Personal finance expert and television personality Suze Orman challenged a crowd of hundreds at the Westin resort on Saturday to take the steps with her toward financial freedom.
For two hours, the two-time Emmy Award-winning CNBC television host spoke about her humble beginnings as a waitress at the Buttercup bakery, her financial struggles along the way, and how she came to be a multimillionaire. Orman held back no punches and served a plate of tough love when talking about taking responsibility for personal finances.
“I inspire you to understand that lack of education, not being good in math, not having 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,” said Orman.
“…I’m here to tell every one of you that you are not victims to your circumstances; you are victors. You, and how you feel about how you are. You are your own internal obstacle to your wealth, and you just love to blame it on everybody else,” said Orman.
Orman asked the people with credit card debt to stand, and more than 60 percent of the audience stood up.
“Debt is bondage. 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,” said Orman.
She highlighted the price debt takes on a person’s retirement and future. “Simply when you pay for present day desires, your cost will be your future day needs.”
After discussing how to “get as much pleasure out of saving as you do spending,” she went on to discuss the importance of maintaining a pension for retirement.
Orman said that she was happy to find out that in the Cayman Islands pensions are mandatory. However, she added that the mandatory pension, roughly $12,000 per year, would not be enough money to live on.
She advised residents to take “advantage of the additional voluntary contributions that you can put into your pension.”
She further explained that although retired residents can only take up to $12,000 a year from their mandatory pension fund, there are no restrictions on the voluntary contributions, enabling you to take out “a big lump sum.”
She also revealed some shocking U.S. statistics.
“Over 50 percent of people in the United States have less than $1,000 in savings. Did you know that out of the 300 million people in the U.S. that 150 million of them are in poverty or on the verge of poverty, and the government doesn’t have the money to save them?” said Orman.
After about an hour she opened up the floor for questions and guests in the audience raised concerns about various topics ranging from student loans to investing in market shares and bank returns on payments.
A local student on her way to university asked Orman if she should take out a student loan to pay for school.
Orman responded, “If you don’t get the scholarships or grades, don’t worry, go to a less expensive school that you can afford versus a more prestigious school because if there’s one thing I want you to take away from this, it is a school doesn’t define you, you define your school.”
Resident Sutton Burke said she enjoyed the show.
“She was inspiring, and motivating. Besides her empowering discussion, I also learned that mutual funds are safer than I originally thought and something I will look into more,” said Ms. Burke.