Suze Orman’s ultimate protection portfolio (and a do-it-yourself alternative)

For the past few months, I’ve been pursuing a paperless personal finance system. I’ve scheduled electronic transactions with my bank, and I scan important documents when I receive them. My method is still very much in “beta”, but I hope to write about it later this year.

My sister-in-law, Tiffany, isn’t a computer geek, but she’s been trying to get her financial documents organized, too. So when she saw an advertisement for Suze Orman’s Ultimate Protection Portfolio, she figured it was worth $66.24 to make her life a little easier. She ordered the kit, and has spent the past week putting it to use. When I dropped by her house today, she showed me the system.

The Ultimate Protection Portfolio

The Suze Orman Ultimate Protection Portfolio comes in a big blue plastic case, which is ostensibly water-resistant. (I didn’t actually put this to the test.) Inside the case are:

  • A custom accordion-file system with ten pockets designated for specific areas of your personal finances. The outside of each pocket contains “Suze’s Advice and Checklist” for that particular topic. For example, the Credit/Debt pouch advises, “Review your credit report at least once a year to make sure all information is accurate.” The pockets are wide and cozy and will contain a lot of information.
  • Ten short booklets with topics corresponding to the the pockets in the accordion file. Each booklet is 48 pages long (except Estate Planning, which has 80 pages) and contains a brief overview of the topic. The Investment Records booklet, for example, covers financial advisers, mutual funds, and risk tolerance (or “fear factor” as Orman calls it). The information in these booklets is from 2005.
  • A Protection Portfolio CD-ROM containing financial forms, record-keeping software, and a tool to help draft a will. You must have an active internet connection to use this software.
  • A special integrated organizer with pockets for passports, social security cards, and more.
  • A variety of forms and checklists, including an emergency contact list.

“That’s a lot of stuff,” I told Tiffany. “I can see how it would be nice to have everything in one place. What do you think of it?”

“I do like the fact that everything’s in one place,” she said. “But this is an expensive way to do it. I don’t regret buying it, but I do feel like I could have made something similar myself for less money. It might be worth it if the books were any good, but I think they’re lame.”

“I can see that,” I said. “I looked through a few of them. They information is solid, but it seems pretty basic. And they tend to skip over a lot. I think they’re just designed to get people started.”

A Do-It-Yourself Alternative

Tiffany was probably right when she said she could make something similar for less money. The Ultimate Protection Portfolio is worth the $66.24 if it motivated her to get things organized, but in retrospect there were cheaper options available:

  • At its heart, the Suze Orman Ultimate Protection Portfolio is simply a good old-fashioned expanding file. We probably have one in the garage. Maybe you do, too. Even if I had to buy one new, Amazon has a variety for around $10.
  • The ten booklets seem excessive. With a quick trip to the public library, you can pick up many great personal finance books for free. (They probably even have a couple Suze Orman books, including The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke and Nine Steps to Financial Freedom.)
  • You can buy Suze Orman’s Will & Trust Kit for $13.57 from Amazon. It’s even sub-branded “The Ultimate Protection Portfolio”, so I’m willing to bet it’s the same software.
  • Instead of an integrated organizer with pockets for your passport and other important items, you can simply stick these all in a large zip-loc freezer bag and place them in one of the slots of your expanding file.
  • You can find many free, printable emergency forms on the web, including these at Organized Home. If you own a copy of Quicken, it may actually contain an Emergency Records Organizer utility. Often it’s most convenient simply create your own.

For about $25, you can build your own custom emergency records portfolio. I admit that this system won’t be water-resistant, and it won’t have Suze Orman’s advice, but I’m willing to bet that you won’t notice the difference. You’ll still have peace of mind knowing all your important household and financial documents are in one easy-to-reach central location.

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There are 60 comments to "Suze Orman’s ultimate protection portfolio (and a do-it-yourself alternative)".

  1. Eric says 26 March 2008 at 05:52

    I don’t understand why Water resistant is such a large selling point. Personally, I keep a lot of documents in a filing cabinet at home, but all my tax returns, S.S cards, Passports, and other important paper work is in a Water Resistant, FIRE PROOF, Brinks security box. Should the house ever catch fire, I’d be more concerned with the fire than the water damage! That plastic Box may resist the water, but It’s going to melt when the heat rises.

  2. Four Pillars says 26 March 2008 at 06:37

    Good topic – we are working on our filing system but have not purchased any kind of ‘system’.

    A filing cabinet, bunch o’folders works for us.


  3. David says 26 March 2008 at 06:45

    I stick to digital with digital backups as much as possible. Paperless is certainly the way to go.

    I’ve heard Orman on multiple occassions tell people to go check her books out at the library instead of buying them.

  4. Kent Thune says 26 March 2008 at 07:01

    Suze Orman is a marketing mind first and financial mind second. That is neither a compliment nor a complaint — simply an observation…

  5. SavingDiva says 26 March 2008 at 07:26

    I think it’s great that you are moving to an organizational system. I should do something like this…thanks for the frugal method!

  6. Covert7 says 26 March 2008 at 07:32

    Anyone have any idea about the Will & Trust software? I’m looking to setup a pretty basic will for my wife and me. I read the reviews on Amazon but there’s only seven there so not a great sample size…

  7. LK says 26 March 2008 at 07:36

    I watched her hawk this on PBS recently during their pledge drive. She is a masterful saleswoman. She repeated “You NEED this portfolio!” or some variation of neeeeeding this, 3-4x that I counted. It was fascinating to watch; she is very convincing. As it is, I have multiple expanding file folders at home that contain everything, and I mean EVERYTHING – credit reports, FSA claims, insurance, tax returns, etc etc etc.

  8. Marilyn says 26 March 2008 at 08:09

    This is a great way for Suze Orzman to make money. She has name recognition and this is very cheap to throw together. I logged on to say while water protection is good (use ziplock bags), you need some fire protection too.

    As for writing wills, if you only want a simple will, you can get samples from the internet for free or just write your own. I took a paralegal course in Wills, Trusts, and Estates (by no means am I qualified to do estate planning for anyone else) but you don’t necessarily need a pricey kit or a more expensive lawyer to do this for you. Make sure you have witnesses sign your will or better yet, sign it in front of a notary and have him/her notarize it.

  9. Get a Grip Girl says 26 March 2008 at 08:10

    I don’t think you need an expensive filing system to get started. Once you want to organize, some simple files would do. Too much dependency on tools and gadgets is just wasting money. Once you got into the habit of filing, then you can explore at tweaking them to suit your needs. I rather that way. I just started with Excel and a folder with multiple pockets. That worked for me and my budget. Perhaps six months down the line I will look into Money or Quicken. Until then…mmm..let me not spend, spend and spend.

  10. Joshua says 26 March 2008 at 08:12

    Suze Orman is a money advising hack. She gives you basic information that you could have read about on any personal finance blog on the internet. If you’re smart you won’t listen to her.

  11. Richard Miller says 26 March 2008 at 08:23

    You lost me at Suze Orman. I was never impressed with her books, etc. But it wasn’t until I listened to her speak. Pure fluff, total arrogance, and so much more.

    Of particular note was her making it very clear that she was hot stuff, and oh-so-cool because she was rich. She not only came across that way, she directly and clearly communicated it verbally. I despise that attitude. I have many very wealthy friends. I can tell you with certainty that not all wealthy people are arrogant and think they are better than those less wealthy.

    Count me out is Suze is involved. I can’t get past the “jerk” persona I saw in person.

  12. cathy says 26 March 2008 at 08:24

    I have also purchased Suze Ormans organization portfolio.I think for someone who has no idea where to start it is good. It helped me to get all of my papers in order.That was over a year ago. Since then the portfolio fell apart from overuse and I didn’t like the look of the blue plastic container. So now I use the same categories for my file folders and have everything organized in a file drawer. I didn’t use it to make a will but it did inspire me to go to an attorney to have a will made.So,is it worth it? Ultimately,for me yes.Would I tell others to buy it? No,I would tell them just what I did and let them decide for themselves.

  13. Moneymonk says 26 March 2008 at 08:43

    You can’t knock her for marketing it. That’s how gurus make their money

  14. Ali says 26 March 2008 at 08:43

    I can see what you are saying here, but I still think its great and simplified product for those who are less-DIY inlclined (say my mother).

  15. Monevator says 26 March 2008 at 08:49

    I have to admit when I first saw this post I though the gizmo was a shredder. With identity theft on the rise, I think a shredder should be part of everyone’s protection plan. Don’t discard any financial statements in the trash.

    Slight aside over. 🙂

  16. J.D. says 26 March 2008 at 08:51

    @Ali and Cathy

    I agree absolutely. This isn’t a terrible product, and the price isn’t outrageous. The information and concept is great for somebody who doesn’t know where to begin. There’s nothing wrong with this system. But for many GRS readers, I think building your own emergency organizer is a better way to go.

  17. Aaron Pinkston says 26 March 2008 at 09:00

    JD said, “…it won’t have Suze Orman’s advice, but I’m willing to bet that you won’t notice the difference.” The truth hurts sometimes.

    Thanks for sharing your frugal alternative.

  18. Victor says 26 March 2008 at 09:12

    Nolo has good will/trust software (Willmaker). They have it on amazon. Look for one that has the book with the cd with it.

  19. Finally Frugal says 26 March 2008 at 09:15

    I’m definitely suspicious of personal finance gurus who sell their wares (at somewhat inflated prices) while chiding us about our spending habits.

    Suze Orman’s not a favorite of mine anyway, but I generally try to find anything (even CD-based ‘workshops’) at the library first, before even considering a purchase. Plan B would be an Ebay search to see if I could obtain the kit at a lower price.

  20. The Weakonomist says 26 March 2008 at 09:36

    Suze kills her credibility by putting her brand on this. She’s pretty good, but this is just a joke.

  21. TheOzz says 26 March 2008 at 10:10

    I appreciate the comments here. I was given a ticket to a “GET MOTIVATED” business seminar running all day tomorrow here in Charleston, SC. Suze Orman is one of the live speakers along with others including Zig Ziglar, Rick Belluzzo, Brain Tracy, and Robert Schuller. I am leaning towards a vote to skip the seminar and actually do some work that my customer will appreciate.

  22. JenK says 26 March 2008 at 10:21

    Maybe if I’d discovered Suze Orman before reading Eric Tyson & Jane Bryant Quinn I’d have liked her stuff. Instead a friend handed me Women & Money with “OMG you have to read this!” and … um … it just seemed like lots of touchy-feeling fluff that had nothing to do with practicalities or my situation at the time (single, high earner, looking for reasonable investments & a practical system to keep from losing my bills before I could pay them). This is supposed to be helpful how?

    This kit sounds rather like the book, actually.

  23. Stevelle says 26 March 2008 at 10:28

    Hitting on the theme of identity theft again, putting your SS Card, Passport, and other financial records all in one place makes for quick work for thieves.

    The old form of burglary, stealing cameras, jewelry, etc., is declining as the street value falls for those goods… but identity theft is on the rise.

    Be aware of the risk if you do create one of these portfolios.

  24. Guest says 26 March 2008 at 10:32


    “Make sure you have witnesses sign your will or better yet, sign it in front of a notary and have him/her notarize it.”

    I’m an estate planning paralegal and I’d be careful giving advice like this. Different states have different laws. A notarized will may be valid in your state, but it isn’t in mine.

  25. Agnes Kelly says 26 March 2008 at 11:50

    I had ordered this kit from QVC. At first I thought I would be happy with it since it seemed so comprehensive. After I looked at it for a few days I felt quilty for spending the money on something that I could put together myself for a lot less money, so back it went! I agree witht he comment about a FIRE-PROOF box. Perhaps important papers ould be kept in a safety deposit box at a bank- identity thieves would have a hrd time getting to the items there!

  26. Jeremy says 26 March 2008 at 12:23

    Marilyn said, “…you don’t necessarily need a pricey kit or a more expensive lawyer to do this for you. Make sure you have witnesses sign your will or better yet, sign it in front of a notary and have him/her notarize it.”

    Not to pick on Marilyn, but while you may or may not strictly *need* an expensive lawyer, stuff like this is exactly why you *should* have a lawyer draft your will and oversee the signing. Rules on the number of witnesses needed for a will signing vary state to state, as does much of the substantive law on wills. In my state, having a notary act as the sole witness to the signing a will would not fly for the purposes of authentication. Squirrel away $250 bucks and have somebody do it right.

    My father got a Suze Orman kit that included a medical power of attorney form, and let’s just say that while my father is a smart man, what he and the software ended up with was garbage. Plenty of people will never have an issue using these products. Plenty of people will. Most of them would have been better served by spending extra to have someone qualified do it properly.

  27. OurDebtBlog says 26 March 2008 at 13:10

    I can’t believe people actually buy stuff like that… a lot if it is plain common sense… I guess Suze needs more jackets LOL.


  28. Matt Sullivan says 26 March 2008 at 13:18

    Good stuff,

    You are so right about the ID theft stuff. As a Financial Coach I end up helping my clients pick up the pieces long after the initial theft. This is great advice. You can keep your personal information organized without compromising security.

  29. mike says 26 March 2008 at 15:35

    Suze Orman is an idiot, she’s just a scam artist on tv. When it comes to wills, trusts, and other estate planning, just save the money to get it professionally done. yea it might be expensive but it’s expensive for a reason.

    Get professional advisors to handle your personal stuff instead of doing it yourself. it’s worth it in the long run. There are a lot of lawyers, financial planners and accountants that might not be totally trustworthy, so don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions, if it’s not your profession you’re not expected to know everything. Trust your instincts, if you don’t think you can trust someone you probably can’t and find someone else.

    • T. Orman Sheffield says 03 July 2013 at 22:12

      Yes, that is my name- not related to Suze. I have a certified birth certificate for proof. If Suze is such a idiot why do people continue to quote her and reference her name. She is successful because she gives you valid advice. you can get good advice from other places, all attorneys are not good will & trust writers but many specialize in that area and are trusted by clients. Suze does ask you to do a little research on your own, I think a good idea. If Suze is an idiot I hope this Orman soon becomes an idiot too.

  30. shoyu says 26 March 2008 at 16:29

    I just bury all my important documents in the backyard inside a biodegradable container. BTW, Suze invests like a grandmother.

  31. M3 Sweatt says 26 March 2008 at 18:23

    A good set of suggestions in your “Do-It-Yourself Alternatives” – I would add one thing that we did at home, which was to compile a list of important infomration (account numbers, contacts, phone numbers…) and scans of all important documents (birth certificates, passports, deed, wills…) which we saved on to a couple of inexpensive memory sticks. One of the memory sticks is in our safe deposit box, another in an emergency “be prepared” bag (as noted at stuffed with items we may need in case of an emergency evacuation, and at a family member’s house. And just for safety, the contents are password protected.

  32. Hannah says 26 March 2008 at 19:00

    Good post! I’m pretty traditional in that I keep things on paper instead of all electronically (not for safety reasons, I just find it easier) and have been considering making a “one stop shop” of sorts for my records. Great timing for me to be reading this post.

  33. Mrs. Micah says 26 March 2008 at 19:05

    I like the idea and even the system for someone who’s trying to get her financial life in order but doesn’t have the time and energy to read all the books and blogs on the subject. Sometimes it’s best to buy a step by step assistant.

    We’ve got a plastic file box with hanging folders. My grandmother gave it to us and it’s got all kinds of stuff like passports, birth certificates, marriage license as well as tax returns and the like. Probably similar to this other thing though not as well-organized. One of my goals is to put it in better order. At least it’s all in one box.

  34. Jeff says 26 March 2008 at 20:45

    I have been watching Suze’s show for years and I would never call her a scam artist — actually, in a world FULL of scam artists, she spends a lot of the time on her show helping people who have been taken in by various types of financial con men, and by extension helping the rest of us know scams when we see them.

    Yes, Suze’s TV and live shows come with an upsell — as do Dave Ramsey’s shows. They try to sell you books and kits and God knows what else. I’ve never bought anything from either of them, although I STILL may buy Suze’s Wills and Trusts kit — given that I’m young and don’t have a wife or kids, I just don’t see myself spending money on a lawyer to make a will that will probably be super-simple and may never get used. But my point is that you don’t have to buy ANY products to get good information from Orman or Ramsey. And no, not all of Suze’s advice is basic, obvious stuff — if you watch her show you’ll find that she is far, far more knowledgeable than the average financial blogger on just about any topic that involves money and the law.

    I have never agreed with any financial guru 100%, but I think it’s safe to say that Suze Orman is one of the better ones out there.

  35. Liz says 26 March 2008 at 21:27

    As far as getting organized I use an accordian file I got from a box store for five dollars. The birth certificates, deeds, etc. are suppose to be in the safe deposit box. My husband who is an over the road truck driver had been keeping his birth cetfificate and passport (He needs it to go to Canada) in a zip lock bag in his truck. When he emptied his truck on a trip home a couple of months ago he put the bag in a safe place. It took my ten days of searching the house before I found it.

    The up side is that I organized and decluttered the entire house, found evething that the four kids had lost, and found the documents in the bag.

    We have now designated one safe place in the house so it this won’t happen again.

  36. Randy Fox says 27 March 2008 at 03:04

    After 20 plus years as a CFP and now devoting most of my time to estate planning, I thnk any advice or tool that helps someone wreate their own Will is a littlle like giving a tool kit for removing your own appendix. If it helps you organize your thoughts and highlights areas you need to think about, great but drafting and executing on your own is just plain stupid advice.

  37. Tim says 27 March 2008 at 06:01

    i’m digitalized as well. whenever i get anything important it gets scanned into pdf and saved on my hard drive that i back up regularly.

  38. Kathy says 27 March 2008 at 06:26

    I bought this blue kit a while ago for about $54 at QVC. Its ok….it motivated me to take stuff out of radum file folders and put it all together. I think Suze Orman is obssessed with water-proof because she lives in a hurricane area. I’d rather have fire proof.

    I think she is good for people who need to get started thinking about personal finance….and there are many people out there that know next to nothing. I think she really wants women to get organized and save some of their own money. She tells people (gives permission) to take the CD that comes with the kit and share it with everyone they know so that people have the right documents in place. You can’t legally do that with many others.

    She’s too basic for me, but I know a number of people who appreciate her.
    I think the idea of having everything in one place, and in this day and age having everything mobile and ready to grab and run is a good idea.

  39. Jeffeb3 says 27 March 2008 at 08:30

    It’s an interesting observation that Suze isn’t a scam artist because the people she helps often were scammed themselves. That tells me that (to be blunt) stupid people are her patrons. That makes me skeptical.

    I like looking at the people who buy things more than the things themselves. I recently made a big purchase, and the reason I bought the one that I did was because the reviews were along the line of “I compared these two, and I found this was better because…” and the reviews for the other were more like “I bought this, and it’s great! hooray for me!”.

    For a side note, this binder isn’t very secure. You should take the advice of other readers and get a fireproof (resistant really) box that you can screw into something strong in your house. I’m going to see this thing on “It Takes a Thief”.

  40. Dave says 28 March 2008 at 08:52

    One thing I would like to add that is often overlooked: Fire and water go hand in hand. Meaning that when there is a fire, usually (and hopefully soon) it is followed by water or some chemical fire extinguisher. Even when items survive a fire, they are usually water damaged to some degree. Ideally, you would want a fireproof AND waterproof storage device.

  41. Zook says 28 March 2008 at 09:09

    Take the $66.XX and put it in your Roth IRA and buy a simple Index fund, then ask your boss if you can have 10 manila envelopes. All done!

    I really don’t mean sound like a cheapskate or that $65 is an amazing sum of money, but buy a few envelopes and label them. What is so hard about that system?

  42. Bonnie says 28 March 2008 at 10:31

    @ Jeff: I totally agree with you. You cannot blindly follow any financial guru to the letter, but Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey have wonderful advice and plans. Right now I am personally using a combination of Suze’s YFB book and Dave’s Total Money Makeover (in addition to other sources and my own sense), and it’s working for me. They are both terrific at firing people up to become and stay debt-free and to be serious about their finances, and that’s a good thing. That said, I wouldn’t buy this kit. And when the time comes for me to make a will (I’m 31, unmarried, no kids, no assets right now), I will use a lawyer. I used to work for a probate attorney and it is imperative that it be done right. You won’t believe the trouble and pain that can be caused by a faulty will, etc.

  43. Jason says 28 March 2008 at 17:45

    I did this about 2 years ago after the hurricanes of 2005. I started thinking, “What if I have to ‘bug out’?” Not necessarily because of a hurricane but for any reason: fire, bad weather, etc.

    So I used an old plastic file box, bought some 6 part folders, a 2 hole punch, and I organized all my important files into those folders and they all fit in one file box. I have all my medical records, personal records, tax returns as well as old bank statements before they went digital.

    Eventually I’m going to buy a scanner and have it all on a thumb drive with at least 2 thumb drives as back ups. But for now this serves the purpose. Total cost was around $25.

  44. Robin says 30 March 2008 at 11:23

    JD, you may already know this but just in case… Hard drives fail. Not some of the time. Always. The only question is when. It may be 10 years, it may be 2. Laptop hard drives will fail sooner because they are abused a lot more. A mechanical arm inside the hard drive moves back and forth to read and write data to a spinning disc, failure is a given in that scenario. Even using an external drive that you set aside, the oil inside will dry out if the platter isn’t spun up about once a year.

    I know nothing about the longevity of flash memory (I doubt anyone does since it’s so new) but as to other means of storing digital data- Burned CDs have a shelf life of about 10 years (probably more than sufficient for financial data), if they are properly stored. I’ve seen the silver coating on a CD start to peel after only a few months (that’s where the data is stored, the rest is just a clear plastic disc). DVDs are more fragile than CDs and must be put in the special DVD cases, not CD cases so you don’t bend them when taking them out of the case.

    FYI, aside from my day job I’m an independent filmmaker and looking for a good way to store data from my films, so I’ve been doing some research into digital data storage. The good news is, documents, pdfs and even jpegs take up a lot less space than video files. 🙂

    As for my financial records- hanging file folders inside a milk crate. It’s just the right width and has handles for carrying. Extremely low tech. I bought the hanging folders for a few dollars and got the milk crate for free way back in college. The downside is I’m in SoCal and it isn’t fire proof.

    I’ve had a safe deposit box at a bank before and been thinking about getting one again, but only for important papers like my birth certificate, car title, passport, etc.

  45. Steve G says 27 April 2008 at 02:26

    Granted, Suze’s advices may be too “basic” for some, but for the majority of people, knowing the basic is already better than knowing nothing. And come on Mike, just because you “think” you know more than Suze does not mean she is a scam artist. So let’s say you know how to change the engine oil, that does not mean all of the sudden you can all those car mechanics “scam artist”, can ya? 🙂

  46. Andy says 10 May 2008 at 16:00

    Ms. Orman simplify personal finance issues to just the basics for the majority of people who don’t take the time to learn the basics. The box is not the value. The value is simplifying personal finance organization into a list of few major categories of importance and what typical documents fit each category so the TYPICAL American can get their personal finance house in order. The portfolio saves time($) in deciphering the many verbose volumes filled with grandiose terms and ideas that over complicate personal finance and what is important to the average person. Is learning everything you can about finances important —yes! But what % of Americans takes the time to do learn finance? The typical person will spend more time planning their vacations during their life than will plan their financial future. That is a sad statement about people in this country, but true.

    Today I am long past the basic teachings of Ms. Orman, but her basics taught in every day terms did get me started in my financial knowledge. Is there more beyond Orman, absolutely. It is a financial supermarket — take what you need and leave the rest. Go to other sources for missing items. No one has it all for anyone.

  47. Lisa Wray says 19 May 2008 at 21:39

    I have went thru the documents that she is telling you that you need to have on hand. The papers you all keep saying you already have filed are not necessarily the ones you will need in the case of an emergency. And do you have them all ready at a moment’s notice to pick up and take with you? Or would you have to pull out file after file? You will need up to date legal documents, and if your spouse is not able to take care of business, then you better have a current poa or other. Also, current phone numbers of ALL the places you would need to call in the case that all of your other paperwork is destroyed. This includes FEMA-do you have this in your files? Neither did the Katrina victims-but it is noted in her file, and website, so she has very valuable information, so don’t discount it. This is not on your monthly statements necessarily, especially on life insurance paperwork, etc. So don’t be so quick to judge, she has alot of good info, and I don’t think she is arrogant, I think she is saying “wake up America, this is real stuff about your money, and you better be paying attention, because you never know what may come”. I don’t think she would advise anyone who couldn’t afford her books to purchase them, she will leave the common sense up to us to make that decision. Her products offer alot of people who have no clue about money, a plan. A plan is the first step to being in control of your money-that is the point she is trying to drive home.

  48. Melissa says 31 May 2008 at 11:50

    I think that Andy touched on the purpose of this box perfectly. For a person trying to learn the basics upon having a family (in our case suddenly- can you say engaged in Dec, pregnant in April, previously planned June wedding and lo and behold a preemie by December to boot took us all quite a bit by surprise… all of this occuring in 2001 as 9/11 hit and my husband lost his job along with half the world in tech- after I had to resign due to pregnancy complications and plans to be a SAHM as it was) and hence, get started. It unravels the mystery of estate planning and in the very least puts you on a path to understanding all the aspects needing to be covered ultimately by an attorney if necessary.

    I do not believe this kit is a be-all end-all, nor is it frankly marketed imho as though it *should* be. I do believe it is intended as a starting point for those less savy.

    While I am great at organizing, I truly had NO clue how to begin planning estate issues with comlex family situations such as custody (I come from serious abuse with parents who tried to obtain grandparents rights in state that does not allow for them!) and profound inheritances including properties, multiple siblings and second marriages, as well as large liquid funds and investments down the line, (some of which were occuring in June of 2001 for us, as well, as we faced everything else at that particular time). It gives you idea’s, guides, links and check lists. As for the waterproof, I think it was initially marketed after Katrina frankly! I do agree with Fire Proof being necessary for many important doc’s but I also know that this kit is under my bed and can be grabbed on my way out the door. When traveling it goes into a large Fire Safe that is not waterproof. So for us, it’s ideal.

    I am not ‘stupid’ by a long shot, but finance was never my ‘thing’ either. I married young (28) and until then was barely out of grad school; until I found we were expecting a family sooner than originally planned, I had little use for ‘long term’ planning concerning money. Smart? Not necessarily. Typical in America? Um, yeah.

    This is a ‘niche market item’ as well imho. It is marketed to SAHM types struggling to pin down all the doc’s they may need in urgent scenarios (such as the bread-winner father – again my personal reality if something shold happen). Life insurance policies, will and trusts, medical declarations, etc are all in one place when one may not be thinking clearly. As I am 35, I am ‘just old enough’ to not have been of the computer era in most of my education until College, so it is not my nature to digitalize at this time. This is another area where the Kit comes in handy… my husband is a Developer. So I can organize all our doc’s and then ultimately (because his personality type is such that otherwise it would NEVER happen) he can take the kit, scan it file by file and back it up for us himself. It is A STEP in the process to financial and fiscal responsibilty, accountability, and organization. Not the Holy Grail.

    As for Ms. Orman. She reached the average American Housewife on a platform not previously available to us in mass media. THis is why she has become a ‘guru’ if you will… nobody else has ever targeted the market. Frankly, her doing so is not just sound… it’s marketing genius in it’s own right. I give her props for that alone. Her info and advice is conservative (and as a blazing social liberal but fiscal conservative it happens to appeal to me perfectly) but sound. I suggest those not fully informed on her platform consider the ‘typical sahm’ as just the market needing to be reached. Most of us that are NOT stupid refuse to be finacially ‘in the dark’ allowing the ‘dear husband’ to just ‘handle it’. This is how women end up screwed ultimately. Again, the niche market she is targeting. It teaches typically (and sadly!!) ‘push over mama’s’ to stand up, find out their finacial situation and health (or lack thereof) and take control. THIS is the most important aspect of her message to me… teaching the American Housewife to become fiscally aware and eventually, sound. Whether involved like me, or those unfortunately not involved enough and surely very much in need to be, she has reached precisely this ear. That is not to say it can not be utilized by others, however ‘understanding’ it’s purpose is perhaps lost on those it was not originally devised for.

    Just an opinion from a well-educated, formerly professional SAHM… her target market indeed!

    • Bernadette P. says 17 November 2012 at 10:23

      Melissa, could not have said it better myself.Most people want to judge but do not want to take the time to listen. Before people argue about a point they need to know their apponent.

  49. Shay says 16 June 2008 at 14:40

    Unfortunately with the internet, stupid people and smart people have equal airtime. Stupid people always seem to get through because they shout louder and longer than the smart person who simply lets it go. I find it appalling that people are so negative no matter what someone does. I don’t care what it is, somebody is ALWAYS going to complain about it. The losers always complain about successful people and the bottom line is Suze Orman is successful regardless if she invests like a grandmother or not as Shoyu said on an earlier post. And you invest your time like a kindergartener with the stupid stuff on this post….so what!! Get a life, make some money, get your ^%$# together. Obviously there is some lack somewhere in your life and you need what Suze has to offer or else you would not spend the time on this post and you would have never been interested in the product in any shape form or fashion anyway.

    And what is this about “my friend bought the product or my co-worker bought the product”. Since when did one freakin person become the authority for everyone. Are you that ignorant to believe that your friend or your coworker is the authority in your life and can make suggestions for you? Get real….

  50. Hubert Kelley says 17 August 2008 at 13:53

    Some time ago, I purchased Suze’s Ultimate Protection Portfolio/Will and Trust Kit. I recently relocated and cannot locate the CD container that has the code number so that I can update the program. Also, I forgot the password but the user name is the same. What can I do to update the program?

    Dr. Hubert Kelley

  51. Hubert Kelley says 17 August 2008 at 13:57

    The #50 comment is basically a request for information. It was the only site I could use to ask a question.

  52. Robin says 12 September 2008 at 18:24

    I think most of us could learn from Suze. To me she is inspirational. She reminds me to get back on track. She is a living example that women can do great things and can lead by example and that they don’t have to rely on others to do it for them. She reminds me that if she can do it, so can I. I get excited when I hear her because she inpires me to keep on perservering when the road gets bumpy. I am not a quiter but sometimes we can all use a push or new perspective. She brings that.

  53. Marylu says 15 September 2008 at 07:33

    Gee whiz, I love Suze Orman, I grew up clueless and totally dependent on my dad, husband, brother, etc, now all are gone and I was lost till I realized I had to pull myself together and I started listening to Suze, and now I am pretty much o.k. I dont have the money to spend on the “kits” though, I thought they were free! hahaha, how stupid can a person be? I have my information in the banks safety deposit box all in labled brown envelopes, like zook suggested. Suze keeps preaching on not to use your Credit Cards, but then trys to sell the expensive kits. This part puzzles me. I do tape every show she does and I love the “can I afford it” part.

  54. tim says 21 September 2008 at 07:54

    hi suze i’m 43 years old. I have a roth ira. the fund’s are washington mutual invs fd cl a and growth fund of america cl a and capital world grw & inc fund a Are they good fund’s. And i have a cd. could i get a index fund also.

  55. Kelly McAllister says 08 January 2009 at 20:11

    I just saw Suze on Larry King and I couldn’t believe it. She went on about how president-elect Obama talked incessantly about raising taxes while running for president. Who’s she kidding? Maybe that’s how she heard it because her income is above the threshold for seeing increased taxes but it was ridiculous to see how she suggested Obama was all about raising taxes, as though for everyone. Then, she launched her claim about Save, which supposedly pays you 15% returns (12 payments of $100 supposedly earns you $100 from Ameritrade). I went to and the language in the agreement with virtually incomprehensible, generally scary, and doesn’t appear to mention anything that pays 15% returns on the investment. In fact, it mentions something like a 0.5 interest rate. I think her claim on this one is equivalent to fraud. It certainly sounded too good to be true and that’s how I view it (despite the fact I couldn’t understand the information on the Ameritrade website). I’ll never be able to listen to Suze Orman again, without getting angry.

  56. Lashunda says 08 June 2009 at 14:01

    tim you can go to her website and get the number and call her or email her to ask her that question. you can also go to and click on cnbc tv then click on cnbc usa and click on on the money the show. they also give advice on their fiances just like suze orman the show comes on on channel 58 at 10/9 central every saturday after the suze orman show just in case you will like to watch it before you call in the host name is carmen if you have comcast if not just your local listing. hubert kelley you can just have them to send your password to your email address if you forgot it. you can download her will and trust kit by going to her website and clicking on will and trust kit on the left hand corner, then click on access code and type in people first. download it, fill it out and get it notarized. you people will know that if you watch the show it comes on at 9/8 central every saturday on channel 58 for people who has comecast if you dont have comcast then just your local listing to see what channel. she is not and idiot or irrogant. she helping people get financially stable who are at a lost or dont know what to do when they are not financially stable. she give good advice.

  57. Sam says 13 December 2009 at 06:47

    For those talking about the water proof part of the kit…
    I’ve been through two house fires & the volume of water pumped into a burning structure is boggling. Anything in your attic will be toast & probably everything below the attic (depending on response time) will be flooded as if hurricane Katrina came by. Firefighters will spray down rooms that aren’t even in danger (and smash everything while they are at it). So that & recent water related natural disasters are probably why she’s doing the water proof thing.
    I remember she said on Oprah that she felt fire boxes were too heavy (remember she’s targeting housewives & seniors) & that she wanted something that would float so it’d be easy to find after the event of a flood or hurricane.

    Personally – I think she could buy some fire boxes in bulk & use those however, it’s her deal & she can do whatever she wants with her company.
    Also, tornados are the threat in my region so, I don’t want anything light weight, I want it heavy enough it doesn’t blow in to the next state 🙂 And while my Brinks says it’s water proof(as long as it’s locked) in addition to fire proof… my son proved back when he was 4 that they aren’t that water proof 😉
    Suze Orman is filling a void out there & she’s educating a large amount of people – that right there should at least be respected. If someone doesn’t know enough to know to do these thing then, they can pay Ms. Orman’s price & get the cute package with all the fill in the blank forms.

    I keep starting such a comprehensive record (of my accounts & such) but then I just can’t seem to write my account numbers and passwords down…. after so many years of guarding my info what if a snoop or thief finds it? That and I used to work cust service for Bank One/1st USA credit cards and I remember the calls from people whose relative, close friend or other trusted person had resulted in exploitation of such info and the train wreck that followed. I’ve already got so much on my plate… I’m leery of welcoming more grief. That said, I’ve got organized records so if anything happens to me, a relative should be able to figure out my finances in 15 minutes and in the event of disaster I fail to see how CC/bill info would be pertinent. I’ve got copies of my auto & life ins policies in my 72 hour kit along with a list of all the ph#’s of companies I do buisness with written in sharpie. That should be sufficient… don’t know if my logic there is flawed.

  58. stan martinez says 23 March 2014 at 20:25

    I have read most reviews and was wondering why no one comments on the ability to ask Suze’s lawyer questions. Im assuming that is an ongoing benefit. Am i wrong or could that be pretty beneficial.

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