Why Suze Orman Is on a Mission to Help Americans Build Emergency Savings

Financial expert Suze Orman is a wealthy woman. She’ll freely admit to that.

But that wasn’t always the case. There was a time when Orman was so cash-strapped that she resorted to living in her car because she couldn’t handle the cost of housing. And while she’s clearly come a long way since those days, she also hasn’t forgotten about them.

It’s for this reason that Orman is so motivated to help Americans build emergency savings. To this end, she co-founded SecureSave, a company that partners with employers to help workers build emergency funds.

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I recently spoke with Orman about her mission to boost Americans’ savings. In a nutshell, I pressed to know why, in her 70s, she’s still working to help people build emergency funds when she could instead kick off a very nice retirement.

But according to Orman, helping people build savings is her passion. And that’s not something she’s looking to give up.

A cause Orman believes in

A recent SecureSave survey found that 63% of U.S. workers do not have enough cash reserves to cover a $500 emergency expense. And it’s statistics like that which keep Orman from retiring, and instead working her hardest to boost savings rates among workers today.

“What I do, because it gives me meaning, it defines my life,” said Orman in late August. And because she knows that building savings will transform so many people’s lives, she’s doing her part to get more companies to help facilitate that process for their employees.

SecureSave allows employers to set up emergency savings accounts for workers that they can opt into easily. Employers can also contribute toward workers’ emergency savings to make it easier for employees to grow some cash reserves.

SecureSave found that U.S. companies collectively lose $4.7 billion per week in productivity because of workers’ financial stress. So eliminating some of that stress by helping workers build savings is essential.

It’s so important to have savings

When we talked about her quest to help Americans build savings, Orman alluded to other financial greats like Warren Buffett who are still plugging away rather than retiring.

“We work because what we do gives us meaning,” she said. Thanks to her team’s efforts, Orman is convinced that a lot of people’s financial lives will improve and their stress levels will recede. That’s important.

Imagine you have no savings to fall back on and you’re suddenly hit with a home or car repair you have to cover. You may have no choice but to charge that expense on your credit card and pay it off when you can, all the while racking up costly interest.

But that’s a stressful situation to land in. And it’s not like you can predict when your car’s going to give you trouble or when an issue is going to arise with your home.

Having emergency savings could give you peace of mind and help you avoid actively worrying about money all the time. So it pays to talk to your employer about getting help in building an emergency fund.

Of course, many people have to go it alone on the emergency fund front. If that’s the case, you should know that automation is often the key to successful savings.

If your employer doesn’t offer an emergency savings account, set up an automatic transfer so that money moves out of your checking account each month and into your savings. It can be $10, $20, or whatever you can swing. The key is to start somewhere.

Meanwhile, Orman intends to keep doing her part to help more Americans improve their finances. “Some people, for the first time in their life, will have some money in the bank,” she said. And that alone makes her hard work worthwhile.

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