You are denied!
If you've tuned into Oprah Winfrey's show at any time over the past week or so, chances are you've been treated to a jacket full of finance diva Suze Orman. She's been on the show offering debt counseling to Oprah's viewers.

Very often, her advice is useful, if sassy. "You are denied!" she'll yell into the camera at women, already in debt, who want to borrow more to buy a house, or get a new car, or indulge some other want. She's right: We should all avoid unnecessary debt, if at all possible.

So why the heck is Oprah hawking's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle? "I know it's expensive in these times, but it's not frivolous because it will pay for itself," she told her audience. "The books are much cheaper, and you're saving paper."

Right. What was I thinking? Here's $309, Ms. Winfrey. Take my library, too.

You are denied ... responsible advice
There's something unseemly about watching Oprah sell out like this. I mean, what's next -- having Suze hawk designer jackets to her indebted denizens? The whole affair reminds me of an old Steven Wright joke:

I have a 3-year-old dog; I named him "Stay." He was a lot of fun when he was a puppy, because when I called him I'd say, "Come here, Stay. Come here, Stay." ... He's a lot smarter than that now. Now, when I call him, he'll just ignore me and keep on typing.

Boy, would I love to do that, too. But I can't. In my opinion, Oprah's advice is worse than conflicted; it's moronic. If the members of your audience are struggling to make ends meet, are they really in a position to spend more than $300 on a Kindle -- just for the opportunity to spend hundreds more on e-books so the device can "pay for itself"?

Suze isn't much better at times. During a recent episode of Oprah, she told the audience that "a stock certificate won't put a roof over your head" -- the implication being that you're better off investing in your mortgage than in your portfolio.

Maybe, but these situations are rare in my experience. More often, it's correct to invest, because:

  1. Stocks, not real estate, offer the surest path to retirement wealth.
  2. You needn't take outsized risks to earn outsized rewards.

And that's it.

Wait! There's more!
Well, OK, that isn't everything. To successfully invest for retirement, you need to:

  • Pay as little in fees as you can. Fees eat into returns. And I mean really eat into returns. Earning just 1% extra per year on $1,000 invested annually over 30 years adds up to 33% more at retirement.
  • Save as much as you can. Big balances are built, not made, so be aggressive with saving in your 401(k) and in your personal brokerage account. Future You will thank Present You when it comes time for retirement. (Say that five times fast.)
  • Invest as often as you can. Regularly dollar-cost averaging into a diversified portfolio of assets is, over time, a proven wealth generator.

Finally, because stocks are better than a Kindle when it comes to funding your retirement, here's a list of five-star dividend dynamos that you can buy for a whole lot less than $309 using a starter brokerage account:


Latest Price


Diageo (NYSE:DEO)



BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP)



Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM)



TransCanada (NYSE:TRP)



MVC Capital (NYSE:MVC)



Titanium Metals (NYSE:TIE)



Sources: Motley Fool CAPS Screener, Yahoo! Finance.

Or, if you're the cataclysmic type, use your $309 to buy roughly 0.42 ounces of gold.

With apologies to comedian Bill Maher, what we need, Oprah, is a new rule: No more dispensing financial advice on your show. At least not until you cut the consumerism -- specifically, until you realize that an electronic book reader is optional for the great majority of us who carry credit card debt. Send your viewers to their local libraries instead.

Lots of women want to live like you, Oprah. Almost none of them can. They're too busy being denied! by Suze Orman.

Retire to the easy chair with related Foolishness: