By Liora Fishman
Noted financial writer Jean Chatzky transported a room full of women into the world of finances.
Chatzky’s May 3 presentation entitled “Your Money and Your Life: Five Skills Every Woman Needs To Get The Most Out Of Both” at the Rosenthal JCC in Pleasantville stressed the importance of financial independence for women. The evening kicked off with an explanation of the connection between money and immediate happiness.
“When buying something expensive, there is an immediate rush of dopamine in the brain,” Chatzky said. “Yet, by saving that money, one’s happiness will ultimately be greater with the financial stability it brings.”
She said research shows that by putting off a purchase by even one day, the motivation to buy that item diminishes. Chatzky recommended a personal trick she uses to coax herself out of making unnecessary purchases: visualization.
“I visualize my retirement. I can see that four-bedroom, gray-shingled colonial in Long Beach Island, N.J. and feel much better about passing up those shoes,” said Chatzky, who studied at the University of Pennsylvania and began her journalism career at Working Women magazine. Chatzky has also written for Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News and is now the financial editor for NBC’s Today Show.
For those who are savings challenged, Chatzky suggested becoming familiar with family finances. Women should understand their household’s bills, savings and retirement planning. With small changes, such as tracking receipts, they can see how much they are actually spending and try to limit purchases, a technique that Chatzky herself uses. She also recommended discussing finances and the economy to become better acquainted with the topics.
“The more I talked about money,” Chatzky said, “the better I got at understanding it.”
Planning for the future is important for everyone, but is even more critical for women. Due to the trend toward healthy living and medical advances, life expectancy will likely continue to increase, with many women living into their 90s. Addressing the concern of outliving one’s money, Chatzky implored the crowd of about 20 guests about the need for sound retirement planning.
“The financial challenges, though great for all people these days, are even greater for women,” she said. “We live longer, earn less and typically have to make smaller retirement funds last a longer period of time. That takes some planning.”
Chatzky asked the audience to change their spending and savings habits, a lesson she learned through her own difficult experiences. Knowing that her relationship with money came with practice and time, she said it is achievable for all, requiring resilience, optimism, positive attitude and visualization.
In addition to her column writing and Today Show appearances, Chatzky has also authored multiple books including her most recent publication, “Not Your Parent’s Money Book,” which strives to educate children about the basics of finances and savings. Her most recent project, “The Debt Diet,” helps participants with an online program that promotes personal savings goals to pay down debt.