Suze Orman, the woman millions of Americans have turned to for financial advice, says it’s time for a serious reconsideration of the American Dream—what promise it still holds, what aspects are in need of revision, and how it must be refashioned to fit our lives so that we can once again have faith that our hard work will pay off and that a secure and hopeful future is within our reach.
In nine electrifying chapters, Orman delivers a master class on personal finance for this pivotal moment in time. She addresses every aspect of the American Dream—home, family, career, retirement. She teaches us that in order to create lasting security we must learn to stand in our truth. We must recognize, embrace, and be honest about what is real for us today and allow that understanding to inform the choices we make. The New American Dream is not the things we accumulate, says Orman, but the confidence that comes from knowing that which we’ve worked so hard for cannot be taken away from us. In THE MONEY CLASS, Orman teaches us how to take control over our present—right here, right now—in order to build the future of our dreams.
Whether navigating the complicated mix of money and family, offering the most comprehensive retirement resource available today, or delivering a bracing dose of reality when it comes to recalibrating our expectations and our goals, Orman educates us with her signature no-nonsense approach and laser-like clarity. She empowers us to live a life of integrity and honesty that will create an enduring legacy for future generations—a New American Dream that lies in truth, security, financial freedom, and peace of mind.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Orman has written eight consecutive New York Times bestsellers and has written, co-produced, and hosted seven PBS specials based on her books. She is the seven-time Gracie Award–winning host of the Suze Orman Show, which airs on CNBC, and of the forthcoming Money Class on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. She is also a contributing editor to O: The Oprah Magazine.
Twice named one of the “Time 100,” Time magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people, and named by Forbes as one of the 100 most powerful women, Orman was the recipient of the National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign. In 2009 she received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in 2010 she received an honorary doctor of commercial science from Bentley University.
Orman, a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, directed the Suze Orman Financial Group from 1987 to 1997, served as Vice President—Investments for Prudential Bache Securities from 1983 to 1987, and was an account executive at Merrill Lynch from 1980 to 1983. Prior to that, she worked as a waitress at the Buttercup Bakery in Berkeley, California, from 1973 to 1980.
Read an Excerpt
THE NEW AMERICAN DREAM
The American Dream. As a concept, it is so ingrained in our collective imagination that it doesn’t even need to be defined, right? Think about it: Did you ever need to have it explained to you? My guess is you did not and that even from a young age, you, like me, knew it represented a promise—of opportunity, of possibility—that came with being American.
But on closer inspection, it is not just an American impulse that the American Dream describes, it is a human one, and it unites us. No matter your socioeconomic, ethnic, or religious background, we all aspire to the same things: We seek to provide for our family and keep them safe, no matter what shape that family takes, no matter if we are talking about our parents or our children, a blended family or a family “by choice,” not blood. We want future generations to have even more opportunity than we ourselves have, a dream that is intrinsically linked with education and the advancement that follows from it. We want to live in a home that is secure in every sense—as a haven for our loved ones and as a wise place to have spent our money. We want the guarantee that our hard work will pay off, that it will support us financially, that it will allow us to achieve our goals, and that when it is time to stop working, we will reap the benefits of those years of dedicated service and live out the rest of our lives comfortably in retirement.
As universal as these desires are, we refer to them as the American Dream because for centuries this country has, for the most part, been able to make good on this promise of America as the land of opportunity. This belief has played a defining role in shaping our national psyche. It is at the heart of our Declaration of Independence—that we each possess “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
How truly terrifying, then, to take stock of the American Dream today and to question the truth of it—to wonder if it still exists in reality or if it has become an illusion, a myth. Take a look around: As of October 2011, nearly 14 million Americans were out of work; another 8.9 million were working only part-time because they cannot find full-time employment. That is nearly 23 million people who are struggling to make ends meet. Many of those lucky enough to still be employed in their 60s are looking to hang on to their jobs as long as possible because they simply cannot afford to retire—which also means there are fewer job openings for young people entering the workforce.
In many areas of the country, the dream of homeownership has backfired. Real estate values have deflated to such an extent that a record number of people owe more than their homes are worth. That’s not an American Dream—it’s a nightmare.
Because of the dire economic conditions of recent years, many parents are unable to afford the high cost of college tuition for their children. And there is a record number of student loans in default, making people question whether they ever should have taken them on to begin with.
The sum total of all these facts and figures? The home, the job security, the education, the retirement—the very standard of living that all of us took for granted for so long is completely under siege.
Whether we speak about it or not, we are grappling with the frightening possibility, the fear, that we no longer live in a land where effort applied to opportunity produces a better life. The doors leading to more and greater things, once wide open, now seem to be closing. It is hard to move up in an economy where there has been no job or wage growth over the past decade. Once a manufacturing powerhouse—“Made in the U.S.A.” was our calling card—we have ceded that engine of growth, and the jobs that go with it, to other countries as our own economy now relies on our ability to consume, not produce.
The impact of these economic shifts has been felt deeply within our homes. While the median household income for adults born in the 1960s is indeed higher than the income of their parents’ generation, much of that is a function of smaller household size and the fact that there are now likely two wage earners per household. It takes more of us working more to maintain our forward progress. Even so, the pace of our growth has slowed considerably. According to a study commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts, family income doubled in the postwar years, between 1947 and 1973, but in the three decades since then the increase has been a mere 20%. That statistic provides important context to why household debt relative to income more than doubled over the same period: For many, borrowing was a way to keep up with our parents and grandparents. To put it in more emotional terms, it is why so many of us wonder how our parents and grandparents seemed able to enjoy a higher standard of living even though their means were so much less than ours.
The meritocracy that underpins our economy and culture—work hard, move up the ladder—has also been weakening, as the distribution of income has become increasingly uneven. In the 1950s and 1960s, our national economic growth trickled down across a broad spectrum of income levels. Since the 1970s it has been more fractured, with much of the economic gains benefiting upper-income households. This concentration of wealth leaves the middle class, the heart and soul of this country, struggling just to hang on.
The epic financial crisis—and there really is no other way to describe it—that began in 2008 may have delivered a decisive blow to the stubborn optimism that we held on to in spite of the on-the-ground reality of how our financial lives have been marked by increasing struggle. For many, the crisis was a rude awakening; for others, it was a grim confirmation of the creeping anxiety we’ve been feeling about how we are going to make it all work. Either way, it is hard to find a family that was untouched by this financial disaster. It was a galvanizing moment for us as a nation—it has forced us to reckon with our beliefs in our country and our individual ideals.
Is it time, then, to pronounce the American Dream dead?
In many ways it pains me to say this, but in my opinion the American Dream as we knew it is dead.
But listen to me: That is not such a bad thing. The old American Dream has been in need of revision for quite some time; we have just been very good at avoiding that truth. It’s time to take that dream back into our hands and reshape it. It’s time to create a New American Dream that is based in honesty, authenticity, good intentions, and genuine need.
What is important to understand is that the American Dream is not something to put your faith in, to pray for, to embrace blindly, and hope that everything turns out okay—despite its long, dependable run. Rather, it is a concept, a loose set of goals that beg for individualization. The American Dream was never one-size-fits-all. The New American Dream asks you to fashion a dream that suits you—not one based on false premises and the expectations of others. It asks you to take measure of your own needs and understand what it will take to provide for yourself and those around you—your family, your community, and those less fortunate.
The truth is, we are on the threshold of an important moment. We can come together, right here, right now, and each one of us can envision our own New American Dream—a dream that is rooted in reality, not superficiality; in truth and integrity, not illusion and falsehood.
I am a great believer in the power of perspective. Often when we find ourselves in a difficult situation we come to believe we have no options. We convince ourselves there is no way out. Despair and frustration take root and convince us that things are more desperate than they may actually be. When I’ve found myself in those situations in my own life, I have learned that a change in perspective can change everything. What seemed insurmountable can be overcome. Not without difficulty, but through ingenuity and dedication. We can make a difference when we think differently. If you have any doubt about the truth of that statement, think of any significant achievement throughout American history, from our founding as a nation built on those inalienable rights and freedoms, to the civil rights movement.
What we need first and foremost then, to erase the feelings of hopelessness and to ease our fears, is a change in perspective. Let us recognize what the American Dream no longer is, in order to give birth to a New American Dream.
We must abandon any vestige of the old dream that suggested it was delivered on a silver platter as a matter of national birthright, and that our economy would forever be the rising tide that lifts all boats. The dream I am asking you to create—this New American Dream—is a very individualistic pursuit. It calls upon you to take stock of the challenges we face as a nation with an economy that is still struggling to recover from the effects of a crippling recession. And then it calls upon you to take stock of your own life, your own needs, your own security. We must transform ourselves from dreaming society’s dreams and putting our faith in a false and misleading sense of entitlement, to being a society where each of us strives for dreams that are personal and realistic and that are in the best interests—in the truest and most honest sense—of us and our family. I am calling upon each of us to rethink the very way we dream.
Table of Contents
How to Enter The Classroom xv
Class 1 The New American Dream 3
The Dreams of Tomorrow Reside in Today's Choices
The Money Class Curriculum
Class 2 Stand In Your Truth 11
Lesson 1 Finding Your Truth: A Personal Financial Accounting 13
Lesson 2 Living Truthfully: How To Stand Tall In Your Reality 15
Focus on What Is Real Today... and What You Will Need Tomorrow
Live Below Your Means but Within Your Needs
The Pleasure of Saving Is Equal to the Pleasure of Spending
Define Yourself by Who You Are, Not What You Have
Lesson 3 The Foundation Of All Truthful Living: The Power Of Cash 21
Debit Card Rules
The "Life Happens" Fund
Credit Unions: A Great Place to Save
Safety First with Your Savings
Saving for Big-Ticket Items
The Truth Will Indeed Set You Free
Class 3 Family 28
Lesson 1 How to Build Honest Family Relations 31
Opening the Lines of Communication
Lesson 2 How To Raise Young Children To Stand In The Truth 34
Your Priceless Legacy
Set the Right Tone
Imparting Good Values When It Comes to Money
Money Lessons for Children
Money Lessons for Tweens and Teens
Money Lessons for Teenagers Heading to College
How to Handle Money Gifts and Savings
The Three-Option Approach
Lesson 3 How To Create a Financially Honest College Strategy 48
Who Should Save for College
The Best Way to Save for College: 529 Plans
How to Invest Your 529 Plan
The College Talk Every Parent Must Have with a High School Freshman
Borrowing Rules for College Loans
The Risks of Private Loans for College
How to Choose the Right School
Lesson 4 How To Help Adult Children Facing Financial Challenges 64
How to Handle Student Loans That Are in Default
How and When to Help Independent Children Who Are in Financial Trouble
Lesson 5 The Conversation Every Adult Child Should Have With His Or Her Parents 69
Building Family Financial Security Under One Roof
Updating Legal Documents
When a Parent Remarries
Lesson 6 Advice For Grandparents: How to Build a Lasting Legacy 73
Follow the Parents' Lead
Pay It Forward
Give Experiences, Not Things
Class 4 Home 77
Lesson 1 The Truth About Home Values 81
A Decade of Extremes
A Home Is a Savings Account, Not a Hot Stock
Financing Is Cheap, but Not Easy
Lesson 2 When It Makes Sense To Rent 84
The Math of Rent vs. Buy
Advice for Owners Who Now Want to Rent
Lesson 3 The New Rules Of Buying a Home 87
Set a Budget That Satisfies Your Needs
Know Your Income Limits
Aim to Make a 20% Down Payment
A Special Note About FHA-Insured Loans
Special Rules for Buying Condos and Co-ops
Where to Come Up with the Down Payment
Opt for a 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage
Understand the Risk of Distressed Property
Lesson 4 What To Do If You Are Underwater 98
If You Are Underwater and Cannot Afford Your Mortgage
If You Are Underwater but You Can Afford the Mortgage
Lesson 5 How To Reduce Mortgage Costs 110
When It Makes Sense to Pay Off a Loan Ahead of Schedule
The New Realities of Refinancing
Lower Your Mortgage Costs Without a Refinance
Lesson 6 The Dangers Of Home Equity Lines Of Credit 114
The Dangers of Rising Interest Rates and Falling Behind on Payments
Home Equity Loans
Lesson 7 Reverse Mortgages 116
Reverse Mortgage Basics
Lesson 8 Investing In Real Estate 119
What You Need to Know Before You Buy Investment Property
What to Do with an Investment Property That Is Underwater
Class 5 Career 122
Lesson 1 Advice For The Employed 125
Build Your Plan-for-the-Worst Fund
Live Below Today's Means
Grab Your Full Retirement Bonus
Make Your Case for a Raise and Promotion Through Your Work
How to Ask for a Raise
Change Your Attitude Before You Change Your Job
Lesson 2 Advice For The Unemployed 133
Cut Your Spending Immediately
Do Not Dip into Your Retirement Savings
Make Sure Your Credit Profile Remains Strong
Do Not Go Back to School to Avoid a Hard Job Market
Get to Work as Fast as Possible, Rather Than Holding Out for a Better Offer
How to Deal with a Steep Pay Cut
A Special Note for Stay-at-Home Moms
Lesson 3 Starting (And Running) Your Own Business 139
Launching a Business: Can You Afford It?
Where to Get the Money to Start Your Business
A Few Words About Micro Lending
Running Your Own Business
When to Expand
When to Close
Standing in Your Truth in Business
Closing Down a Business Responsibly
A Note About the Retirement Classes 153
The Money Navigator: A Special Offer for Readers of The Money Class 154
Class 6 Retirement Planning: Getting Going In Your 20S And 30S 155
Lesson 1 Time Is Your Greatest Asset 159
Getting Started Early
With Lower Returns, Savings Are More Important Than Ever
Lesson 2 Retirement Accounts Explained 161
Retirement Plans Offered by Employers
Retirement Plan Withdrawal Rules
Non-Workplace Retirement Accounts
Retirement Plans for the Self-Employed
Lesson 3 How Much You Need To Save For Retirement 166
The Retirement Formula
The Best 401(k) and IRA Strategy
A Word on Vesting
Where to Open an IRA Account
Lesson 4 Investing Your Retirement Money 173
The Ups and Downs of the Stock Market
Dollar Cost Averaging
How Much to Invest in Stocks
Choosing the Best Options Within Your 401(k)
How to Build the Best 401(k) Investment Portfolio
Exchange Traded Funds
Retirement Planning Mistakes to Avoid
What to Do with Your 401(k) When You Leave a Job
Class 7 Retirement Planning: Fine-Tuning It In Your 40S And 50S 190
Lesson 1 Deciding When It Makes Sense To Pay Off Your Mortgage 194
Questions to Ask Yourself
The Benefits of Paying Off Your Mortgage
How to Pay Off Your Mortgage Ahead of Schedule
Lesson 2 Have A Realistic Plan For Working Until Age 66-67 203
Your Work-Longer Game Plan
Lesson 3 Delay Your Social Security Benefit 207
Social Security Basics
Social Security Strategies
Lesson 4 Estimate Your Retirement Income: How Are You Doing? 214
Social Security Benefits
Lump Sum vs. Annuity
Lesson 5 Saving More, And Investing Strategies In Your 50S 223
How to Invest Smart
Making the Most of What You Have
Best Investments Outside Your 401(k)
No Target Funds Allowed
Lesson 6 Plan For Long-Term Care Costs 234
When to Buy
Making the Financial Case for LTC Insurance
Health Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid
Class 8 Living In Retirement 248
Lesson 1 Home Finances: Stand In The Truth Of What Is Affordable For You 251
The Affordability Issue
Start the Discussion
Lesson 2 Coping With The High Cost Of Healthcare In Retirement 253
Rising Costs vs. Your Annual Retirement Income
Long-Term Care Premium Increases
Lesson 3 Stick To a Sustainable Withdrawal Rate 255
The Right Rate
How to Make Tax-Smart Withdrawals
Lesson 4 Avoid Long-Term Bonds And Bond Funds 259
What You Must Understand About Bonds
How to Build a Bond Ladder
Beyond Treasury Bonds: Municipal Bonds and Corporate Bonds
Lesson 5 Earn Higher Yields by Investing In Dividend-Paying ETFS And Stocks 264
The Case for Dividend-Paying ETFs and Stocks
Stock Dividend Basics
The Protection of a Stop-Loss Order
How Much to Invest
How to Choose a Dividend-Focused ETF
Tips for Owning Individual Dividend-Paying Stocks
Lesson 6 Double-Check Your Beneficiaries And Must-Have Documents 275
Class 9 The Ultimate Lesson 277
Clearing My Own Roadblocks
The Road Ahead, Not the Rearview Mirror
The Legacy We Create
What People are Saying About This
“Suze teaches readers how to transform their thinking and reimagine the American dream.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Suze offers a great foundation for the young and an excellent path for those of us near retirement and everything in between. Our economy has changed and we have to change our finances accordingly. Her advice on college loans is outstanding. There's something in this book for us all, but if you are a young adult, this book will help you prevent making major mistakes that could effect you for the rest of your life. This book also shows those of us who are not starting out how to change our plan for the economy today and help us to help our children. Suze has been great for years, but this is the best book so far.
I understand that Suze Orman said that what she told people to do ten years ago is wrong; however, if you paid attention you would see the reason why is the DOWN FALL in the ECONOMY we live in now. Ten years ago Suze Orman gave solid advice to match what was happening in the economy. No one expected that the banks and investors were doing things that were not sound; thus the CHANGE in advice to help those become financially stable in the CURRENT economy.
I have always liked Suze Orman but she is too funny. She keeps writing the same old stuff but changing the book cover to make it appear that she's doing something new. I guess she'll keep getting rich with her fabulous marketing skills.
I really like Suze Orman. I appreciate her ability to relate with the masses with her style of teaching. Any person can read and understand the lessons taught by Suze. Another book that I absolutely love is Generational Wealth: Business & Investing Guide to Building an Empire. That's probably the best book that I've read in the last five years or so.
Suze is great. This is a book that will deliver on the promise for your American dream. She did it and so can we. I also recommend Optimal Thinking: How to Be Your Best Self to develop the mindset to consistently optimize choices in our personal life and career. Read both books!
We have made our own messes and cant blame anyone but ourselves. I feel like she offers a lot of great advice and we should all consider taking a step back and changing our ways. Good book.
My partner and I were surprised with this book. This author successfully conveyed effective principles with ease. I'd definitely recommend this!
Because the revised edition (2012) has the same name as the old edition. The ereader digital software does not recognize the difference between the old and new book and therefore, will not allow the purchase of the new revised book, unless the old book is deleted.
Her first couple of books were useful but essentially there is nothing new here. It's as if she continually re-writes the same stuff over and over in different prose. Come on Suze!!!
For those of you who have had problems with finances in the past, or just questions regarding how to get your finances back in line, this is a great read. Suze is a brilliant woman who really knows her stuff. As a finance professional, I highly recommend this read to anyone.
I have learned so much by this book and all of her books and I just love them. She has helped me so much financially also.
She has alot of good ideas that can help in the economy we are now in
I am in the process of reading this books. My opinion on the book so far is that i am learning things i did not know before. I am in my late twenties and i am now looking into getting on track with my finances in my life. The Money Class book explains things from saving for college to teaching your kids lessons on saving for their future. I like it personal.
Suze knows what she is talking about and that is why I got this book. I have already put some of this information into my daily life. This is good for all people, if they are willing to be honest with themselves financially.