May 16, 2009 in Features

WEALTH of knowledge

Financial guru jean Chatzky brings words of wisdom to women helping women event
By The Spokesman-Review
Photos by JESSE TINSLEY photo

Preschoolers Isaiah, right, and Angelica follow along with a book on tape at the Liberty Park Child Development Center in Spokane Wednesday. The center has received grants from Women Helping Women.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Women Helping Women

Some information about this year’s luncheon:

What, where and when: The 17th annual Women Helping Women Luncheon will take place Monday at the Spokane Convention Center in downtown Spokane. Doors open at 11:30; the event begins at noon. Expected: more than 2,000 people.

Cost: $125 a person. The luncheon was famous – or infamous – in its early years for asking participants for $100, something unheard of in the early 1990s.

“We haven’t raised the price for 16 years,” said Trish McFarland, board president for Women Helping Women. “We have such a strong need, and people can pay it over time.”

Where the money goes: Women Helping Women gives grants each year to nearly 30 Inland Northwest organizations. The $300,000 raised last year, for instance, was distributed to programs that help homeless kids go to camp, provide after-school homework assistance to low-income children, find mentors for children whose parents are in prison, and educate women and adolescent girls on preventing “relational aggression.”

Look for: A tribute to Women Helping Women founder Vivian Winston, who brainstormed the idea for the fund with other community women nearly 20 years ago.

Winston died March 20 at age 97. “There will be a big hole where she used to be,” said McFarland.

Scholarships in Winston’s name help young mothers finish their college educations.

There’s still room: Call Women Helping Women at (509) 328-8285 or go to

When Women Helping Women booked its speaker early last fall for Monday’s luncheon, no one knew then how the economy’s freefall would change our culture. This year’s speaker, Jean Chatzky, has had a busy year writing and commenting on the crisis – and what it means for consumers. She’s the financial editor for NBC’s “Today” show and a contributor to “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Her latest book, “The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times,” was published in March. Here are some of Chatzky’s ideas excerpted from “The Difference.”

•In a survey of 5,000 individuals, Chatzky discovered that those who are wealthy or financially comfortable share most of these characteristics: They have college degrees, socialize with friends at least once a week, are married, exercise two to three times a week, read newspapers, dedicate money every month to savings, retirement, life, disability and long-term care insurance, and “most wealthy individuals report that their parents read to them when they were young.”

•Wealthy and financially comfortable people tend to figure out their career paths early. “Today it’s expected that Americans will – over a life of work – have around 12 different jobs in four different fields. The wealthy and financially comfortable have fewer.”

•People who live paycheck-to-paycheck, or are mired deep in debt, blame their financial troubles on bad luck, but the wealthy do not attribute their success to good luck. “They got there by landing a good-paying job and sticking with it. Or by creating, as an entrepreneur, a good-paying job for themselves.”

•Wealthy and financially comfortable people are grateful. “Grateful people are more trusting of people they don’t know, often viewing strangers as having relatively good motives, rather than being suspicious of them. Some people operate on the theory that in this world, we get what we deserve. Grateful people don’t. They operate on the theory they get more than they deserve. As a result, they are constantly doing things for others – often with no payback in clear sight – that make good outcomes happen.”

•Spending money on experiences makes people happier than spending money on things. Things pale over time. Experiences get better in the retelling.

Reach Rebecca Nappi at (509) 326-7435 or

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