5. Don’t cross me
In 2012, Orman started her own prepaid debit card. It lasted a couple of years, then was taken off the market.
To most personal finance pros, prepaid cards are controversial, primarily because of the fees they charge. Thus, the idea of a personal finance expert following in the footsteps of celebrity prepaid card creators could seem questionable.
One of several folks questioning Orman’s card was personal finance writer Philip Taylor, a CPA and someone I personally know. From his review:
“Russell Simmons has a card. It’s bad. The Kardashians created a ‘kard’ in this market. It was bad too. So bad, that it was run out of town. Who’s up for another celebrity-branded prepaid card? This time it’s not just a celebrity. It’s the self-proclaimed ‘Most Trusted Personal Finance Expert’ in America today, Suze Orman. She just released The Approved Card. I like Suze, but I don’t like that she has created this card and is marketing it in this way.”
Here’s how Orman responded when someone tweeted a link to Phil’s article:
Money Talks News / Money Talks News
While Orman may have disagreed with Phil’s arguments, they were perfectly legitimate. He’s no idiot. And threatening a fan by saying “just keep following others and see where it gets you” simply sounds unhinged.
Orman later apologized.
6. Driving Miss Crazy
Orman, like nearly every other personal finance adviser, isn’t a fan of buying cars new. From her Facebook page:
“Remember, the minute a new car is driven off the lot, it loses 20% of its value; if you buy a new used car, you won’t be paying for that.”
Good, sound advice. But if you don’t think people should buy new cars, should you endorse them on TV, as she did in an Acura commercial?
One might argue that appearing in an ad for cars doesn’t compromise Orman’s objectivity or integrity. But the optics are bad: She’s willing to trade her credibility for cash.
I don’t know what it’s like to have a $30 million net worth, nor do I know the temptation of being approached for a national car ad. But I’d like to think that if I already had more money than I could spend, I’d turn down an ad that sent the wrong message to my audience.
If you think I’m being tough on Suze, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Here’s a one hour documentary from someone who helped Suze get where she is. It may be too long for you to watch right now, but if you’re even thinking of giving this woman a dime, or know someone who is, it’s a must-see.
It’s not just Suze
Orman has presumably helped many Americans feel more in control of their money, and I agree with the many things I’ve heard her say over the years. But this article isn’t just about Orman. It’s about you and where you can find advice you can trust.
It’s reasonable to assume that when you see someone on TV, or see their books on best-seller lists, you can trust their advice. Reasonable, but wrong. Being famous doesn’t make you smart. Oprah Winfrey claiming you’re an expert doesn’t make you one. Being rich doesn’t equate to being wise. Admitting to stupid mistakes doesn’t make them less stupid.
Here’s the bottom line: Read as much as you can from as many sources as you choose. But if you’re going to put your trust somewhere, put it first in those who have academic credentials, a long track record and a history of saying and doing things that are logical and successful.
I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.
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