A hearty welcome to “Grandma’s Wealth Wisdom” with your neighborly hosts, Brandon and Amanda Neely. This is the only podcast that helps you take charge of your cash flow and leverage your assets, simply and sustainably, the way Grandma used to.
Amanda: Hi. I’m Amanda Neely, and welcome to Grandma's Wealth Wisdom, where we help you break through to a smart, stable, financial future, with the tried and true wisdom Grandma used.
Brandon: Hey, I'm Brandon, and in today's episode, we're calling it “What we love and hate about Suze.” Now, remember last week we talked about Dave or two weeks ago. In this one, we figured, hey, we're not going to just go and share all about Dave. We want to share about all of the gurus out there.
I remember when Amanda and I first got married and we were really taking on the challenge to bring our finances into adulthood. I mean, I was an adult, but my finances were not in adulthood. [01:10.1]
Amanda: That’s one way to say it.
Brandon: Yeah, and Amanda got this giant huge book, and I don't know if you know Amanda, but she loves highlighters, and she had read this book through and through with a lot of highlighting involved. Anytime we would make a decision, she would go to her highlighted section in that book and it was like the Bible for money for her.
Amanda: And who wrote that book?
Brandon: The Bible for money? Suze. Right? Isn't that right?
Amanda: Yeah, you didn't say that. That’s why.
Brandon: What do you mean? Oh, the Bible for Amanda was Suze Orman, and whenever we made those decisions, we would look at that book. But today we're going to talk about what we learned about that time and what's different now. [02:00.0]
Amanda: Yeah, Suze was totally my go-to source back then and I’ve long since donated that book to Goodwill, but I still remember deciding to take the match on my 403(b) at work, even though we hadn't paid off all our debt, because of how I interpreted Suze's advice in the book.
Brandon: Yeah, same here. I think the best thing about having that book was that it gave us a third-party perspective when we were making decisions as newlyweds and I remember watching her on TV, so I was like, Oh, she must be right because she was on TV.
Amanda: Yeah, and I think you're onto something there, Brandon, because I want to start today's conversation with six words that I read in that book out of this huge book, six words that have really stuck with me and guided my money time and time again, and there's still something I bring up every once in a while today. It's the best thing I’ve ever read or heard from Suze and it's six little words that say so much: “People first, then money, then things.” [03:03.2]
“People first, then money, then things.” People first means you put those you love and your relationships with them ahead of everything else, your money and your things. You don't let money get in between you and your loved ones and you don't let things get in the way between you and your loved ones. You put people first.
Then after you put people first, then comes money, and that means you figure out your financial strategy is for saving for the future, paying off debt, so forth, before you look at the things you want to buy, right? You’ve got that strategy.
“And then things” puts expenses in the last place, deciding whether you can afford a latte every morning, which we'll come back to, comes after you've gotten your financial house in order, right?
So, people first, then money, then things. The order is so important. She's kind of saying you can't decide you want a big house and then figure out how to make your money work toward that big house, and then decide the life partner you need in order to get that big house, right? It just doesn't work that way. [04:04.4]
Instead, you might fall in love and you keep putting that loved one first, right, or the children that you have, the people you care about first. You get on the same page, especially with life partners, about common goals and values, and then you align your financial strategy with those goals and values, and with how your relationship works and things like that. Then, finally, you decide what things or experiences you can purchase from what's left.
Brandon: I do want to have a quick note here and say that even if you're single or newly single, people first for you might still look a little different. It might not be that life partner. It could be other family or it could even be yourself. Actually, it should start with yourself and taking care of yourself.
The whole idea behind people first is to be in control of your money and tell it what you want it to do for you rather than be controlled by it. You can do that in whatever relationships you're in or not in. [05:14.2]
Amanda: That's what we love most about Suze, those six little words that say so much, people first, then money, then things. You could meditate on that and what it looks like for you and spend a lifetime, just following those six words, and you'd probably do better than most with your money.
Brandon: This brings us to what we aren't so excited about with Suze and that's just two big words, and that is “blanket statements.”
Amanda: Yeah, if you've ever watched or read Suze, she operates in a very black or white or cut and dry kind of world. People might call in and give her a really quick rundown of what advice they're for and she'll give them a blanket-statement response, without really getting to know them very well and, seeing within her books, it's very much there's one way or there's one question to ask kind of thing. [06:11.7]
We've got some examples of what some of those blanket statements are that she practices or she tells people and why we don't think they should be just blanket statements to say, Oh, everyone, a hundred percent of the people should do those things.
Brandon: Yeah. She says telling everyone to do a Roth IRA without qualifications. I heard that many, many times, and, of course, a Roth IRA might be a good thing to do. Roth IRAs might be good for most, but maybe not for a 58-year-old with nothing saved for retirement or a 33-year-old entrepreneur who needs accessible cash to grow their business over the next 20 years. That's going to be a very different question than do they need a Roth IRA in their entrepreneurial endeavor like us. [07:06.1]
Amanda: Yeah, and then another one is that she very much expects everyone to retire at age 70. She says plan on it. Don't expect to retire early and, in fact, because we're living longer, you're doing yourself a disservice if you retire before you're 70. I think that's probably a good idea. You might even plan to work until you're 70, but there's no guarantee that you're going to be able to.
The stats show about 50% of retirees are forced into retirement by things like layoffs, the inability to find employment, their own illness or the illness of a loved one. I mean, doesn't it make sense to be prepared in case you are forced to retire early? Not to mention there's this whole movement of people that are retiring from their day job as early as possible, as young as possible, to pursue a passion, and to maybe even make money from that passion, and I hope lots of people get to do that before they're age 70. The world needs more people doing that, in my humble opinion. [08:07.4]
Brandon: Yeah, exactly. She's also pretty clear and about proactive stock market investing over passive index funds. She is very much proactive stock market. The problem comes in when active stock market investing means you're trying to time the market and that often leads to costly mistakes, and I’ve seen her come on NBC news and all that stuff recently with, I don't know, all kinds of things because of COVID and different things, and they bring her on because she's the expert.
Now, we're not saying passive index funds are the best thing. What we're saying is to know your overall strategy before you decide to jump into the market. Then you'll be able to choose a market strategy that works for your overall goals and values, not just dependent solely on that. [09:08.0]
Amanda: Also, before you decide to jump into the stock market, we invite you to look up what Suze does with her own money. There's lots of people that have found that she is not actively participating in the stock market like she tells other people to do. Especially now that she's older, you might find that she's not following her own advice here and, particularly if you're around her age or will be one day, you'll want to pay close attention to what she's doing, not what she says to do, right?
Brandon: Yeah, and that goes into saying some of the advice may change with time and age, too.
Amanda: Yeah, exactly.
Grandma always said, “Eat your vegetables. Look both ways before crossing the road. And never risk your financial future on elements of the market you can’t control.” That Grandma, always good for some tried-and-true advice. And although some of her wisdom seems to have skipped a generation, you don't have to be left behind.
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Amanda: Okay. Now we've got two more here, my second favorite one number four, before we get to the fifth and final one, Suze is pretty clearly against really good coffee. She told CNBC Make It, “You are peeing $1 million down the drain as you are drinking that coffee.” Now…
Brandon: That's when things changed for you I think.
Amanda: No, no, no. I don't remember if that's true, but I know there's probably some of her math that's heavily off-base there. We're not going to get it all into the math today, but as coffee lovers, we love supporting local coffee roasters who source responsibly. That means we're paying more for our coffee and, yes, we drink it daily and sometimes multiple times a day, but that doesn't mean we're being irresponsible financially. [11:08.0]
We actually think we're focused on some of the larger items for being smart about money, right? For example, we get a smaller mortgage than we were approved for. That'll save us a lot of money and maybe we'll have more money we can put to work earning real uninterrupted compound interest because we’ve got that smaller mortgage.
Also, something we haven't really talked about that much, we haven't owned a car in over 10 years. That's a choice we made when we had a car that got totaled on the side of the road in Chicago. We just said, “We’ll buy one when we really need one,” and we haven't needed one since. I mean, would you agree that having those larger cost items under control will have a bigger impact on our financial future, compared with drinking coffee instead of water each morning?
Brandon: And I will clarify. We do have a car. It just happens to be your mom's car and it's all taken care of, paid off, and… [12:02.5]
Amanda: But we wouldn't have it if she wasn't living with us, right?
Amanda: We haven't needed a car except that we help take care of her.
Brandon: Yeah, we probably wouldn't even need it now. We'd just walk to the [store]. Everything is so close by.
Brandon: Now, the fifth and final thing might not surprise you if you’ve heard the last two episodes on this show. Suze says the only life insurance you should bother with is term insurance, right? She's very clear that life insurance is not meant to be an investment product, and here's the thing. We actually agree with her that it's not an investment product. She's right. Life insurance isn't meant to be an investment. Grandma didn't treat it that way either.
When we talk about grandma's strategy, we're not talking about an investment. We're talking about treating it as a savings product to help pay for life's major expenses, and also to be a protector for her and her family in the process. That's what it was all set up for. Savings is very different than investing. So, Suze is right here, but we do need to have that in place. [13:15.5]
Amanda: Yeah, so she's half, right? We agree with the part that life insurance is not meant to be an investment product, but we disagree where she says the only life insurance you should bother with is term insurance, because actually term insurance can only serve one role. It can only protect your family during its term.
It actually doesn't build up any kind of cash reserves that you can use to buy a car or put the down payment on a home, or send your kids to college or supplement your income in retirement while you're still alive, and once the term is over, there goes the protection for your family, the only benefit that it’s there for, and miss a payment and your term insurance policy could easily lapse. It seems it's at least worth a bother to consider something different. [14:04.3]
Brandon: Now, be sure to check out Episode 65 because we talk about that that not all whole life is equal either. Our bottom line in this is you owe it to yourself, your family and your future self to take a good look before following a blanket statement about any kind of insurance or following some person on YouTube or any of that. You want to do your own research and come to your own conclusion, not just the conclusions of the bigwigs.
Amanda: Right, which leads us to our wrap-up today. What all of this boils down to is this, and I hope Suze would agree with us on this if she is ever listening to this—Suze, we love you. We wish you -
Brandon: Most of the time, with some things.
Amanda: - all the best. No, we do. We wish you all the best. But it boils down to this: do the work. We firmly believe you can't just do what someone else tells you to do. You’ve got to do the work yourself to make sure you're making the right decisions for you. [15:05.8]
But do the work doesn't mean you have to study financial matters in all of your spare time and have that eat up everything that you ever do and kill all the fun in your life. What we believe is the three key ingredients of “do the work” are these three things. Brandon, go with number one.
Brandon: Number one is get your loved ones and talk about your goals and values. Have a conversation with your closest relatives and your spouse, and get as clear as possible about these things. Now, you can't rush clarity, but having those conversations are key, and I can tell you as I talk to clients all the time, these conversations are not being had, by and large, and we need to have these conversations. [15:56.4]
Amanda: Yeah, so if you do that part of the work, just getting with the people that you care most about, talking about goals and values, you don't need to know financial products at this point, right? You just need to know what do you want your life to be about? Because then you can come to number two and you can think for yourself, create your own money systems based on those unique goals and concerns when you decide, Here's what I want my life to be about.
Step two is about starting to align your money with what you want your life to be about, and this can start with simple monthly savings, spending and investing, and what you're going to do, what you're going to do with your money, even running a budget, right, and it can build from there. But at a minimum, getting a handle on those everyday expenses, what you're doing with your money on a daily basis, is tremendously helpful for step number two here, where you're starting to align your money with your goals and concerns.
Then we get to step number three of do the work.
Brandon: And that is to work with a financial professional who's going to take hours to get to know you, and recommend places to do research and learn. They're not just going to give you products, but they're going to give you homework, places where you can research and learn yourself. [17:12.7]
A good financial professional has waded through lots of available resources out there so that you don't have to, especially as you move from everyday expenses to making decisions about what to do with savings and investing. You'll want a financial professional that helps you learn, not just tells you what to do. You want somebody that is an educator and you don't have to be rich to have a financial professional.
Now, again, I want to stress on this that Suze is a financial edutainer, maybe not an educator in some regards, and you want to find a balance of somebody that is listening to you and helping you make your decision, not just what those again, blanket statements. [18:01.5]
Amanda: Yeah, and you don't have to be rich to have someone on your side like that.
To wrap up today, before you go, call into a radio or TV show and ask for financial advice that would be given to any Tom, Dick Or Harry. We highly suggest you follow Suze’s advice to put people first, then money, and then things. Have the conversations with your loved one. Get a handle on your spending plan. Talk to a professional who's a true educator that will at least take an hour to hear your story, hear all your financial details, and help you put together a roadmap forward.
If you still need the show host to give you advice after hearing two minutes of your story and using blanket statements that would be shared again with any Tom, Dick or Harry, then go for it. More power to you. Go ahead and make that call in. But chances are, if you've done the work of getting clear on your goals, aligning your money with those goals and seeking a professional to help you learn what you don't know to learn, to help you ask the questions you don't know to ask, then you likely won't need to call in for a blanket statement. [19:11.6]
Brandon: Next time, we are not just going to with Suze and Dave. We're going to talk about Mr. Robert Kiyosaki. If you're a business owner or a real estate investor, the next episode is for you and you're probably already familiar with his quadrants, but we will go into what we think about those quadrants.
Amanda: Until next time, keep building your wealth simply and sustainably, so you can break through to a smart, stable, financial future.
The topics presented in this podcast are for general information only and not for the purposes of providing legal, accounting or investment advice. On such matters, please consult a professional who knows your specific situation.
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