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If You Knew Suze Like We Know Suze

You wouldn’t listen to her advice.


"Tell me what I need to know," people often say to me. "Here is what you need to know," I answer.

—Suze Orman, The Road to Wealth

How a bottle-blond former waitress and self-described "55-year-old virgin" with a taste for the good life became the financial messiah for millions of Americans might be a fun Lifetime original movie. Why the masses continue to invest their faith in Suze Orman in the wake of a financial meltdown she never saw coming is a more timely question. The answer is complicated.

If you've managed to avoid Orman over the past decade, you don't watch Oprah, CNBC, or PBS, and you've probably never entered an airport bookstore, where her toothy, cougarlike visage graces the covers of numerous best-sellers, the latest of which, 2009 Action Plan, has more than 1 million copies in print and has, according to her publisher, been downloaded 2.2 million times at www.suzeorman.com. There, you might also be convinced to open an Orman-sponsored TD Ameritrade brokerage account or buy one of the products that she also sells on QVC, including: the Suze Orman FICO Kit Platinum Version w/Action Planner ($47.70); the Suze Orman Identity Theft Protection Kit w/Anti-Spyware ($39.78); and Suze Orman's Organize and Protect Financial System ($66 plus S&H; Easy Pay! Installment plan available).

James Scurlock is the author of Maxed Out: Hard Times in the Age of Easy Credit, and director of the documentary of the same name.