Orman dispenses the tried and true

Advice: Suze Orman will speak Tuesday evening at the Meyerhoff as part of a lecture series sponsored by The Sun.

Your Money

March 28, 2004|By Tracy Swartz | Tracy Swartz,SUN STAFF

The best advice money expert Suze Orman ever got: "Don't talk yourself into trusting anyone."

When Orman was a Berkeley, Calif., waitress nearly 25 years ago, she received $50,000 to open her own restaurant. She hired a financial adviser to help her with the money, but within four months, all the money was gone.

Figuring she knew more about money than so-called financial pros, Orman applied for a job at Merrill Lynch and was hired as a stockbroker trainee in 1980.

Now Orman is the author of six best-selling financial books, host of her own CNBC-TV show, and a frequent guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live.

She travels the country offering financial advice and will stop in Baltimore on Tuesday as part of a women's lecture series sponsored by The Sun. The event will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St.

"You should consider this your financial lifeline," Orman, 52, said last week from her home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "If you have to wonder whether to trust me, don't trust me."

Orman doesn't have a speech set for her Baltimore visit, but she plans to survey audience members before the lecture and ask what topics she should cover. She said she likely will talk about stock market trends, real estate, retirement planning, paying for college and "every possible thing that could ever have to do with your money."

People in the financial community applaud Orman's style, but some claim she's profiting from advice that is common sense. Other critics have labeled Orman's lessons as New Age bunk, saying she focuses too much on tying spirituality to money. Orman's first law of money - truth creates money, lies destroy it.

But Orman said she is different from most other financial advisers because she isn't giving sales-oriented pitches or building clientele through her seminars. Instead, her goal is "for you to make sure you are getting the absolute best financial advice that one has to offer with no hooks attached."

"You got to stop being ripped off, people," Orman said.

"There's a lot of good points in her message," said Michael A. Braun, a financial planner with PSA Financial Center Inc. in Lutherville. "Suze's doing a great service to those people who have sort of sheltered themselves from the harsh realities of the markets."

Orman said fear, shame and anger are the three internal obstacles to wealth. She said learning to trust herself was her greatest challenge.

Author of The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, Orman said the most important move is to get out of credit card debt. This debt hurts credit scores, she said, and may prevent someone from buying or renting a home or getting a cell phone.

She also supports setting up an emergency fund and paying off a mortgage early.

Charles A. Trzcinka, finance professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, said Orman is on target in telling people to lead a disciplined financial life, take care with money and stay out of debt.

"Most of the people giving financial advice, their books should be used as doorstops. The get-rich quick guys," Trzcinka said. "Suze Orman is not that way."

But Trzcinka also said that much of Orman's advice is what other financial experts have been saying for more than 200 years - for free. Copies of Orman's paperback edition of The Laws of Money, to be released this week, cost $13.95 each.

"She's repeating Ben Franklin's advice and that stuff's available for free," Trzcinka said.

Suze Orman

What she does: Personal finance expert

Upcoming: Lecturing on "The Laws of Money, the Lessons of Life" as part of a five-speaker series sponsored by The Sun.

When: Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St.

Tickets for Orman's seminar and the other three lectures start at $42. For tickets, more information: call 410-783-8000 or visit www.baltimoresun.com/events

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