For me, Suze Orman’s The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical and Spiritual Steps So You Can Stop Worrying was the book that really changed my life. I first saw her on Oprah and I believe I bought the book shortly after it was released. I still have it. Yes, it’s very basic, but that’s a good thing.
Here’s how this book helped me:
3 Things I learned after reading The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom
1. I understand how my attitudes toward money were formed.
The first thing I learned is that Suze says that our attitudes toward spending are formed by the lessons we learn about money during our childhood. Not the financial lessons our parents intentionally teach us, but the lessons that they demonstrate. That rang really true for me. The summer when I was 15, my dad was laid off from his job and money was very tight. To this day, I live in fear of ever being in that situation and spending money can be painful for me when I feel our financial situation is threatened.
2. I got a health directive.
The second thing I learned through this book is health directive. Around the time this book came out, my aunt died. As soon as I discovered that I could get a free fill-in-the-blanks Advanced Directive for Health without getting a will or hiring a lawyer, I filled one out.
I wanted to make sure my parents had the power to make decisions if the need arose. This was before Terry Schaivo, and when that case arose I was very happy I had one already in place. You can get one for free from Compassion & Choices. If you have one, be sure to update it if your marital status or one of your designees dies or becomes unable to make decisions for you. I updated mine when I got married.
3. I understand the mechanics of money.
The third lesson from the book is understanding how money works. I received an inheritance from my aunt and Suze’s book taught me the basics about life insurance, retirement plans, wills, trusts, investing, and deciding to buy real estate. I’ve since learned much more, but this book provided the foundation for me to build on.
I continue to carry the lessons of this book with me, which is perhaps why Your Money or Your Life wasn’t a life-changer for me. It had already been changed by The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom.
This isn’t to say the book is perfect. Certainly, she could delve deeper into each individual topic area, but if you don’t know the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA, or the difference between a 401K and other financial vehicles, then this is a good place to start. If you don’t think you need a will, this book will help you determine whether that’s true.
However, if you’ve already worked through the money lessons you learned as a child and already understand the basics of life insurance, wills, trusts, real estate, and investment options, then you don’t need this book. If you don’t believe that your childhood lessons affect your current financial attitudes, then this also isn’t the book for you.
Final Thoughts on Suze Orman 9 Steps to Financial Freedom
If you want a basic book that provides an overview of several important personal finance topics and is interested in learning how you developed your financial attitudes, then I recommend this book.