Hell, yeah, I like Suze Orman

She may be another one of those annoying cable self-help gurus. But the MSNBC economist has some smart things to say about women and their money.

Published August 4, 2008 1:44PM (EDT)

This weekend, while absent-mindedly flipping channels, I found myself sucked into a Suze Orman presentation on PBS called "Women & Money."

"Suze Orman?!" my friend asked later, incredulous, as we sat sipping pilsners at a bar. "That wacky MSNBC woman? You like her?"

I do. Not without reservations, but I do. And I'll tell you why: Suze Orman is the only feminist economy/self-help guru I know, and by God, someone's gotta fill those size 7 pumps. Orman is uniquely interested in helping women understand and gain control of their own finances. None of that "let the dude take care of it" bullshit, because that kind of complacency is what gets us into situations we cannot get out of, that is what leaves us ignorant, that is how we get blindsided (Where did these charges come from? Who knew that's where the money went?). I offer this as a woman who has indulged in a great deal of "let the dude take of it" bullshit in my day, because unlike some women I know, there are few things more boring and tedious to me than an Excel spreadsheet, than investments and compounding interest and and blah and blah and blah. But I also arrived at the age of 33, single and sucker-punched by personal debt, and I knew that, to get out of the mess I had made, I was going to have to -- somehow, some way -- snap to adulthood and get shit done.

That's where Orman comes in. I watch her show on MSNBC, a show I was aware of before but always flipped past, like Donny Deutsch or "Big Brother." And I borrowed one of her financial books, "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke", from a friend who used it to bail her ass out of credit card debt. (Actually, Orman has made me so frugal that, sad for her, I will not even buy her books, and certainly couldn't cough up the $75 PBS kept asking me to donate during its pledge drive this weekend. Sorry, PBS. Ain't got that kind of cash.)

"I just hate self-help gurus," my friend told me. Of course! Who doesn't?! Do you think I'm asking Deepak Chopra and Jim Kramer to my next dinner party? (Actually, that would be a helluva dinner party.) And there was a creepy cultish vibe to Orman's presentation, along with the annoying and occasional New Age mumbo jumbo -- "you are all goddesses of wealth," she told the audience at one point. (Sweet! Then can they pay my rent?) But also what I like about Suze Orman is that her advice isn't about compiling mountains of money while you screw a Brazilian hottie on top of a mound of $20 bills; it isn't about shopping or cars or even home aquisition. (At one point, she told a teary 29-year-old woman to sell her house, as it was sandbagging her bank account.) It's about having the life that you want. "Why do you take care of your money?" she asked at one point. "Because you want your money to take care of you."

Hey, it's a little cheesy. But I'll buy that.

By Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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