Book Review: Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan

I know a lot of people will download Suze Orman’s new eBook, Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan, but I wonder how many people will actually read it. I will admit that I downloaded Suze’s last eBook but never read it. This time I decided to test the waters myself and read the book from cover to cover.

I knew I’d like the book right from the start. On page five Suze compares the current state of the economy to a patient who has been rushed to the hospital in critical condition. I love the analogy.

“After months of aggressive intervention (by the Federal Reserve, the Department of the Treasury, and Congress), the patient is still in the Intensive Care Unit, but the prognosis is that eventually there will be full recovery. In time, the patient will move into a rehabilitation facility and start to get back on his or her feet. Before too long, the patient will be stable enough to go home, though it might be years before he or she is back to full health.”

Suze predicts the economic downturn may continue until 2014 or 2015 and focuses the book on how to alleviate the stress, fear and anger associated with it.

If you read only one chapter in Suze’s book I highly recommend Chapter 2: A Brief History of How We Got Here, which provides a high-level description of the people and events involved in the mortgage meltdown. It’s a great and easy to understand synopsis. It’s important to note that Suze blames a lot of folks for the current state of the economy. She places just as much blame on borrowers and homeowners as she does on banks and lenders. She points out that dishonesty and greed led to the current economic downturn and notes that you are “participating in your own brand of dishonesty if you are living beyond your means.”

“If you have no emergency savings fund, you are not being honest about considering and preparing for all the possibilities life may throw at you. Leasing a car rather than buying a car that is affordably financed is, in my opinion, a form of financial deception. Thinking you didn’t need to invest in your 401(k) or IRA because you could count on steep appreciation in your home to fund a comfortable retirement is irresponsible, wishful thinking. If you keep spending like crazy on the kids because, well, they expect you to, even though you have unpaid bills, that’s a huge slice of dishonesty.”

Suze lays out the remaining chapters in a question-and-answer based format. She focuses on very specific financial questions involving credit, retirement planning, saving, spending, real estate, paying for college and protecting yourself and your family.

Although I read the book from cover to cover it could easily be read piecemeal. For example, if you have specific questions about paying for college you can skip right to that chapter and skip all of the others. The only downside to this format is that a lot a good deal of information is repetitive.

For example, Suze urges readers not to touch the money in their 401(k)s. In the credit chapter she urges readers not to cash out their 401(k) to pay off credit cards, in the real estate chapter not to pay your mortgage, in the paying for college chapter not to pay for a child’s education. The rule is the same no matter what: do not touch your 401(k)s, but the advice is repeated in case you haven’t read the previous chapters.

As always, Suze states the obvious and leaves no room for whining or complaining. In the spending chapter, she writes, “decide once and for all if you want to indulge our protect your family. It really is that simple. If you have credit card debt and no emergency savings, I have to tell you, you do not are about your family’s safety and security.” She also, tells stay-at-home moms they may have to go back to work if they can no longer afford to stay home. She tells readers to stop shelling out money for vacations and weddings they cannot afford and to stop purchasing cars that take more than three years to pay off.

The book is a no-nonsense approach to fixing your finances regardless of your current situation. My husband and I do not carry credit card debt, we are not facing foreclosure, and we do not need to worry about college funds yet, but I still discovered a lot of pertinent financial information. The book is available free for download until January 15th and I highly recommend reading it.

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