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Posted: February 09, 2009

Financial expert Jean Chatzky to headline Choices fundraiser

Chatzky will kickoff annual Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado event on Thursday

Dan Ray


Jean Chatzky

You may have seen her bright and early on the "Today Show." Or you may have seen her doling out financial advice on the "Oprah Winfrey Show." On Thursday, you can see author, journalist and financial expert Jean Chatzky give the keynote speech at the 20th annual Choices fundraiser for the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado.

Chatzky’s financial expertise has reached the homes of millions of Americans on television and through her series of best-selling advice books. Her 11:30 a.m. speech will kick off the Choices fundraiser at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. The event is sponsored by the Federation's Jewish Women's Philanthropy Center.
ColoradoBiz recently spoke with Chatzky about her upcoming appearance and about her message to Americans, in the midst of the current economic downturn.

Q: These are proving to be tough times for people working in virtually all industries and in almost all economic situations. Can you offer any guidance to people from all these different demographics – from veteran investors to those facing serious debt and income troubles?
A: What applies to anybody right now is that this is a time when you need to worry about controlling the things you can control. We can't control the market. We can't control gas prices or milk prices or what ends up in the stimulus package. What we can control is whether we approach our finances with a list of priorities that really apply to us: saving more or spending less or protecting the things we have now. Whatever it is, it needs to be approached consciously. But it's impossible for some expert on TV to tell you what your priorities are.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your new book, "The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times," which is set for release on March 10. Assuming that anyone has the capability to prosper, is there really one difference between the prosperous and the not-so prosperous or are there many of them?
A: The Difference is not your typical financial book. I started to wonder why it was that some people had an easier time than others. So I pulled records on 5,000 different people to see if I could discover which habits did them good and which maybe did them harm. I found that it does have something to do with simply good financial habits. Saving is really the dirty financial secret of the rich. But there are a number of other skills that people are born with but stay dormant in a lot of people. Resilience, aptitude and connectedness are some of these.

Q: Do you have any particular messages you hope to give to the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado or to women in general?
A: Being Jewish is important to me and my children and the way that I live my life. So I'm thrilled to be speaking to this organization. And women are a very important audience. We come at the subject of money with a slightly different point of view. Women are different; our brains don't like to take risks as much as the male brain likes to take risks. What we need to learn is how to take appropriate risks. To do this we need the right sort of knowledge and information.

Q: What about you? How have you remained successful? Have you always possessed the traits outlined in your book or has is been more about skills acquired along the way?
A: Some of them were innate but most were things I picked up along the way. I worked on Wall Street and learned a lot during my time there. As a journalist, I am just one of those journalists that is happiest to spend a day reporting and learning new information, which is one of the reasons why I've been able to continue reporting in this area for so long.

There is no cost to attend the event, but a minimum individual gift of $200 to the community's 2009 Annual Campaign is requested or $36 for teens 13 to 18, $54 for women 19 to 21, and $100 for women 22 to 25 and seniors on a fixed income. Chatzky will be speaking at the Colorado Convention Center's Korbel Ballroom. For more information visit: 

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Dan Ray is a graduate student at the University of Colorado School of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

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