I wish for 2008 again," she tells Yahoo Finance, referring to the year of the big market meltdown. "That’s when the fortune was made. That’s when you could buy stocks for pennies on the dollar."
If you train yourself to hold on tight through market dips, you’ll continue to build a solid portfolio with long-term earning potential.
6. Don't put blind faith in a financial adviser
It's important to have a financial adviser you can trust.
"Don’t think that they’re always going to have your best interest at heart, because probably they have their own best interest at heart,” Orman says.
When selecting a financial professional, make sure he or she is a "fiduciary," which means your adviser has a legal duty to act in your best interest.
During your vetting process, ask prospective advisers about how they'll be compensated for working with you, and about other services they can offer. This will give you a good idea of their motivations when they invest your money.
7. Don't borrow from your 401(k)
Suze Orman calls borrowing money from your 401(k) "the biggest mistake you will ever make" with your retirement money, especially if you use the money to pay off other debt.
A 401(k) loan is better than withdrawing money from your account, which will bring you a tax bill and a 10% penalty if you're younger than age 59 1/2. Plus, the loans typically come with a lower interest rate than a traditional loan.
But you might be barred from putting more money into your 401(k) for six months, meaning you'll miss opportunities to make pre-tax contributions that lower your taxable income.
Even worse, by taking part of your retirement savings out of commission even temporarily, you'll lose out on significant earnings if markets rise.
8. Don't let debt linger
"Debt is bondage,” Orman tells CNBC. "You will never, ever, ever have financial freedom if you have debt."
Still, she points out that not all debt is the same.
Mortgages and student loans can be considered "good debt," because home loans usually have fairly low interest rates and your degree is an investment that should generate a higher income over time.
However, credit cards have much higher interest rates. The longer you put off paying down your credit balances, the more money you lose. You can easily wind up paying for your purchases three or four times over.
9. Don't spend to impress others
It's human nature to want to impress others. But Orman knows from experience how foolish that is.
She once leased a fancy BMW and bought a Cartier watch with money borrowed from her 401(k) — just to impress a woman she was dating. She says it was "the most stupid thing I’ve ever done with money."
In the end, spending money you don’t have to impress others will leave you with shallow relationships and stressful bills.
Work hard, invest wisely, and reap your fortune when you’ve made it. There’s nothing more impressive than true financial success.
10. Don't stay at a job you hate
Suze Orman says polls show that two-thirds of workers aren't really into their jobs. And if you're in that group, you're selling yourself short.
"Staying in a job you don’t like is disrespectful to yourself, and your loved ones," Orman says, on her website. "There is no way you can tell me that doesn’t negatively impact your relationships."
But quitting may not be the answer. Before you start looking around for a new opportunity, see if the job you have can be modified to address whatever it is that makes you unhappy.
Just don't ever frame it that way when you meet with the boss or HR. Instead, tell the management you'd like to talk about how your job might be "tweaked" so you can be more productive.
11. Don't spend on things you don't really need
There’s no better way to kick-start your savings than by playing the need vs. want game.
The next time you're ready to buy something, ask yourself whether you really need it. Is it a necessity, such as medication, food from the grocery store or a solid pair of shoes for work?
Or simply something you want — like another drink at the bar, fast food for dinner again or a second pair of knee-high boots?
"If it’s a want, just walk away. If it’s a need, then buy it," Orman writes. "Try this for six months and you’ll be shocked at how easy it is and how much money you’ll save."
12. Don't retire too early
On a recent edition of the podcast Afford Anything, Orman was asked what she thought of the FIRE movement. That's FIRE as in "financial independence, retire early."
Her blunt response — “I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it" — set off a firestorm among the FIRE faithful.
But she explained that it would take a lot of money to make retirement work at, say, age 35.
"You need at least $5 million, or $6 million," she said. "Really, you might need $10 million." In her opinion, anything less wouldn't offer you enough protection from a potential financial catastrophe, like an expensive illness.
"You will get burned if you play with FIRE," Orman told her interviewer.
13. Don't go without a will
"Do you have your estate planning in place? If not, you might want to think again," Orman writes, on Oprah.com.
While everybody needs a will, most Americans don't have one and lack other important end-of-life documents, including a revocable living trust.
That's a legal arrangement that holds your property while you're alive and transfers it to your heirs after your death, without the complicated process known as probate.
Orman says set up a revocable living trust for passing down your house and other major assets, and draw up a will for your other special possessions, like great-grandma's wedding ring or your first-edition book collection.
14. Don't take out a reverse mortgage in your 60s
A reverse mortgage is a type of home equity loan for seniors that allows you to receive the money as a lump sum or in monthly installments. The loan is repaid, with interest, when you die or sell the house.
You can take out a reverse mortgage starting at age 62, but Orman says that's risky. In her view, it's best to treat a reverse mortgage as a last resort for emergency money, and to wait as long as you possibly can before going that route.
"If you tap all your home equity through a reverse at 62 and then at 72 you realize you can’t really afford the home, you will have to sell the home," she says.
A certified financial planner (CFP) professional — such as those available online through Facet Wealth — can help you find the best way to stretch your retirement savings.
15. Don't miss out on matching money
If you have a 401(k) or other retirement plan through work, don't leave free money on the table! Make sure you're putting enough in so that you'll receive the full matching contribution from your employer.
Orman says your company might kick in 50 cents for every dollar you contribute, up to 6% of your salary.
"Under those terms, if the employee contributed $3,000, the employer would kick in another $1,500," she says, on Oprah.com. "Hello! That's a guaranteed 50% return on your investment."
So, raise your paycheck contributions and start maxing out the match today.
16. Don't ever buy a new car
If you love being the first person to drive a brand-new car and you can never get enough of that new-car smell — well, you'll have to get over all of that, Orman says.
"The second you drive that car off the lot, it depreciates, 10%, 20%,” she tells CNBC. "Let somebody else get that depreciation."
Your home may appreciate in value, but that rarely happens with a car. So don't waste your money on new, but always buy used.
Then, keep your vehicle as long as you can: at least 10 years, and maybe even 15 or 20. Orman says that's how wealthy people do it — including herself.
17. Don't go without life insurance
About 4 in 10 adults have no life insurance, according to the industry research group LIMRA.
Orman says for parents in particular, life insurance is a product you can't afford to go without. It provides peace of mind, because it will protect your family if something happens to you and you're suddenly out of the picture.
And it's cheap: A healthy 40-year-old woman might pay less than $35 a month for a policy with a $500,000 death benefit. Orman recommends "level term" life insurance, meaning the premiums never change.
"C’mon Moms. (And Dads)," says the personal finance guru, on her site. "You can't tell me that less than one dollar a day is too much to ensure your family is safe no matter what."
18. Don't ever miss a student loan payment
Struggling with student loan debt? Whatever you do, don't just throw up your hands and stop paying.
"Make paying back your student loan the very first bill you pay," Orman says on her Facebook page. "It is more important that you make your student loan payments on time each month than any other bill."
She has called student loan debt "the most dangerous debt you can ever have" because you can't erase it through bankruptcy.
If you try to walk away from your loans, the debt will catch up with you eventually. The government can garnish your wages for federal student loan debt — in other words, take what you owe directly from your pay.
19. Don't invest for the wrong reasons
Orman says too many people — especially young people — make investment choices purely because a stock seems cool or trendy.
"They decide, 'This company is great, I'm going to invest in that,'" she tells CNBC.com. If that's your strategy, "maybe you'll hit it right, maybe you'll hit it wrong."
It's less risky to diversify your investing, by putting your money into index funds and exchange-traded funds, or ETFs.
Open an investing account and put in regular amounts, through what's called "dollar cost averaging." Stay steady through the market's ups and downs and you'll always come out ahead, Suze Orman says.
20. Don't say it's impossible to save
Orman says too often she tells people they ought to consider saving more — only to have them respond that it's impossible because there's never any extra money left over at the end of the month.
"I beg to differ," she says, on SuzeOrman.com. "There’s no money left because you haven’t evaluated your spending habits. You need to dig deep and be willing to change those habits."
Practically anyone can squeeze out up to $100 in "hidden money" for saving and investing each month, Orman says.
For example, you might boost your home's energy efficiency and cut your utility bills by as much as 10% by caulking drafty windows, putting weather stripping around exterior doors, and switching to energy-saving lightbulbs.
21. Don't take a tax refund
"If you’re getting a tax refund, you are making one of the biggest mistakes out there," Suze Orman says.
Why? Because you've essentially had too much of your pay withheld for taxes — and have effectively given the government an interest-free loan. When you're owed a $2,400 refund, you've allowed yourself to be shortchanged $200 per month throughout the year.
But surveys have shown that Americans love their tax refunds and eagerly plan out how they'll use the money each year.
Orman is isn't backing down. On CNBC.com, she calls a tax refund "the biggest waste of money that you will ever get."
22. Don't waste money on coffee
Your daily stop to pick up a cup of dark roast or a cappuccino is a habit you need to break, the money maven says. It's a "want," not a "need," and it's costing you a ton of money.
"You are peeing $1 million down the drain as you are drinking that coffee," Orman recently told CNBC (causing coffee drinkers across America to do a spit take).
Here's the math on that: If you're spending $100 a month, that's money that could grow instead in a Roth IRA — to roughly $1 million after 40 years, assuming a 12% rate of return.
But you love those fancy store-bought coffees? Get over that. "Every single penny counts" when you're saving for your future, Suze Orman says.
23. Don’t retire owing money on your home
A survey from mortgage banker American Financing found that 44% of Americans in their 60s and 70s are still paying off a mortgage. “This is so not OK,” Orman has blogged.
She urges people to go into retirement mortgage-free, for two reasons: to stretch their retirement savings, and to rid themselves of debt — an albatross that affects even mental health.
“If you’re going to stay living in that house for the rest of your life, pay off that mortgage as soon as you possibly can,” Orman tells CNBC.
Without a mortgage, you'll have more financial security in retirement, she says. So work until you're 70, use excess emergency savings and do whatever else it takes to get that house debt paid off.
24. Don’t let your wallet get sloppy
There's nothing too profound about this piece of advice. Orman is literally talking about keeping your wallet organized and knowing exactly what’s in it.
Your wallet, she says, is "a picture of your life." It especially reflects how you think about money and manage your finances. Crumpled bills stuffed in any old way show disrespect and a lack of accountability.
What’s in Orman’s slim wallet? Her driver's license, health insurance cards, exactly $170 in cash neatly arranged by denomination, and three credit cards with perks that suit her lifestyle.
The amount of cash is no accident; the digits 1, 7 and 0 add up to eight. “In Asia, eight is the number of wealth," Orman explains.
25. Don’t buy a home you can't afford
Being able to afford a certain rent payment doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford a house with a similar mortgage payment.
“The big mistake that many people make,” says Orman, “is that they’re paying $1,500 a month for rent and they go out and look for a home and they can get a home for a $1,500-a-month mortgage.”
But the costs of moving in and keeping up a home over the long term far exceed those of renting a place. And you'll need to get the best mortgage rate you can.
Orman reminds potential homebuyers to factor in not only the monthly mortgage payments but also the down payment, closing costs, initial repairs, moving expenses and ongoing maintenance costs.
26. Don’t risk your retirement to pay for your kids’ college
Orman is incredulous over reports that saving for retirement is taking a back seat to saving for college.
Asset management company T. Rowe Price found in 2018 that 74% of parents put the higher priority on socking money away for their kids' higher education. An earlier survey identified millennials as the worst offenders.
"Are you nuts?" Orman blogged. "Your 20s and 30s are when saving in retirement gives you a huge advantage: decades when your money can grow."
When parents whine that they’d do anything for their kids, Orman comes back with, "Top of the list should be to make sure you will never be a financial burden for them."
27. Don’t skimp on car insurance
Car insurance policies include three key areas of coverage: for bodily injury liability per person, for total bodily injury liability, and for property damage you cause. Minimum coverage amounts in many states are, respectively, $25,000, $50,000 and $25,000.
Orman doesn’t think that’s nearly enough. "It will be a financial disaster paying out of pocket for serious injuries, loss of wages, rehab and such for the other driver (and their passengers) if you cause an accident," she blogs.
There’s no denying that auto insurance premiums are high, but she advises working with an independent agent who will comparison-shop the rates for you and find you the best deal.
Raising your deductibles also can result in significant savings.
28. Don’t let holiday spending get out of control
Even people who normally spend responsibly take complete leave of their senses when the holidays roll around. Orman blames a lack of planning.
She recommends dividing your total gift-giving budget by the number of people on your list and sticking to the maximum per person.
“Challenge yourself not to buy any gift with a credit card … you're much more likely to purchase only what you can afford,” Orman says. She says holiday credit card debt can linger much longer than the recipient will remember your gift.
Plus, friends and relatives would feel ashamed if they found out their gifts were beyond your means. "Time and love are the most valuable possessions you can share," Orman writes.
29. Don’t keep kids in the dark about credit
Suze Orman shakes her head at reports that millennials are avoiding credit cards.
"I am wholeheartedly on board with preferring a debit card," she says. "But everyone needs to also have a credit card and use it responsibly."
She thinks parents who don’t teach kids how to use credit do them a disservice. After all, the credit bureaus factor spending and payment history into credit scores, which determine who gets a car, house or small-business loan, and the kind of interest rates they pay.
Orman recommends teaching good credit use in one of three ways: adding your teen to one of your existing accounts; co-signing for a no-fee, low-limit card; or having your kid apply for a secured card that requires a deposit.
30. Don’t let fear stop you from getting rich
Orman doesn’t mince words. "Stop feeling sorry for yourselves and go out there and create the financial life that is waiting for you," she tells CNBC.
Fear, she believes, is often the only thing standing between you and a pay raise, a better job, shrewd investments and other financial goals. "You most likely are your own financial obstacle," she continues, "and you have to remove your fears from wanting to create more."
So, stop saying you can't do this thing or that thing, or that you're not smart enough, or that you were never good with numbers, or whatever.
Orman's best advice is to change your mindset about money, pay off debt and start getting rich.
31. Don’t ever take out a payday loan
If you want to get a rise out of Suze Orman, just ask how she feels about payday loans.
“I am begging all of you, do not take a payday loan out,” she said on one episode of her podcast, going so far as to add that it’s the biggest mistake listeners could ever make.
Payday loans are tempting because they’re relatively easy to get when you’re strapped for cash. However, they’re offensively expensive. The typical annual percentage rate is 400%. By comparison, the average APR on credit cards is around 17%.
Several states have capped the APR on payday loans at 36% percent or have even banned the loans altogether.
32. Don’t become a landlord
The return of the house-flipping craze makes Orman nervous.
Even blazing hot markets inevitably cool down. If you can't sell a flip house at a profit, you may have to rent it out. And being a landlord isn’t as glamorous as it looks on HGTV. Landlords must replace toilets, keep critters at bay, and let in tenants who lock themselves out.
“Do you think … you can attract responsible tenants who would pay enough to cover your property tax and maintenance charges? Even if you could, do you really want to be a landlord?” Orman asked one fan.
She says don't do it unless your emergency fund can cover at least eight months’ worth of mortgage payments.
33. Just don’t sell stocks — period
Orman speaks from personal experience. In 1997, she invested around $5,000 in Amazon. She sold the stock a few years later and quadrupled her money.
However, the shares would be worth millions today. "It makes me sick to even tabulate it," she told CNBC.
Investing in individual stocks isn’t her favorite game plan, but she says people who play the market should at least do extensive research on the companies they’re interested in. She says Google, Facebook and others are expected to retain their competitive edge for years to come.
“If you do buy, though, make sure to hold," Orman advises. "You keep a great stock forever."
34. Don’t let vacation time go unused
Suze Orman is all for taking vacations. She’s the first to say everybody needs a recharge now and then — especially people who intend to work until they’re 70.
Saying no to a trip you can’t afford is a good thing, but there’s no excuse for not using your vacation time. And you don't have to spend a ton of money to enjoy it.
"Unplug from your work. And do something that gives you pleasure. Day trips. A home project you never get around to," Orman blogged. "There are so many ways to step out of your demanding work routine without spending money."
If nothing else, you’ll be more productive and engaged on the job.
Sometimes Orman’s opinions are spot on and you’d be wise to follow her tips. But other times she misses the mark, often horribly, financial experts say.
Keep reading for a look at 10 of Orman's recommendations, followed by the reasons experts say each bit of advice is just so wrong.
1: When she says don't waste money on conveniences
Do you use a grocery delivery service to save time? Do you frequently order takeout or use a laundry service because it’s more convenient?
Orman doesn’t approve. She’s not a fan of spending extra money on things simply to make your life easier, and she cautions that the little expenses can add up.
"Stop leasing cars, stop eating out, stop doing the things that’s wasting your money and makes your life easier, because in the long run it’s going to make it harder," the personal finance guru says.
What's wrong with that?
We don't all need to swear off comforts, says Jim Wang, the Baltimore-based founder of Wallet Hacks.
“That may be good advice if you’re struggling and in high-interest debt," he tells MoneyWise.com. "But when you budget and know where your money is going, it’s perfectly OK to spend it on the conveniences in life."
If you've saving diligently, there's nothing evil about enjoying a few conveniences. "If you hate cleaning and you’re exhausted after work, hire a cleaner," Wang says.
2: When she says 70 is the new retirement age
Let's say you dream of retiring early. Maybe even just a few years early, at 62 — when you can start taking Social Security.
If you're working toward retiring sooner rather than later, Suze Orman is quick to offer an opinion you aren’t going to like.
As she sees it, "70 is the new retirement age — not a month or year before." We're living longer, Orman says, so if you retire too early there's a greater risk that you'll run out of money.
What's wrong with that?
Waiting until the big 7-0 isn't always going to work. "There’s not one universal age that’s right for everyone to retire," says Credit Takeoff founder and managing editor Mike Pearson.
Under the "multiply by 25" rule, you should be able to live off your retirement funds — regardless of your age — once you've built up a nest egg that's at least 25 times your annual expenses.
"For example," Pearson says, "if your expenses are $50,000 per year and you have a retirement account worth $1.25 million, then you should be able to comfortably retire, whether you're 40 years old or 70."
3: When she says employers look at credit scores
Your credit scores can have a huge influence on your life, as Suze Orman is quick to point out.
But while she's correct to say credit scores are a big deal, she’s completely off base when she says a bad credit score could keep you from getting a job.
"You go to get a job, your employer looks at your FICO score, they go, I am not hiring this person because they have a bad FICO score," she told CNN.
What's wrong with that?
The idea that a credit score could cost you a job is 100% false.
Employers can review your credit report — with your written permission — as part of a job application, but your credit scores are off limits.
In the words of Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, "credit scores are never used for employment purposes."
4: When she says make at least minimum payments
Financial experts agree: It’s smart to pay off high-interest credit card debt as aggressively as you can. At the very least, you should make minimum payments on your cards to avoid damaging your credit scores.
That's the advice Suze Orman gave a woman through her column on Oprah.com, and it doesn't seem surprising.
But when consider that the woman — who owed $8,000 — was 81 years old and barely making ends meet on $600 a month from Social Security, the picture changes.
What's wrong with that?
When a person is struggling to get by on Social Security, protecting her credit scores should not be the priority, says Jackie Beck, creator of the app Pay Off Debt by Jackie Beck.
“The minimum payment on an $8,000 credit card debt is likely between $140 and $400 per month," Beck says. "That’s a huge chunk of her monthly income."
It makes more sense to sell the woman's car or any other assets to pay off the debt and put her in a better financial position. If there are no assets, the woman and her family should try to negotiate with the credit card company.
5: When she says save in a Roth IRA — period
Suze Orman is a big fan of the Roth IRA, which can be a great tool to help you save for retirement and potentially slash your taxes once you get there.
"The prospect of having tax-free income in retirement makes a Roth IRA a great deal," she says.
Orman tells her fans to focus on this: "No tax on withdrawals with the Roth vs. having to pay income tax on every penny that comes out of a traditional IRA."
What's wrong with that?
It’s not wise to simply recommend a Roth IRA over a traditional IRA, says Logan Allec, a certified public accountant and founder of Money Done Right.
"This is potentially dangerous advice because, frankly, a traditional IRA may result in more tax benefits for some folks," says Allec. That group would include older, higher-income workers.
"If someone is in a high tax bracket and is going to retire in the next few years, after which he or she will be in a very low tax bracket, a traditional IRA may very well make more sense than a Roth IRA," Allec says.
6: When she says if your parents need help, stop funding your retirement
On NBC's "Today" Show, Suze Orman was given this question: "My mom got sick and needs financial help. I’m an only child. Do I stop contributing to my retirement accounts to help her out financially?"
Orman replied, "Yeah, guess what? You do."
She went on to explain: "Later in life when you’ve lost a parent, you're gonna maybe look back and go, 'This money means nothing. Why didn’t I help my mom?'"
What's wrong with that?
While most people might see virtue in wanting to give aging parents financial help, Vicki Cook, co-founder of WomenWhoMoney, says there’s a better way.
"Suze is too quick to say yes, just quit contributing to retirement accounts," Cook says. She recommends that adult children first check the website of their state's office on aging for potential sources of assistance.
“You shouldn’t disregard other support that is available at the expense of investing for your own future," says Cook, who has been through this process with her 80- and 89-year-old parents.
7: When she launched a prepaid debit card
In 2012 Suze Orman created and was paid to endorse a prepaid debit card known as The Approved Card.
The card's website reportedly included the following statement from the money maven: "I am proud to say that The Approved card is the first prepaid card in history to share information with TransUnion, a major credit bureau."
Critics said the marketing bordered on deceptive.
What was wrong with that?
The statement made it seem that The Approved Card was the first prepaid card that could help you build credit. But that wasn’t the case.
Card data was sent to TransUnion only for research. Further into The Approved Card's website, there was another statement saying that "this data will not appear on your TransUnion credit report at this time."
Orman took a lot of heat over the card. Eventually, she lashed out on Twitter at several personal finance professionals who gave her Approved Card bad reviews. She later apologized for her behavior.
8: When she says choose more active investments
Though no one has a crystal ball when it comes to the stock market, many experts agree that broad-based index funds that track, for example, the S&P 500 index are typically a better bet for everyday investors.
Suze Orman agreed with this idea once upon a time. However, in an interview with Money, she switched her position — and left a lot of financial pros scratching their heads.
She acknowledged statistics showing simple, passive index funds outperform 80% of actively managed mutual funds. "But today I think you have to be more active," she said, "and I like [funds] that let you own particular sectors, like [emerging markets, oil and energy or metals and mining].”
What's wrong with that?
Orman's suggested strategy of choosing focused funds "only invites people to time the market and make costly mistakes with their nest egg," says Riley Adams, a licensed CPA working as a senior financial analyst for a tech company in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Adams says Main Street investors should play it safer. "In the long run, a low-cost, diversified passive index fund has proven to be one of the most impactful investments a person can make in their future," he says.
A diversified and passive approach — maybe through an automated investing service like Wealthsimple — minimizes risk and rewards a patient investor.
9: When she says your coffee habit is costing you $1 million
Suze Orman famously says that you shouldn't buy carryout coffee but should instead invest that $3 a day, because in 40 years you'd have $1 million.
“You need to think about it as: You are peeing $1 million down the drain as you are drinking that coffee,” Orman told CNBC Make It.
Wait, what? Can you really turn a $3-per-day coffee habit into $1 million? Experts say it's not that simple.
What's wrong with that?
Orman's anti-coffee stance is based on assumptions that are "wildly off-base," says financial adviser Brenton Harrison, founder of BrentonHarrison.com.
For one thing, you'd need to take your coffee money and put it into an account earning a high, consistent rate of return, like 12%.
"In reality,” Harrison says, "even if you could find an investment that averaged 12% — and if you do, please let me know — the math assumes that you earn 12% every single year, which is not how the stock market works at all."
10: When she disses on the FIRE movement
Suze Orman was recently asked, "Have you heard of the FIRE movement?" Orman's answer was yes, but she didn't stop there.
"I hate it," she told podcaster Paula Pant. "Let me tell you why." From there, she went on a nearly 30-minute rant about why she thinks FIRE — which stands for Financially Independent, Retire Early — is a misguided sham.
Orman said you'd need at least $5 million if you want to retire at a young age safely. As she put it, $2 million wouldn't be enough money to offer you protection "when the floods come."
What's wrong with that?
Naturally, proponents of FIRE weren’t happy with the harsh words. Tori Dunlap, founder of Her First $100K, says Orman doesn't understand that the movement is more nuanced and not focused solely on the idea of retiring early.
“Most folks who FIRE are not actually interested in lounging on a beach somewhere and never being compensated for work again,” Dunlap contends.
"Instead, they are more interested in focusing their time on projects they love (that usually also make an income)."