Financial guru and television personality Suze Orman inspired a crowd of hundreds at the Westin resort last week when she shared her tales of becoming a self-made millionaire and the secrets to financial freedom.
Far from her beginnings as a waitress in California, Orman is now the author of a number of books and a financial column, and is also the Emmy Award-winning television star of “The Suze Orman Show.”
Dressed in the same slacks she has owned for 10 years and her only pair of earrings, Orman took residents step-by-step through life’s money battles and educated the 500-strong crowd on financial matters, including saving, spending, pension plans, home loans and credit cards.
Fear, shame and anger are the obstacles to wealth, she says.
“You’re not OK until you have enough money in your own lives to be secure,” Orman said. “Do you all understand what the goal of money is? Do you really think the goal of money is to buy a fancy car, or fancy clothes, or fancy houses? No. The goal of money is for you to feel secure.”
Orman said people do not need to be born into money, or marry into money, and explained she was from a family in which her father was extremely ill and her mother worked as a secretary.
“I’m just like every single one of you here today,” she said. “I inspire you to understand that lack of education, not being good in maths, not having a family that deals with money, whatever your excuses may be in your life that keep you from being more and having more, they just don’t hold up.”
When asking those with credit cards debts to stand up, about 60 percent of guests rose from their seats.
Then, searching for those with a car loan, mortgage, student loan, or personal debt, Orman received responses from 99 percent of the crowd.
“Debt is bondage,” Orman said.
“You will never have financial freedom when you are in bondage. If there was one thing that I could tell you, it would be stop spending money you don’t have to impress people you don’t know or even like.”
She said the way out of credit card debt is simple if people follow a few laws.
Before purchasing something ask, “Do you need those things or do you want them?” she said.
“Just because you can afford to buy a new car does not mean you should buy a new car. If you can afford to rent a 2,000 square-foot home, but you don’t need it, rent a 1,500 square-foot home,” she says.
“Just because you have the money to buy something doesn’t mean you should buy it. If you live below your means but within your needs, you are on the road to financial freedom.”
She said if a consumer recognizes something was a want and not a need, they should walk away from it.
Orman commended the Cayman Island’s government for ensuring that pensions are mandatory, stating it will save people after retirement.
However, she urged employees to contribute more than the mandatory 5 percent, stating that after retirement only $12,000 could be pulled out of the pension annually, which would not be enough to live on.
“Cayman Islands have mandatory pension plans where the employer has to pay 5 percent into it and you have pay 5 percent as well. But do you really think that is enough money for you to be able to retire on one day?”
Employees should make voluntary contributions to their pensions, should ensure they have the best pension company, and should check their statements each month, she says.
“This isn’t money you want to be risking, because this is your retirement,” Orman said.
“May you get as much pleasure out of saving as you do spending.”