In a 2018 episode of the Afford Anything Podcast, Suze Orman, a best-selling author and famed financial adviser, made her disdain for the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement clear.

The promise of exiting the workforce years, if not decades, before the traditional retirement age, is appealing. This approach emphasizes aggressive savings and investment strategies to achieve financial freedom early in life, allowing individuals to enjoy their prime years without the constraints of a 9-to-5 job.

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Orman’s apprehension about the optimism of the FIRE advocates comes from her extensive experience in financial planning and risk assessment. She maintains that life’s unpredictability, alongside possible dramatic changes in the economy and society, renders the pursuit of early retirement precarious unless backed by substantial finances.

Direct and unreserved, Orman said, “I hate it. Really, I hate it,” pointing to the FIRE movement. Her principal concern lies with the underestimation of capital needed to ensure a sustainable and enjoyable life post-retirement, especially considering health emergencies, accidents or market downturns. Orman asked a pointed question to those considering early retirement: “If you don’t have a significant amount of money…if a catastrophe happens, if something goes wrong, what are you going to do?” Her query should prompt potential retirees to contemplate the absence of the safety net that ongoing employment income provides.

Orman outlined the extent of funds she deems essential for true financial freedom in retirement, suggesting numbers that dwarf the sums many associate with financial sufficiency. She said, “If you have 20, 30, 50 or 100 million dollars…be like me, okay.” Her wealth enables her a lifestyle she believes is crucial to face the uncertain future without monetary stress.

Addressing the FIRE movement’s perceived undercalculation of retirement living costs, Orman stated, “Two million is nothing. It’s nothing. It’s pennies in today’s world, to tell you the truth.” She warned about factors including market fluctuations, possible reduced dividends, increasing living expenses and rising healthcare costs, all of which could swiftly diminish what might appear to be an ample retirement nest egg.

Orman also pointed to broader economic and social trends that could exacerbate financial insecurity for those pursuing early retirement. She highlighted the looming threat of artificial intelligence and automation leading to significant unemployment and the consequent strain on social security and tax systems. “Do not be surprised if by the year 2030, there is a 25% unemployment rate,” Orman said, suggesting that such developments could lead to higher taxes and reduced social safety nets, further challenging the sustainability of early retirement.

Orman draws upon narratives of financial despair to illustrate the repercussions of inadequate financial readiness for life’s unforeseen events.  People don’t tend to think about that when they’re young. Anything could go wrong and she stresses people to consider this before they ditch their jobs for an early retirement. She stated, “If something goes wrong, what are you going to do? You are going to burn up alive because you won’t have the money.”

She argues the necessity of leveraging compounding interest and continuous investments during the peak earning years rather than succumbing to the allure of premature retirement. Orman said, “The biggest mistake you’re making is time. These are your compounding years, and you should be putting every penny you have into investments,” advocating for prudent, long-term financial strategies.

Exploring additional avenues to supplement returns and achieve early retirement is worth consideration for those less inclined to adhere strictly to her advice. Modern strategies like investment diversification, passive income streams and side hustles can bolster savings, potentially providing a more accessible path to early retirement.

Approaching financial planning with a full understanding of the varied circumstances and risks of life is critical. Consulting a financial adviser can provide insights and help individuals chart a path suitable for their unique goals and risk tolerance.

Orman’s perspective on FIRE provides sobering food for thought on the intricacies of retirement planning. It emphasizes the need for financial agility, thorough preparation and readiness for the wide array of life’s potential challenges. Her advice underscores the lasting value of adaptability and foresight in navigating the road to financial independence and retirement.

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*This information is not financial advice, and personalized guidance from a financial adviser is recommended for making well-informed decisions.

Jeannine Mancini has written about personal finance and investment for the past 13 years in a variety of publications including Zacks, The Nest and eHow. She is not a licensed financial adviser, and the content herein is for information purposes only and is not, and does not constitute or intend to constitute, investment advice or any investment service. While Mancini believes the information contained herein is reliable and derived from reliable sources, there is no representation, warranty or undertaking, stated or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information.

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This article ‘You Are Going To Burn Up Alive’ — Suze Orman Hates The FIRE Movement And Says You Need At Least $20 Million To Retire Early: ‘Two Million Is Nothing. It’s Pennies In Today’s World’ originally appeared on

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