Reality check: Orman likes answering financial questions from little old ladies in Utah. And they like her, too.

Much of the public may listen to this self-professed, self-promotional financial planning guru, but some financial advisors despise her with a passion that borders on frenzy. In public, they accuse of her everything from dispensing bad advice and misleading consumers to discrediting the financial planning profession. In private, their voices become strangely shrill and personal, calling her everything from "hustler" to "man-hater."

Granted, it's easy to make fun of someone who recommends rummaging through your closets to find loose change. And it's not surprising that advisors should take umbrage at her put-downs. What is surprising is the vehemence of their attacks.

Some advisors resent the certainty with which she responds to folks who call her radio and TV shows. "She gives a lot of advice without asking questions or else she asks irrelevant questions, and sometimes she gives reckless advice," Lacassin complains. "How can she know what's best for someone by talking to them for three minutes?"

As Orman herself points out, all her responses are delivered off the cuff, with no advance preparation, the same way that she now responds to this interview, with brazen confidence. "This is not brain science, folks. Obviously it's a whole different story when you're talking about multi-millionaires, complicated estate planning, or business succession issues. But money is just not as complicated for the average American. The majority of people who call my show are not asking how to invest $500,000. How long does it take to figure out if someone has debt, is planning a divorce, or is being sold a life insurance policy they don't need?"

Like all self-help authors, Orman's message is pious, practical and simplistic: Respect your money and it will respect you. She urges people to dig deep into their past to uncover their hidden fear, shame and guilt about money. Frequently, Orman's tips can seem disingenuous; will you really achieve financial freedom if you pump your own gas, switch from olive oil to plain old vegetable oil, and stop buying those French baguettes that go stale in a day?

Orman's messages also often resonate with women, even if her questions to people she barely knows seem awfully intrusive. But many times her bluntness gets right to the point. A 50-year-old doctor's wife who doesn't know anything about her husband's investments may get asked, "What are you going to do when he leaves you for a 25-year-old nurse?"

And her prescriptions have touched a chord among debt-ridden Americans. Spiritual packaging aside, the cure she recommends is straightforward, as she herself acknowledges. "My message is simple: If you have debt, that needs to be your No. 1 priority."

Orman's confidence-her positive and at times patronizing tone-may be what galls advisors most, even as it endears her to her fans. Her toughness is hard-won and not something for which she feels compelled to apologize. She has paid her dues, but her path to success has not been typical of the Wall Street boy's club. She grew up relatively poor on the South Side of Chicago, where her father ran a string of unsuccessful chicken stands.

She worked her way through a social work major at the University of Illinois by clocking two waitress jobs and sharing a $120-a-month apartment with three other women and, oh yes, John Belushi. In fact, she shared a bedroom with Belushi and his fiancée. "The scenes you saw in Animal House were pretty much how it was at our apartment," Orman says with a laugh. "I was wild, but I was always an incredible worker."