Chatzky wants to show you how to open a door to a hidden path to prosperity. The implied promise: By applying the knowledge herein, you can change your life. Her playing field is the personal finance arena, and she knows it well. As the author of numerous books, including Make Money, Not Excuses, the financial editor for NBC’s Today show and host of her own daily radio show on the Oprah & Friends channel on Sirius XM Radio, she has spent considerable time honing her clear, straightforward money mantra for regular folks.
In The Difference, Chatzky reveals the characteristics of the wealthy to show you how to gain riches in your life by following their example. Each chapter is prefaced by a story of someone who has done “precisely what you want to do,” she writes. “They’ve harnessed the power within and used it to reach the same goals you have: financial comfort and long-lasting wealth.”
Yes, in fact, the rich are different than you and me, to paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald. “They are different in their attitudes, behaviors (financial and non-financial), personalities and goals,” Chatzky writes.
They are more passionate, more optimistic, more resilient, more visionary, more connected to others, have greater confidence in their relationships and their overall life, and they are grateful for their good fortune. “The good news: These are all things you can learn,” she cheers.
Each chapter has exercises to help you “uncover your nascent talents” and master the habits you’ll need in order to see the difference in your life, but nothing is going to work unless you truly want it. The Difference is about “believing.” “It’s about making your own luck, not taking no for an answer, and paying attention to the things you’re doing — both right and wrong — so you can accomplish more with fewer sidesteps in the future,” Chatzky writes.
To tap into the vital traits of the wealthy, you have to choose The Difference, “just like you choose to exercise or eat healthier. It might start with ambition and desire, but you have to be able to distinguish your goals from fantasies.”
You have to be willing to sacrifice. For example, changing jobs requires sacrificing free time to update your résumé, network and interview. It means being willing to bear the unease that comes with starting again as the new kid, even if you are the new kid in the corner office, she writes.
Chatzky’s book is imbued with an inspirational, can-do spirit, which makes a nice antidote to these uncertain economic times. Although her self-help advice typically amounts to simple, generic money moves you’ve probably heard before, when paired with her gusto, it somehow seems worth hearing again.
Chatzky’s credo: “The Difference: Work hard, save every day, when life kicks you to the curb, find a way to get back up again. Practice, practice, practice.” Hard to argue with that.
Kerry Hannon is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.
‘The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times’, By Jean Chatzky, Crown Business, 273 pages, $24.95