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Suze Orman Changes Her Mind

The Queen of Personal Finance or Ugly Vests, whichever you prefer, recently shocked followers when she announced on the Oprah Show that it's time for some people to finally give up on paying down nasty credit card debt and stash their cash instead. What? I'm sorry Suze, but you really blew it with this one. Paying the minimum balance on credit cards is now and always has been a poor financial decision.

Yes, it's important for us all to have an emergency fund in times of great economic uncertainty, but why should anyone rack up credit card debt at 20% or more if they have the financial means to pay it down? Orman's exact words were, "If you have an unpaid credit card balance [and] not much saved up in emergency savings, I need you to listen up. My advice has changed. I want you to only pay the minimum due on your credit card balance, and instead, make it your top priority to build as much of an emergency cash fund as you can." Suze's point is that unemployment is skyrocketing, credit card issuers are cutting limits and closing accounts, and people may soon find themselves without a job and no access to credit. I can't argue that all of these things are a concern right now, but as usual, Suze is making a sweeping recommendation that really isn't as simple as she makes it sound. Maybe it is a good idea for some people to cut back on their credit card payments if their employment is on shaky ground and they need to pad their emergency fund, but only paying the minimum balance is a mistake. Racking up more credit card debt should never be part of preparing for a financial emergency. I've never been a big fan of Suze Orman, although one can't deny she is an expert at oversimplifying financial decisions and convincing newbies that she is the Goddess of Personal Finance. The incredible success of her show, books, and seminars is certainly proof that she knows how to preach to the masses. Unfortunately, I think she's leading them astray this time. What do you think of Suze's latest advice?

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Joshua Heckathorn's picture

Joshua Heckathorn was President of Creditnet, is a credit expert and has been featured on CNNMoney, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, The Street, and many other national publications during the past ten years.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Management (Finance) from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business and earned his MBA from Seattle University.

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