Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Suze Orman on Investing

Before reading her latest book “Women & Money,” I didn’t know much about Suze Orman other than the fact that she is a TV personality who talks about money. I wasn’t expecting much from her book but was pleasantly surprised.

The book is billed as “for women only,” but this mostly applies to the first 55 pages devoted to motivating women to read (and act on) the rest of the book. If you have thoughts on how useful these 55 pages are, I’d be interested in hearing them; they didn’t really apply to me.

The actual financial advice starts in Chapter 6, and most of it applies to men as well. The section on retirement investing (page 115) is particularly good. Much of the detailed advice is intended for Americans, but the broad advice is useful for Canadians as well.

Orman recommends that until you are a few years away from retirement, 100% of your retirement money should be invested in stock index funds. She prefers low-cost index exchange-traded funds (ETFs), but considers low-cost index mutual funds to be acceptable as well.

It was refreshing to read something other than the standard advice to allocate your investments on some percentage basis to each of cash, bonds, and stocks. Apart from emergency cash reserves, and short-term bonds for money you will need to spend in the next 3 or so years, I have never found a good reason to hold cash or bonds for the long term.

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