Debt Advice By Jean Chatzky, The Smart Cookies Money Group

How some folks are managing debt wisely.

Smart Cookies

I received the latest copy of my Kappa Alpha Theta alumni magazine in the mail recently, and the cover story caught my eye. It was about a group of five women from Canada who had started a (money-oriented support) group called the Smart Cookies. Their goal, the article stated, was to meet regularly, be open about their debt and other money issues, and to be supportive of each other in getting rid of debt, earning more money, and making better financial choices.

Debt Advice By Jean Chatzky: Create A Money Group!

The idea for the Smart Cookies money group arose after one of the members and fellow Theta alumnus, Robyn Gunn, learned about the Debt Diet from the Oprah Winfrey Show. Gunn was particularly inspired by one episode of the show, where Oprah had encouraged viewers to improve their financial situations by teaming up with others in similar situations. On, money coach Jean Chatzky had also outlined what a money group is, how to organize one, and what it can accomplish.

Chatzky suggested inviting people from different walks of life and experiences into the money group so that they can learn from each other. The group should pick topics to discuss in every meeting; it should track expenses and invite experts to talk. Chatzky also recommended that at every meeting, the coordinator (or organizer) should go around the circle and ask everyone how they are feeling about their finances that month, to discuss what have been their struggles and victories, and to review any good deals that they would like to share with others.

This idea resonated with Gunn, who said that at one point, she personally struggled with debt and overspending. But she wanted to face her financial responsibilities and took steps to improve her plight: so she decided to gather four other members to form a group. Their resolve was to dig themselves out of $40,000 of collective debt without ruining their lifestyles. At their six-month mark, they had made so much progress that Gunn submitted a progress report to the Oprah Winfrey Show, which was looking for follow-up success stories. They were invited to appear on the show, which then led to appearances on other TV shows, and interviews with major publications. The rest was history for Gunn’s money group, now called the Smart Cookies.

The Smart Cookies Money Group

The Smart Cookies, having put their money where their mouths are, now live debt free. They were able to quit their jobs to focus on their new mission of helping others improve their personal financial situations. They are now columnists for several newspapers, have their own television show in Canada, and have written a book entitled The Smart Cookies’ Guide To Making More Dough. They are now working on their second book and focusing on going international.

Visit to find out more about their recipe for success and to become a member of their site. Following are a few other morsels I gathered from the discussion on money groups:

  • Invite those into your money group whom you trust and like.
  • Share resources with other members (some groups even share household items and clothes!).
  • Start a vision board to keep your goals alive in your head.
  • Celebrate your successes whenever you meet your financial goals.

All in all, this is great advice for anyone who wants to get their finances in order. There’s strength in numbers, as they say! Or many heads can be better than one. 🙂

Contributing Writer: BEM

3 thoughts on “Debt Advice By Jean Chatzky, The Smart Cookies Money Group”

  1. Ingrid Leibrecht

    I am a single income working mom, 16 years widowed, and at this point of the journey I find myself in the worst financial position. I raised three successful, independent children in NJ on single income, and my youngest is in college for Physical Therapy in a Master’s Program at Ithaca College. I have been fortunate to have a steady employer at Honeywell International for the past 16 years, however this year in the economic turmoil, we have had mandatory furloughs, therefore this has impacted my net income. I do have a home, however paying the mortgage is a challenge with furloughs. I also have 2 part time jobs to add to my income. But I do really need some guidance and help. I purchased my home 4 years ago, what I thought was my American dream, but now is my nightmare. I rented for 12 years and finally purchased a home for my family. The equity is not there, but I would like to sell it. CAN YOU HELP!!! I need all the expert advise I can get . . .

  2. @Ingrid,
    Thanks for commenting on this site but we do not publish personal information on this site. Please visit the site to contact them if you so wish.

    Or one of our readers here may be able to offer you helpful suggestions. In my opinion, if you are having trouble with a mortgage and have exhausted all means to save it, there comes a point when you may have to walk away from it. But please consult a professional adviser before doing anything. I am not a professional adviser but can only offer opinions and tell you what I would do if I were in your shoes. I do not have the authority to offer you anything more than just my opinion.

  3. The best solution for debt concerns is to seek professional advice. Debt is a traitor and should be eliminated as soon as possible.

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