Before I got to know her work, I used to roll my eyes at financial guru Suze Orman and her odd, sometimes outrageous money advice. But on closer study, I've got to admit that she sometimes dispenses sound counsel to people who really need it.

Collecting complaints
Orman draws a lot of criticism for her stances on various financial matters:

  • She tends to focus mostly on people who are in debt because of overspending.
  • She advocates dollar-cost averaging -- systematically investing regular amounts over time -- despite criticism of that strategy.
  • She recommends that people invest in stocks while keeping most of her own money outside the stock market, and criticizes lavish spending even as she flies around in private jets.

Most of these complaints seem silly to me. As a fellow personal finance specialist, I've wrestled with many of these issues and come to similar conclusions.

Dealing with debt
It's true that debt troubles don't always result from irresponsible spending. People often go bankrupt because of financial crises such as job loss, divorce, or medical catastrophe.

Nevertheless, the lectures Orman delivers are valuable to those who need to hear it. Many Americans have been spending beyond their means. Controlling your debt -- and planning for financial crises before they happen -- is the first key to getting rich.

Dollar-cost averaging
This is a tough one for me. If a company's stock is dropping for a good reason, it's not smart to keep buying more shares. Grandma was right to tell us to not throw good money after bad.

But on the flip side, we all dollar-cost average all the time with our 401(k) accounts, dividend reinvestment plans, and other common investing vehicles. If you want to own $10,000 of a certain stock, and you only have $3,000 now, why not build up the position you want over time?

The system is also effective if you're skittish about where the market is headed. You want to buy in case it's about to surge, but you don't want to commit all your money right before a big drop. Dollar-cost averaging helps minimize your risk by easing your way into the position you want.

Stocks are best
When it comes to recommending stock investment, count me among Orman's camp. And I don't see any hypocrisy in what Orman does with her own money. If you have tens of millions of dollars, you don't need to take the risks associated with owning stocks to secure yourself a comfortable financial future. Ultra-conservative investments are probably the safest, smartest place for Orman's vast wealth.

For most of us, though, stocks are both necessary and compelling. And in today's market, many solid stocks are on sale. These companies popped up when I screened for robust sales and earnings growth among five-star companies in our Motley Fool CAPS community:

Company

3-Year Revenue Growth Rate

3-Year EPS Growth Rate

1-Year Return

Noble (NYSE:NE)

28%

51%

(43.9%)

National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV)

33%

58%

(56.7%)

Transocean (NYSE:RIG)

56%

69%

(48.4%)

Fluor (NYSE:FLR)

17%

40%

(40.7%)

China Mobile (NYSE:CHL)

25%

33%

(24.6%)

Agrium (NYSE:AGU)

40%

117%

(56.4%)

Accenture (NYSE:ACN)

11%

21%

(11.2%)

Data: Motley Fool CAPS.

What you deserve
It's easy to find something about which to disagree with Suze Orman. But there's also value in her messages, and her lessons seem to be reaching people who need them.

And while some scoff at her suggestion that we all receive the life we deserve, from a certain point of view that's inarguably true. If you put off investing for decades, you'll get (and arguably deserve) a skimpy retirement nest egg. But if you take charge of your investing and get your household finances in order, you'll secure for yourself a future as cozy and well-padded as the oversized shoulders of Orman's favorite jackets.

Further food for thought:

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. National Oilwell Varco is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Accenture is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try our investing newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy doesn't know what's up with the jackets.