Inside the Foundation  
CUs Stand on the Right Side of the Consumer, Chatzky Says
Friday, February 7, 2014 8:00 AM

Jean ChatzkyWhen it comes to our relationship with money, financial guru Jean Chatzky says many of us are “a hot mess.” Chatzky was the keynote speaker yesterday at the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation’s FOCUS Summit, which concludes today.

During her presentation, Chatzky shared some startling statistics. Half of all Americans, she told the audience, are financially fragile. A significant percentage of women, African Americans, Hispanics, elderly and the poorly educated lack financial education, and fewer women than men have an emergency savings fund, are comfortable with their debt load or regularly balance their checking account.    

“I am a fan of credit unions. You stand on the side of the consumer and the credit union industry has done a tremendous amount to aide Americans – particularly during the economic recession,” she told FOCUS Summit attendees. “But I know we can do more.”

Chatzky, who has authored eight books; is the financial editor for NBC’s “Today” show and is well known for helping millions of people battle increasingly problematic debt, says there are five steps to achieving financial security:

  1. Make a decent living
  2. Spend less money than we make
  3. Save and invest what you don’t spend
  4. Protect your financial life by being adequately insured
  5. Give back – support a cause that is meaningful to you

According to Chatzky, rules save us from chaos, and during her address, she highlighted some of the “rules” from her Money Rules book:

  • Personal finance is more personal than finance. She was quick to point out that when it comes to personal finance, there isn’t a one size fits all approach.
  • Money is simple, people make it complicated. “Just like love, money makes us do crazy things,” she told the audience. “Logic and reason are thrown out the window.”
  • If you can’t see it, you can’t touch or spend it. She encourages consumers to take advantage of employer-sponsored 401Ks and have a percentage of their paycheck directly deposited into a savings account.
  • Save for something. Chatzky believes it’s important to make goals visual so that we can satisfy the need for immediate gratification.

“Most people aren’t money experts, and that is why they need you,” she said. “You are in a service business, and you need to be able to anticipate people’s needs.”