Money Rules

Take care of financially fragile members.

February 26, 2013

Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky, author and financial editor on NBC’s "Today" program, lives by rules—specifically, money rules. She shared a few favorites during this morning’s Opening General Session:

Money is simple. People make it complicated. A person’s behavior around money is emotional, nonsensical, and maddening.

If you can’t see it and touch it, you can’t spend it.

Money rules are important because half of Americans are "financially fragile," Chatzky said. This means they couldn’t come up with $2,000 if they needed it within the next month to fix a leaky roof or pay a medical expense, for instance.

Data might tell us the recession ended in June 2009, she said, but clearly it didn’t come to a screeching halt. Consider this:

  • Household median net worth dropped 40% from 2007 to 2010, wiping away 18 years of saving and investing;
  • About 22% of mortgages and 10.7% of homeowners are underwater; and
  • Eight of 10 people know someone who has undergone a recent layoff.

The end of this recession wasn’t a single event—it has been more of an unwinding, a process, Chatzky said.

Chatzky, a fan of credit unions, said there’s always more to do for members, especially those who are financially fragile:

  • Provide budgeting and money management tools. Financial education works.
  • Engage with your members so you know how they feel about their financial situations.
  • "Upserve" rather than "upsell."

And think smaller about financial literacy instead of "trying to boil the entire ocean," Chatzky said.