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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Is Suze Orman's Advice Too Basic?

First let me say I believe Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman have brought more people to consider their personal finances than most other financial writers. Orman has additionally brought more women into thinking more about their finances and take control of their financial futures. However, every time I see her (which, to be fair is not that much) something troubles me.

Her advise is often very simplistic.

I watched the show awhile ago and there was a segment on the show called "Can I afford It?" No offence to the people that called in, but it was like a bad SNL skit.

  • Caller: Suze...Can I afford a Plasma TV?
  • Suze: Tell me, do you have any cash on hand for Emergencies?
  • Caller: No...
  • Suze: Any Retirement savings
  • Caller: Yeah I have $2500 in my 401K
  • Suze: How old are you?
  • Caller: 50
  • Suze: I wouldn't...get some bonds right away...

That was totally made up but it isn't that far off the calls received. It isn't her problem who calls in, but the way real radio or TV works is that they feed the callers and queue them...some someone tosses her some real softballs...at least when I watched.

Her tips that I have read out on the web were pretty pedestrian as well.

  • Don't Eat Lunch out
  • Search your closet for lost money
  • Use Self-Serve pumps at gas stations

They might as well also include:

  • Don't put your money in a pile and burn it
  • Don't eat dirt
  • Don't try All of the get rich quick schemes...its not fair to others that want to get rich too...

Love to hear you opinion, am I being too hard on her based on the few shows I have seen? Is one of her books a must read? Let us all know!

Nothing wrong with simple, just simplistic! It really comes down to this: If you want to create wealth first you need to spend less than you make. Period. Then topics like Budget, Emergency Fund, 401K, debt management and investing should be reviewed in depth.


Sharon said...

Actually, Suze would have said "YOU ARE DENIED, DENIED, DENIED!" I love watching her show.

RacerX said...

See is very entertaining, but do you learn anything from the show? True question as I haven't watched enough to know.

Mrs. Micah said...

Sometimes I think that there are a lot of people who just need the basic advice. Dave Ramsey is pretty basic too---pay off debt. Now. But it seems like a lot of people need to hear that.

I've never found her particularly valuable but I also haven't found her ridiculously simplistic.

RacerX said...

I agree simple advice is 100% best for most. I have put out some pretty simple advice too.

I guess I just hear more about how Ramseys Steps have been more effective for most. Love o hear the other side of the argument!

Anonymous said...

I think maybe her goal is to appeal to the people that aren't all that interested in personal finance. The people that sort of stick their head in the sand and deny-deny-deny... until their financial house of cards comes tumbling down. I think it's hard for all the "track monthly expenditures on quicken, invest 20-40% in retirement accounts, etc." people to understand a lot of people just don't get it. They just live in the moment and don't think about tomorrow. I think Suze is a very good source for beginners in the personal finance knowledge quest. After they catch the fever - then it's time to move on to other financial gurus. I think she's good at what she does - nothing more, nothing less!

RacerX said...

Nothing wrong with building good cribs :)

Sharon said...

Actually, I learn something everytime I watch the show. For instance, last night she explained mutual funds for retirement accounts and which ones are good and why. And I enjoy watching her deny people when they think they can afford something. My husband used to hate her show, but now he watches with interest, as there is always something to learn!

Master Your Card said...

There are some people who know nothing about financial management and so I assume that is who her show is aimed at.

RacerX said...

@Sharon - Good to hear. Probably have just seen weaker episodes!

@Master - I agree with your point. If she can pull more people into dealing with their finances, great!

Thank you both for visiting and commenting!

"Future Millionaire" said...

I must confess I'm a Suze fan, a Saturday night doesn't go by that my DVR doesn't record her and I watch it on Sunday.

I probably don't learn a lot from watching the shows, I admit its pretty basic, but beyond its entertainment value it helps to reaffirm that I'm doing the right thing. I think the reaffirming is what's very important, just like when you're dieting (or life style changing) or what ever goal you have you have to reinforce the beliefs and remind yourself the reasons.

While I don't take sick perversion in gloating that I'm better than the people who call in for can I afford it segment, it does give me some comfort and reassurance that when I'm that age I'll be able to afford that TV or that cruise or whatever because I was diligent with my savings.

RacerX said...

@Future Milionaire - Perfect! Great way to think about all of these is that they are good cautionary tales!

Thanks for visiting!

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