Podcast Episode - Ask Suze & KT Anything: Do You Think You’re Old?


Career, Credit, Insurance, Investing


June 29, 2023

Listen to Podcast Episode:

On this Ask Suze and KT Anything episode, Suze answers your questions about disability insurance, salary negotiations, credit monitoring, target date funds and more.


Podcast Transcript:

00:00:01

Music: Music (in)

00:00:33

Suze: June 29th, 2023. Welcome everybody to the Women and Money podcast as well as everybody smart enough to listen today is the what KT?

00:00:46

KT: Ask KT and Suze anything you want.

00:00:52

Suze: You thought that was a trick question? I was asking...

00:00:54

KT: No, it was Ask KT and Suze anything you want, but Suze's gonna give you the answer or not. I have quite a mixed bag today.

00:01:06

Suze: KT, when you not... You are a mixed bag.

00:01:09

KT: I am. But, um, there's many questions still concerning CDs and, and all those kinds of things. Maybe we should do another Suze school on that again.

00:01:21

Suze: No way, allright, sweetheart.

00:01:24

KT: Ok. Are we ready? We have a lot. I have a big stack and..

00:01:27

Suze: Wait KT, I think we're approximately halfway through Robert's galavanting to the...

00:01:34

KT: Which is the one you showed me the other day. It was so many people. Where the heck was that?

00:01:39

Suze: Oh, well, that I don't, I think New Jersey. It was crazy.

00:01:42

KT: And we were trying to think if our friend Sandy was there. All our friends that were like Dead Heads back in the day still go to those concerts. And these are like old people...

00:01:53

Suze: Like God, he would have been so jealous to know that we were back

00:01:56

Suze: stage with the Grateful Dead.

00:01:58

KT: And they love Suze, especially the drummer.

00:02:01

Suze: You can't call him a drummer. He's a percussionist. He doesn't like being called.

00:02:07

KT: He loved, you, loved, you loved Suze, loved her work. OK? Are we ready? Ok. Here we go. Everybody. This is, this is from Jasmine. I picked this one first

00:02:19

KT: to kind of set the stage here so that all of you listening will do the same thing. Jasmine did encourage your brothers and your sisters or your friends. Anyone that's too shy to ask Suze a question to just do it. We're not going to judge you. So Jasmine asks this question on behalf of her brother-in-law. It's regarding disability insurance and she said, KT and Suze, he's too shy to ask.

00:02:47

KT: So, Kevin, whose married, this is Jasmine.

00:02:51

Suze: Do you think they're too shy of me or too shy of you?

00:02:54

KT: They're too shy of you. Oh my God. To get a slap down. They're afraid of the people, they're afraid of you. They're not, no one's afraid of me.

00:03:02

KT: So, Kevin... Kevin is Jasmine's brother. He's married, he has three kids, 17 15 and 11. He's the sole income earner in his household. He makes a decent living and part of his company's benefits is a $15,000 a month disability insurance tax free. That's great.

00:03:26

KT: They would pay up until he's 67 years old. Additionally, his company is offering a 25% discount on a $500 month premium for a 12,000 per month additional coverage tax free. Is it worth getting this additional disability insurance?

00:03:48

Suze: Oh, boy, you know, I have to tell you out of all the insurances that are out there

00:03:53

Suze: disability insurance, believe it or not, Jasmine is one of the more complicated ones to actually understand how does it work? When does it take effect? Is it a policy that will cover you that's known as an Any Occ, an Owner's Occ? There are so many things that I would need to know about that policy

00:04:19

Suze: and so at $500 a month, that's $6000 a year.

00:04:26

Suze: I don't know, I can't answer that. I would probably not be doing it because he's already covered and maybe he makes a whole lot more than $15,000 a month tax free. But I have a feeling what he's getting right now tax free

00:04:44

Suze: and without any cost is probably what he should stick to. All right, KT.

00:04:50

KT: Next questions from Lulu. Suze, I loved your recent article on Salary negotiation and the point on where you start is so important. I turned 60 this year and have worked for the same company for 30 years and I started bringing home $850 a month being a single mom.

00:05:11

Suze: It is surreal to look back on those days. Now, here's my question after 30 years of busting my tail. How do I maximize my next round contract? Mine is set for April 2024 or do I just ask for a different comp package for those not on the contract? I have read about deferred comp and things like that.

00:05:36

KT: So Suze, what would be the top negotiating strategies over and above just salary to help with the overall long term plan that most of us would not think about or know about.

00:05:49

Suze: So the first thing you have to do, Lulu is understand what other benefits your company

00:05:56

Suze: offers that you currently are not getting. Do they offer long term care insurance? That would be a fabulous benefit. Do they offer extended vacation? Because maybe you would want that because you've been there for so long. Can you get that? But the main thing when negotiating something

00:06:15

Suze: is to negotiate from a place of power,

00:06:19

Suze: from a place of knowing your own self worth and believing in everything that you are asking for, not just to get it because they offer it, but to get it because you deserve it and you need it very different.

00:06:39

Suze: So you don't negotiate from a place of greed, you negotiate from a place of need and that is where I would start and I would come at it with honesty, integrity and having the best of all straight from your heart. Next question. KT.

00:06:58

KT: Next question is from Celia. Hi, Suze. I just recently retired at age 66. I was in health care.

00:07:07

KT: My portfolio is now around $700,000. I've not withdrawn anything as of yet. The number sounds good, but I'm afraid to start taking money out because of the tax implications. I started Social Security this year.

00:07:23

KT: So just going by the social security income alone, everything is doable on a tight budget. My other concern is if something were to happen to me, my IRA will go into inheritance and a huge chunk to taxes.

00:07:40

KT: And then she's asking, I wish my financial planners advised me on the choices of IRA versus Roth. Is it advisable to move some of the IRA money into a Roth at this time, Celia is 66. What should she do?

00:07:57

Suze: KT...

00:07:58

KT: Is that a pop quiz?

00:08:00

Suze: It's not a pop quiz. It's actually a question for us. You and me.

00:08:05

Suze: So here we are. And it was striking me so deep. I have to tell you when you were reading this is that I had a flashback to when I would be answering questions like this. But when I was 45 we're old and so many people now are writing in. I'm 60, I'm 66. And here we sit 72. You about to be 71 in a few weeks. KT

00:08:34

Suze: what does it make you feel like knowing that we're older than these people now? Versus?

00:08:39

KT: I never think like that and I never feel like that. I never read a question from someone considerably younger than me. Worried about getting old like I am, I never think like that because I don't feel like that.

00:08:53

Suze: So you don't feel old on any level?

00:08:54

KT: Not at all. I know I'm old, but I don't feel old and I don't think I'm old. I just find it. So, do you think you're old?

00:09:03

Suze: Um,

00:09:05

Suze: I obviously must, I don't feel like I'm old but I think about getting older, I'll be honest with you, it 60 was fine. 50 was easy. 60 was fine. 70 was even kind of easy, right? But then I think 80

00:09:22

Suze: and I'm not sure I'll quite feel the same way when I'm 80.

00:09:27

Suze: Celia, let me first take the last part of your question, which is, is it advisable to move some of the IRA money into a Roth at this time? Absolutely not.

00:09:41

Suze: Because if you move it into a Roth, you are going to pay taxes on any amount that you do convert.

00:09:50

Suze: Right. So, since you're gonna need this money sooner than later anyway, just leave it exactly where it is. That's number one. Number two, it seems like you're just kind of making it on your social security that it's a struggle, but you say that you're worried about the tax implications. Listen to me, if your only income is your social security,

00:10:19

Suze: then you know, it's not gonna kill you on any level. If you take out like $12,000 a year, it's not gonna make your social security taxable. It's not gonna put you in any kind of tax bracket at all. So I personally would be taking the money out

00:10:36

Suze: that you need to either live on or just pay taxes on it now and put it in a savings account if you want not into a Roth. Right? Because remember if you convert it to a Roth,

00:10:49

Suze: then the five year clock starts. So you just don't want to do that at this point in time. I don't want you to worry that your IRA is going to go to inheritance and a huge chunk will go to taxes. Please do not let taxes rule your decisions in terms of the quality of life that you deserve to live.

00:11:14

Suze: You worked for this money, you need to worry about yourself. You need to make a plan for yourself and anything that happens after you're gone. Ok. But don't worry so much about taxes because by worrying about taxes, you may be creating for yourself a bigger problem, believe it or not. Also, don't forget that if your portfolio is in a retirement account

00:11:41

Suze: starting at the age of 73 you do have to start taking required minimum distributions. So, if you start taking a little bit out of there now and even saving it, the amount of the required minimum distributions will be less when you are 73. And that's because KT there won't be as much money in the account.

00:12:06

KT: So this is a, this is a good one. This is from Elsie. Suze. Love you gals. Never stop laughing like trust me, she's telling us, never stop laughing. That's why I don't feel old. I can still laugh a lot at you.

00:12:22

Suze: Do you laugh at me a lot? What's the thing that makes you laugh the most?

00:12:26

KT: When you get mad at me for something that you shouldn't be mad at me about and I look at you and I start laughing and you get really mad even more mad

00:12:36

KT: matter matter. OK? So ready from Elsie, Susie.

00:12:41

KT: My CD at Alliant is coming due. I don't need this money for at least two years. I live pretty close to you all in Florida. So she's a Floridian. Should I, should I just put the money in Alliant savings account or if not? Which CD should I get? I don't need this money. I just want it to be safe and sound.

00:13:06

KT: Tell Elsie what I did.

 

00:13:07

Suze: Well, no, I'm gonna tell Elsie what she should do. All right. So Elsie, if you don't need the money for two years. You live in Florida, which is a state tax free state. All right, I would absolutely put it in the 18 month certificate of deposit for 5.15%.

00:13:31

Suze: Now, remember the 18 month, even though they don't advertise it like this, you can lock it up for 23 months at 5.15%. So you should absolutely put it in

00:13:46

Suze: since the money's already at Alliant . And by the way, for those of you whose money is not at Alliant, you should do this as well. Is that put it into a CD for 23 months at 5.15%. If you look at what currently the two year treasury note is paying, it's only like 4.6%.

00:14:12

Suze: So you're at a lot higher interest rate for just one month less. So if I were you right, that's exactly what I would be doing and I would be doing it today because you do not know when that 5.15% will decrease for those of you who are looking for certificates of deposits. I am telling you the 18 month

00:14:38

Suze: and this rate is good for the 18 through 23 months. So every year you choose which term you want or you can do a combination of all of them is paying 5.15%. Good luck finding that anywhere else. And the CD is not callable which means

00:14:55

Suze: you're guaranteed to get that interest rate for the entire time to check it out. Go to my Alliant dot com. That's myalliant dot com.

00:15:10

KT: That's what I did, Suze.

00:15:13

Suze: Ok. This is why didn't you do a 23 month?

00:15:16

KT: Because I didn't, I just did it myself and I didn't ask you. I didn't know you could do that.

00:15:24

Suze: Now, should I laugh at you?

00:15:26

KT: You can. But I, I'll do, I'll continue it. All right, ready. This is from Todd. Hello. My favorite love bugs. I have to tell everyone about...

00:15:44

Suze: Wait... Why didn't I tell KT, I wanted her to do 23 month versus the 18 month. Ok. It's very important for all of you that are in a relationship and maybe one of you knows all about money

00:16:02

Suze: and the other one...

00:16:04

KT: Can you guess in our family, who knows more about money?

00:16:10

Suze: And the other one is still kind of learning

00:16:14

KT: The other one knows how to garden.

00:16:17

Suze: Which I do. Not. All right. It's important that they learn from their mistakes. Everybody, not a huge mistake. Like I kind of knew what KT was doing, but I wanted KT to feel powerful enough and I still do KT that you can take action on your own. And now, you know, if you want to invest more money, what you can do.

00:16:40

Suze: Right. So, but you have to empower your mate, you have to. Otherwise if something happens to me or something happens to you. What kind of situation does that leave them in? So please know that.

00:16:56

KT: Ok. All right. Next question is from Todd. Hello. My favorite love bugs.

00:17:01

Suze: Oh, my God. I haven't heard that...

00:17:04

KT: The love bug was something that Suze would refer to the callers often on the Suze Orman show when we were on television. Remember everyone called and people used to send her all these little love bugs, like little

00:17:18

KT: lady bug, um, animals.

00:17:21

Suze: And you know, you know why I did that because I couldn't remember the name. I'm not really good at name recall. And so a lot of times things are happening very quickly, especially and I'm speaking. So I would say, listen, Love Bug. So once I'm on Larry King, right? And somebody calls in and I can't remember their name and I'm answering the question

00:17:46

Suze: and I don't want to say to Larry, what was their name or whatever. So I say, listen, Love Bug and Larry goes love bug?

00:17:53

Suze: Love bug? I go, yeah. Once I did it, I called somebody Pop Tart and the other people on the panel on Larry King went Pop Tart? I went. Anyway. There you go. All right.

00:18:04

KT: So Suze, you are always on top of trust and you always talk about revocable. But here's an irrevocable trust question.

00:18:14

KT: I like so many people in my age group are dealing with aging parents and assisted living in nursing homes. It's so frustrating to have to use up all of your hard earned retirement fund for these costs, which are running about $10,000 a month. Should we have an irrevocable trust

00:18:36

KT: or should we get an irrevocable trust? So, listen, wait, this is from San Francisco, buddy boy, buddy, boy or love bug, buddy, boy, he's from San Francisco.

00:18:46

Suze: This is the problem. All trusts have a five-year look back period. So any money that you put into the irrevocable or revocable trust, whatever it is to get it out,

00:18:58

Suze: out of your estate. And for those of you who don't know, an irrevocable trust is a trust that's irrevocable. It means you cannot change anything about it. So therefore it is out of your estate, a revocable trust, you can change it any time you can do anything you want with it, but an irrevocable trust you cannot not.

00:19:23

Suze: And I know there are a whole lot of articles and lawyers out there that say put your parents money in an irrevocable trust and then it won't be part of their estate. And therefore if they spend down all of their money, they can go on Medicaid and all of that other money will be safe

00:19:43

Suze: again. As I started to say, there's usually a five year look back period. Any money that you put within five years in a trust will be disqualified if you then need to qualify for Medicaid because they know that you did that to qualify for Medicaid. All right. So that's one thing to know. However,

00:20:06

Suze: this is more an ethical question truthfully,

00:20:11

Suze: which is, you know, I have a saying, people first then money

00:20:16

Suze: and I know that it's a heartbreak to watch somebody's entire amount of money that they saved to be spent on their care.

00:20:27

Suze: But I ask you all to think about it really, really seriously, think about it. What was that money for? It's for your parents or whosever money it is to be used to take care of them in the best facility in the best way possible with the best services, it's not just so that they can go on Medicaid. So the kids get all the money

00:20:56

Suze: if you think care in a nursing home is as good on Medicaid

00:21:02

Suze: versus when you are a private pay patient,

\

00:21:07

Suze: I'm here to tell you it is not.

00:21:11

Suze: So I would not be doing that just to protect money so that my kids could get it or therefore you Todd would get it.

00:21:22

Suze: I wouldn't care if they spent every single penny that they had getting the best care possible because that's what their money is truly for

00:21:34

Suze: bringing back memories to you. Both of us. Yeah. You know, both of us obviously. And we say that because I spent millions keeping my mother

00:21:47

Suze: um, in a home with a private nurse and everything. KT bought her mother the actual apartment in a life care facility that also was a private room when she needed to go to skilled nursing. And still above all that paid $6000 a month for a nurse, a private nurse to be there. Besides all the other expenses.

00:22:13

Suze: And the greatest thing we can say about it is they sure were taken care of. Oh, now KT is crying.

00:22:22

Suze: All right. You feel better?

00:22:24

KT: Now, I get a little emotional. Maybe that's because I'm getting old.

00:22:29

KT: Ok. From Marion. Hi, Suze. I pay a credit monitoring fee monthly. Is this really necessary? I know credit Karma and Credit Sesame is free. Are those worth it? Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I've been following you for years. If she's been following you for years, she didn't need to ask this question.

00:22:51

KT: Oh, should this have been your quizzie? But here's what I would pay a fee, Marion. Listen to me. No, she's saying I know Credit Karma and Credit Sesame is, is free. Are those worth it? Here's what I would tell you obviously. Anything that's free. All right. I don't have a problem with, but if you really, really, really want to protect your credit,

00:23:14

Suze: really just do credit freezes on all three credit bureaus and then pretty much your credit is protected. So if I were you, that's what I would do and then you can just easily check it yourself and not have to pay for it. So I would not be paying a fee to have credit monitoring that I can tell you. Ok.

00:23:37

KT: Next question from Michael,

00:23:39

KT: I'm a new listener. And my question is, would it be ok to take a traditional IRA out and invest the money in real estate, like maybe a multifamily duplex.

00:23:51

Suze: Now,

00:23:53

Suze: if you go Michelangelo, that's a no. And the reason it's a no is, I don't know how old you are. All right. But here's the thing, you take money out of a traditional IRA. Not only are you gonna pay ordinary income taxes on it? But if you're not 59.5 years of age or older, you're gonna pay a 10% penalty as well. Just keep your IRA.

00:24:17

Suze: And if you want, you can start converting that traditional IRA to a Roth. All right, because you should have Roth IRAs Roth 401ks Roth 403bs, Roth TSP is a Roth. Do you hear me? Everybody? You want to invest money, invest money in real estate, like maybe a multifamily duplex.

00:24:37

Suze: You should not have to take money out of a retirement account to do so. You should have the money on the side to do so. So. No. All right.

00:24:47

KT: This next question is a tongue twister from Kelly. Are you ready for this one? I am incrementally moving money from my

00:24:55

KT: rollover IRA that was previously in my pretax 401k to my Roth Ira. Is it better to move a position as is convert a position to cash them, move it, move or cash in the lowest performer or does any of that matter since it would be the same dollar amount? Either way, any advice on the most strategic way to move value from 401k to roll over to Roth IRA would be greatly appreciated.

00:25:25

KT: Kelly. I don't mean to laugh but this question, honest to God, when I read it, I read it like 20 times and I said, I'm gonna read this to Suze really fast and see if she can catch it. All right, I'm not gonna give you this, this in front of me. Can you answer that?

00:25:39

Suze: Yes, I can answer it. So, Kelly, it depends what investments you're in and if you want those investments still, so to break it down for all of you, what Kelly

00:25:49

Suze: asking is she has money in a 401k that she wants to convert over to a Roth Ira. Should she convert it in the investments that she already has? Should she cash them out? What should she do? What's the most effective way to convert something if you are invested in things that you want to be invested in

00:26:13

Suze: and those things happen to be down in value. Those are the things that you should absolutely convert first because the less value they have, the less taxes that you pay. Um the conversion. If you have items that are really doing great stocks or whatever it may be that are doing great. And you want to keep them as well.

00:26:42

Suze: You might want to just wait a little and see if the market takes them down, what's going to happen to them because I would not convert them when they were really high. I would convert them if they had a downward trend and everything has a down

00:26:59

Suze: word trend sooner than later. So I wouldn't convert everything all at once. I would convert those investments that I have the biggest losses in. And hey, if you don't want to keep those investments anymore, sell them and just convert the cash,

00:27:16

Suze: but you should do a combination of it all. KT got a few more because it's almost quizzie time.

00:27:23

KT: I have, I have, I have a few more, but I'm just gonna do this one from Terry and this will make you feel good because Terry's 76 ready. Does it make any sense at all to take RMD required minimum distributions and redeposit it into a non ira same fund account?

00:27:45

KT: I feel it is balancing out the withdrawal and purchase at the same price, thereby offsetting the drawdown of shares and their lower price. My funds are down so badly that I hate seeing them be sold off for such a lower price in order to do the RMD, I'm 76 in the vanguard Target retirement fund 2020.

00:28:10

KT: What should Terry do?

00:28:11

Suze: So, Terry, your first thing has to be, is that where you want to be invested. Would you be better off rather than being invested in that, being invested within your retirement account in either treasuries or certificates of deposits or other things than the Vanguard Target retirement fund 2020.

00:28:34

Suze: Because truthfully it really shouldn't have been down as much as it is. If, however, for whatever reason you have decided, If you want to stay in the Vanguard Target retirement fund 2020

00:28:48

Suze: For those of you who don't know what a Vanguard Target Retirement fund 2020 is, that was the year that Terry decided 2020 that Terry was going to retire. So supposedly retirement funds, target date, retirement funds change the investments. So that by the time you retire, they're conservative, the money is there and you don't have to worry.

00:29:14

Suze: Well, obviously that didn't work out so good for you. I just say it that way and I don't mean to be sarcastic to you by any means, Terry, that I have told all of you. I am not a fan of target date funds. This is one of the reasons why you don't invest according to age, you invest according to what's happening in the economy at the time, it's happening. So

00:29:41

Suze: if you want to remain in the target date fund with your RMD, take it out and repurchase it, I don't know, I think there's a whole lot better things than you could be doing with your money than repurchasing what you already have. So, bottom line, if it were me, I most certainly would not be doing that.

00:30:02

KT: Suze, You got anything else for me?

00:30:04

Suze: I have such a simple quizzie for you.

00:30:09

KT: Is it like a yes or no answer?

00:30:11

Suze: I... kinda,

00:30:12

KT: Is it gonna be a two parter?

00:30:13

Suze: It's a two parter.

00:30:14

KT: Oh, I hate those. All right.

00:30:17

Suze: Ok. Not like your personality to say hate.

00:30:21

KT: I don't like a two parters. I like a yes or no.

00:30:25

Suze: All of you. When I say thumbs up, I say when I say something that isn't quite polite, she goes, that's not polite. Don't say that.

00:30:33

KT: Take it back. I say that's not nice all the time. And my sister, they all say cancel, cancel, cancel, cancel, cancel and says that whatever, but the word hate isn't nice. Cancel, cancel. All right. What's my quizzie? Hey, tell everybody what a quizzie is.

00:30:56

Suze: Oh, yeah, it happens when you get old. A quizzie is when I ask KT on behalf of all of you a question that at this point in time I should know the answer. You should know the answer. And so should all of you if in fact, you've been listening to the Women and Money podcast for all these years now? So think about it all of you when I ask

00:31:23

Suze: and let's see if you can all get it. Right. Hi, Suze and KT,

00:31:29

Suze: I am currently contributing to my rollover IRA with after tax dollars. Will I be taxed again when I take distributions? Thank you so much. So, it's KT, it's not a Roth IRA. It's an IRA roll over. She has a 401k most likely at some place that she's working. She's never paid taxes on it.

00:31:58

Suze: Ok. And now she's doing it into a rollover IRA. But within her 401k she contributed with, after tax dollars different than a Roth in many 401k s you are allowed to put money into the 401k with money that you've already paid taxes on.

00:32:25

Suze: But the growth of that money is taxable. When you go to take it out with a Roth IRA, you fund it with money, you've paid taxes on, but the growth of that money is tax free.

00:32:39

Suze: So the question I repeat, will I be taxed again when I take distributions?

00:32:49

KT: No.

00:32:51

Suze: It's all going to be tax free?

00:32:54

KT: No, it's a two part question. So she only pays taxes on the interest earned.

00:33:02

Suze: Or the growth of it. That's your final answer?

00:33:06

KT: Yes.

00:33:14

Suze: Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. That's good. You did. I'm so proud of you. But here's the point of what's important about this one. KT heard it and she immediately heard Roth IRA because she heard the words after tax. I know her. So she thought, oh, of course, it's all gonna be tax free.

00:33:37

Suze: And I knew that because she said, is this a one part or two part answer. When you said that, then you explain the two part, then I knew. So that's why it's important to always listen and ask questions.

00:33:50

KT: There's never a question that's wrong or stupid or, or what.

00:33:56

Suze: So, and if you want to ask a what question or whatever, all you have to do is send

00:34:02

Suze: in your question to ask Suze Suze podcast at gmail dot com. And if KT chooses it, we'll answer it on this podcast. You should always listen to the podcast because you never know when we're going to answer your question. It's not like you get an email saying we're answering the question. So you always have to listen

00:34:27

Suze: because maybe we've answered it. And wouldn't that be a shame if you missed it? All right, everybody, KT take us out...

00:34:33

KT: First, I want to wish everyone a great weekend coming up. Now, we still have Sunday school and we still have July 4th early next week. But it's going to be a fire cracker of a weekend. I just know it. Yeah.

00:34:46

Suze: That's because her family's come, me and whenever her family comes, it is a serious fire

00:34:51

Suze: cracker. KT, what are you gonna do today today?

00:34:56

KT: Wherever I go, I will create a more peaceful, joyful and loving world.

00:35:02

Suze: And if everybody does that, if everybody says that if everybody thinks that I promise you, KT promises you, you will be unstoppable.

00:35:22

Music: Music (out)


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Suze Orman Blog and Podcast Episodes

Suze's Financial Strength Test

Answer Yes or No to the follow statements.

I pay all my credit card bills in full each month.

I have an eight-month emergency savings fund separate from my checking or other bank accounts.

The car I am driving was paid for with cash, or a loan that was no more than three years, and I sure didn’t lease!

I am contributing at least 10% of my gross salary to a retirement plan at work, or I am saving at least that much in an IRA and/or regular taxable account.

I have a long-term asset allocation plan for my retirement investments, and once a year I check to see if I need to do any rebalancing to stay on target with my allocation goals.

I have term life insurance to provide protection to those who are dependent on my income.

I have a will, a trust, an advance directive (living will), and have appointed someone to be my health care proxy.

I have checked all the beneficiaries of every investment account and insurance policy within the past year.

So how did you do?

If you answered yes to every item, congratulations. If you are working on improving on a few items, I say congratulations as well.

As long as you are comitted to truly creating financial security, I applaud you. If that means you are paying down your credit card balances, or are building up your emergency fun with automated payments, that’s more than fine. You are on your way!

But if you found yourself saying No to any of those questions, and you’re not working on moving to Yes, then I want you to stand in your truth. No matter how good you feel, you have some work to do before you can honestly know what you are on solid financial ground.

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