Friday, January 8, 2010

Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan

Last year I read a spirited defense of personal finance guru, Suze Orman, by Felix Salmon. I knew little about her so when I saw one of her books, "Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan", in the library a few days ago I checked it out.

I have now read it. It consists of simple conservative (in the cautious sense) conventional wisdom about personal finance. Don't live above your means, pay off your credit cards, save for retirement, that sort of thing. There wasn't anything in it that I found of much interest as similar advice can be found in many other places. Of course I am not her target audience but I expect even many financially unsophisticated people have encountered similar advice. Perhaps she is better at getting people to actually follow the advice. And she does give some specific advice about college loans and good resources for people in financial trouble.

Still the advice is pretty elementary and I can sort of understand the jealous resentment of her critics that it has earned her tens of millions of dollars. And there were a couple of things I found jarring. On page 3-4 she promises "... I will never steer you wrong or put your dreams of a secure future in peril. ... ". I don't think this is a promise it is possible to honestly make. And on page 12, while discussing the origins of the recent crisis, she renders CDO as "Credit Default Obligation" when in fact it stands for Collateralized Debt Obligation . This did not exactly enhance my faith in her financial knowledge (or the fact checking process for the book). On the other hand I agree with Salmon that her advice (at least in this book) is generally sound and that people can do a lot worse.

So in summary this is basically personal finance for dummies. If you aren't a dummy about personal finance this book probably won't be of much interest.


  1. I agree with you 100%, there is a lot of basic common sense advice in her books. There is however very little about the downside of making all your investments in the stock market (or 401K). In my simple opinion Robert Kiyosaki provides better advice in his "Rich Dad" book series.

  2. Rich Dad....will check that one out.
    Suzy Orman is like Martha Stewart in that she has panache and can present simple concepts in an interesting way, so people will listen to her advice. Good for her....perhaps she can make the spendthrifts of the world clean up their acts.