Stick to What You Know, Suze

I don’t own a television – I never have. And, frankly, I cannot imagine any scenario under which I would want one. This fact is material to what I say next:

Suze Orman needs to butt out of discussions on topics she clearly does not know well.

In order here is a bit of background leading up to this admittedly snarky statement.

This past week I attended an event where a woman said to me, “I don’t really know much about reverse mortgages, but Suze Orman doesn’t like them – so that’s enough for me.” I mentioned I didn’t know who Suze Orman was, and the woman, clearly shocked, answered, “Suze Orman? She’s on TV. She’s America’s financial guru.”

STRIKE THREE, Suze. You’re out, girlfriend.

Strike one is this: for one television personality to impose her opinion upon her entire viewing audience displays presumptuousness beyond measure. Where does she get off saying the 6,000,000 million Americans over the age of 62 have the same needs, and can be told, out of hand, a reverse mortgage should be a last resort? This is particularly audacious in light of the many scholarly pieces published within the past three years showing so-called “reserve reverse” mortgages – those established early and used to augment other savings – greatly increase odds of financial survival in retirement. She’s out of date, off base, and apparently not well read.

Strike two: in her online transcript Orman says, “I would much rather you base your retirement on other income sources—your savings, Social Security, and a pension.” I would love to meet the person who says, “By golly, I would never have thought of that. Use my Social Security, pension, and savings to cover my living expenses? Thank God for Suze Orman, or I would have missed that altogether.”

To this point I say this: one of the worst things I see in the course of my job is the person doing what I call a “rescue reverse” – the person who has drained all other financial buckets, and is now turning to a reverse mortgage as a last resort. Many times, indeed, perhaps most times, had this person done a reverse mortgage when he still had other monies available, he would not be left wondering if his money would last. This is not hypothetical: the studies have been done, and these by major universities and retirement research institutes.

And…strike three? “America’s financial guru.” America’s financial guru? There are 360,000,000 Americans. That’s a lot of people for one “guru.” I’m surprised Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke, Harold Evensky, Robert Shiller, or any of the other 54 Americans to win the Nobel Prize in economics didn’t make the list.  And anyway, who says she’s America’s financial guru? It’s like saying Sandra Bullock is America’s sweetheart. Thank you, but I reserve the right to pick my own sweetheart – and my own financial advisor.

No one is going to get by on just their Social Security. No one is going to make it on their 401-K. Few are going to survive on their pension, their annuity, their IRA, their bank account – or their reverse mortgage. But when added together, all these combine to create a long-term means of maintaining dignity and independence in retirement.

If you would like to explore how an FHA reverse mortgage might help with your retirement plans, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.


Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS 506562] is a freelance writer and Reverse Mortgage Consultant at Middleburg Mortgage. She can be reached at: 703-477-1183 or

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