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Women in Finance (books) Week: Suze Orman

Recently I've been reading finance books by and for women. I've been doing this for a few reasons:

1. I honestly enjoy business books, which is weird, because I have no business sense or skills whatsoever.
2. I've been looking for anything that can explain to me how people actually make money in the stock market. I just don't get it.
3. I am a woman.

The first thing you learn about finance books for women is that they must have pink or purple covers. (More on this later in the week.) The second thing you learn is that there are a lot of them. One of the best-known authors in this field is Suze Orman.*

Suze Orman is one of those people who, if I'm flipping through channels and find her on PBS or a news program, I can't look away. I think that's largely because she is a spectacular public speaker. (I'm interested in public speaking and how best to do it as well.) She's always immaculately dressed and made up. She uses her hands emphatically while she talks, and when she moves across the stage, she moves deliberately. She makes good eye contact, varies her pitch and tone, and when she answers questions from audience members, you can tell they feel like they're the only person in the room with her, just having a conversation. It's always a performance. But I digress. I also enjoy watching Orman because, although I don't usually learn anything new from her, most of what she says makes sense to me.

Her new book is titled The Money Class: Learn to Create Your New American Dream, which is a genius title, when you think about it. The "new American dream," of course, has more to do with making do with less, etc., although Orman spins this with a genius tagline: "live below your means but within your needs." This one is for investors at a very basic stage in their lives**: those who are trying to use their credit cards less and still need to figure out how to have an emergency fund and save up for big purchases. For better or worse, I'm beyond that stage. (Well, not really in that I have any money, but I do know I have to pay off my credit card balance every month, and have known that since I got a credit card all those millennia ago.)

But I will still read her chapters on 529s and saving for college, because she does have a knack for making things pretty understandable. I'll peruse her chapters on retirement planning. But for the most part her books are for people just starting to think about their finances; her chapters here include tips for renting vs. owning your home, how to talk about finances with your kids, and how to start retirement planning and saving.

The bottom line: I get a kick out of ol' Suze (Mr. CR and I like to look at our pay stubs and crack "live below your means, but within your needs" to each other, and then laugh, bitterly), but she's not really offering a lot of high-level investing tips.

*And thankfully most of Suze's books do NOT have pink or purple covers.

**The first subheading in her "Advice for the Unemployed" chapter is "Cut your spending immediately." Really? Do people really need to be told this?