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Don’t spend on what you want — invest it instead

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She was persistent in her message: ‘Is it a need or is it a want'? She regaled the audience with a story about only ever owning one pair of earrings — she did not need (or want) any more.

US personal finance guru Suze Orman also consistently hammered home the message of getting rid of debt and looking after ‘Number One'.

“We spend our lives as financial fakers. We all have debt of some kind. But debt is bondage and you will never have freedom if you have debt. Debt will eventually catch up with you,” she said. “You should get out of your credit card debt,” she said when giving a talk in Bermuda last May.

“If you spend money on needs, not just wants, you will have money left over to save for retirement. You are spending less and saving more, that is the key to your financial future,” Ms Orman was quoted as saying.

In Bermuda we have to make contributions to our pensions, but what Suze Orman was saying is that those are not enough. She implored people, once they were free of debt, to start investing in a pension early and wherever possible to top up the amount with additional voluntary contributions (AVCs).

A pension will pay a certain percentage every month as income, but AVCs can be withdrawn as a lump sum if wanted, which may well suit some people when they retire. They are not supplemented by an employer and are a way of saving more towards your pension scheme.

AVCs also offer flexibility as you can increase or decrease contributions as you see fit.

Whether you choose AVCs or not, the basic message from Suze Orman was not to neglect your future and to avoid being saddled with debt. Getting rid of debt – and defining your life by needs not wants – allows you to concentrate on yourself and your future.

Marie Jo Caesar is chief operating officer for pensions at Colonial Group International.

Colonial's Marie Jo Caesar
Suze Orman

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Published June 24, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated June 23, 2014 at 9:10 pm)

Don’t spend on what you want — invest it instead

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