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Rachael Ray's Survival Tips; Jobless, Homeless Living in Tents

Aired March 9, 2009 - 21:00   ET


ALI VELSHI, GUEST HOST: Tonight, going broke feeding your family?

Rachel Ray to the rescue.


RACHAEL RAY: Make your one master list and stick to it.


VELSHI: She's here with meals for a steal -- her recession-proof recipes cost less than $10. Your kids won't go hungry. Your budget won't go bust.

Then has it come to this -- a tent city in a state capital?

What's going on?

Are big banks about to go under?

Are your life savings in jeopardy?

You've got questions, our financial wizards have answers. Your 2009 financial survival guide is next on LARRY KING LIVE.


I'm Ali Velshi filling in for Larry tonight.

It's tough to eat healthy and on the cheap in the best of times.

But how do we all keep from packing on the recession pounds?

Well, tonight, help is on the way.

Joining me in New York is Rachel Ray, host of "The Rachel Ray Show." You also know her from her work on the Food Network and her hits, "40 A Day and 30 Minute Meals."

Rachel, thank you for coming in.


RAY: Thank you.

VELSHI: You're here to save us all. I -- I'm particularly concerned about having put on some recession pounds, because we're all kind of stressed right now. We're trying to sort of do more with less and certainly eating in a hurry.

You've got some great advice on that. But one of the things that's kind of interesting is you've said that your business -- this business empire you have is -- is kind of recession-proof.

RAY: Empire is such a evil word, Ali, I don't want to (INAUDIBLE)...

VELSHI: It is a little evil these days.

RAY: Yes. I mean well that's -- that's who we write for. You know, we've always -- at the magazine and certainly at the daytime show and at "30 Minute Meals," we have always tried to provide people with food that you can buy in a regular grocery store, affordable and nutritious.

So this is really an opportunity for us as a team, at all of our businesses, to really set our bar higher. At the show, we've been trying to do a ton of meals for a steal, meals under $10.


RAY: Every single month, we offer several of them in the magazine. And, you know, we use our children's Web site,, as a -- as a kind of a meeting place for families and their kids to figure out how to eat in this economy.

VELSHI: Well, I think Yum-o is going to be very important. We're going to talk about that.

But I want to talk about this Meals for A Steal. A family of four can eat for $10. You've got -- that's what those are the...

RAY: Under $10.

VELSHI: What are some of the tips there?

What are some of the consistent things that you do to eat for under $10?

RAY: Well, you know, I think that, in general, whether you're following these recipes or not, we need to go back to the way our grandparents prepared food. Instead of buying pieces of chicken, buy a whole chicken. You make that on Sunday, take the leftovers, roll that into fajitas, soups, stews, make your own stock. You've got to start thinking in bigger increments.

And then, you know, just little things like everybody has a loose change jar. It can be as simple as the whole family putting loose change into one common jar once a week or once every other week. You take it to the coin star at the bank or at the grocery store and make it your good food fund. That's the week that you can really stock up on lean meats and proteins, on veggies that you know your family likes and turn yourself into your own frozen food factory.

Every time that chicken breast goes on sale, stock up. Go home, put it in individual storage bags, pound it out nice and thin. It's a quick defrost. And that's -- you know, one of those little tips that can really go a long way.

VELSHI: All right. So you freeze -- I like that. You make yourself into your own frozen food factory.

RAY: Even with vegetables.


RAY: You know, if broccoli is on a great price this week, buy a ton of it, go home, blanch it a little bit of salted water, cold shock it, put it in a plastic food storage bag, done.

What's the better deal, buying your vegetables canned, buying them fresh?

RAY: Buying them at a local food market. You know, whether you're in a big city or a small town, farmers markets are your best bargain. You can buy direct from the small producer. And, you know, it's a great way to not only get organic, but get a great price on it.

And, you know, I don't use a ton of canned green vegetables, but certainly canned beans stretch a buck. They're a great bargain. They have a forever shelf life. Frozen vegetables are fine. But I just prefer the volume when I can buy my own veggies, cold shock them and pop them in the freezer.

VELSHI: One of the great things in the magazine, "Everyday with Rachel Ray," is that you do have people writing in and telling you what their experiences are.

Are you sensing this economic shift from your readers?

RAY: Absolutely. They write to us all the time. The thing that gets the most reaction in the magazine and on the daytime show is when we do a meal under $10, because people say thank you so much, I really need this. You can't even get takeout food for $10, you know what I mean?

So it's -- we're really trying, as a team, to arm people with more and more recipes like that.

VELSHI: Let's talk about takeout food.

Stressful times, parents are trying to save time and money, and, in many cases, that leads us to fast food, because it's cheap and fast. It's not necessarily good for you.

RAY: You know, the line between -- when you look at our youth, the line between obesity and childhood diabetes is so thin between children that are literally going hungry and children that are overweight.

VELSHI: Yes. RAY: And that's why, because accessible, you know, fast food -- the food that we can get most readily and at the best bargain isn't good for us. It's processed. I mean all things in moderation. Everybody can have a burger once in a while.


RAY: But, you know, when you make too much of your diet processed, that's the byproduct.

VELSHI: Yes. I'm a big junk food aficionado. But I do notice that at some of the places that I go to -- some of the fast food places that I go to...

RAY: Yes?

VELSHI: actually, if you were inclined to, could make some healthier choices.

What are some of those trends that you're seeing and what do you recommend to our viewers? RAY: Hey, I love a veggie sub at Subway. I love it. You know, I think that there is affordable fast food. If you're on the go, fine. Everybody needs to pick up a salad or a burger every once in a while. And you're right, there are -- there are healthy choices there. There are salads on every fast food menu out there. We just don't always...

VELSHI: Well, yes...

RAY: When you get in there and you smell it...

VELSHI: You're not looking for them when you -- right.

RAY: You know, we're all guilty of that once...

VELSHI: But you can make good choices for your family.

RAY: Absolutely. And, you know, you can mix in a little bit of anything. I think all things in moderation. If the kids really love fries, well, tell them they can have a few as long as they eat the veggies, too. And, you know, I think there's a lot of great strategies you can -- you can take with kids in getting them to eat healthier -- little small things like switching to whole wheat macaroni, whole wheat pastas. You bump up the fiber and the protein. It doesn't cost any more or less than the other product. And once you put sauce around it, they don't see it coming, you know?

VELSHI: It sounds like it's a lot like dealing with the rest of your financial life -- if there's a little bit of planning ahead of time, you can actually save a lot of money and you can find out where you're wasting money.

RAY: Absolutely. I think you've got to go into the store armed with a good attitude...

VELSHI: Yes. RAY: ...with coupons. And, you know, another really simple, simple thing. When you go grocery shopping, do not look at the price on the product. Look at the unit price.

VELSHI: Right.

RAY: Right there on the shelf, it will tell you the price per ounce or unit of measurement. And that's how you find your truest bargains. Also, look low and look high. The biggest bargains are the smallest brands and they can't afford those slotting fees to be in the middle there. So look up and look down.

VELSHI: So sometimes the products that are most profitable to a company are at eye level because someone's paid to put them there.

RAY: Correct. Yes.

VELSHI: Let's talk about planning for shopping.

When people are trying to trim their bills, what are the biggest mistakes they make and what are the biggest successes that they can have?

RAY: They go shopping hungry.

VELSHI: Right.

RAY: They make a lot of impulse buys. They shop too many times during the week.

If you can do your big shop -- and we have -- there's actually a section of this in the magazine. People really love this too...


RAY: ...where you can buy a whole week's worth of groceries, it has all of the menu planning and your one grocery list. Make your one master list and stick to it. You always go in to fill in a little bit or pick up a special bargain during the week or pick up a little fresh produce midweek.

But try and make that one master list, really think it out and try and plan one day of the week where you can do a big cook -- you know, where you can make sauce, soup, a whole chicken, a whole roast, so you can roll over the leftovers the rest of the week, whatever your day off is.

VELSHI: Are you a big leftover fan?

RAY: Absolutely. But I don't think they should taste like the first time. You know, I'm all for cooking a big chicken and then making chicken chili, chicken...

VELSHI: Right.

RAY: know, chicken pasta. VELSHI: Not having roast chicken for four days?

RAY: Exactly. Exactly.

VELSHI: All right. These are excellent tips. And we've got a lot more. You've got great stuff in the magazine and on the shows.

We want to discuss those tips and how they're going to help our viewers.

More money saving tips with Rachel Ray after the break.

Plus, why Rachel and Bill Clinton are teaming up.

Don't go away.



RAY: Because of the economy and the $4 gasoline, you know, and international food prices, we've decided to start a new section called Meal for A Steal. This meal is going to come to you for $7.14. This dish comes in around $9.50. Look at that, for $10.


That's a looker, huh?


VELSHI: Back now with Rachel Ray, one of the Food Network's hottest stars, best-selling cookbook authors, giving us tips on how to do a little bit better in tough times -- better for you, better for your family, stretch the dollar a little bit, but try to eat better.

You were involved with President Clinton on an initiative about obesity?

RAY: Yes.

VELSHI: Tell me about that.

RAY: His Alliance for A Healthier Generation is partners with our Yum-o organization. And our Yum-o organization has kind of three layers to it. We're there to be a grassroots organization at Yum- It's a place where families -- kids and their parents can go to swap recipes and get ideas about how to eat healthy and stretch a buck at the same time.

And then we have a wonderful scholarship program. And, you know, we try and get schools to do the right thing in the lunchroom. And if the schools follow the Alliance's guidelines, we pay back half of the money we give out in scholarships to the schools so that the schools can, you know, can do whatever -- they can go buy extra paper or notebooks or what have you. So we have an educational arm to it. We have the awareness arm. And then, you know, we want to eradicate hunger among American children in our lifetime, hopefully.

VELSHI: Yes. Tell me -- you mentioned this earlier -- that fine line between children who are going hungry and children who are obese.

RAY: Well, this is actually something that President Clinton educated me on. I really had no idea how close the line is, you know, for children that literally are living in shelters or going to food banks, they're going hungry. But the next step up is obesity, because those parents feel like they have no option. They feel the only thing they can afford to give their kids is the bargain foods you can get from fast food and processed food.

And, you know, I think that's -- that's one of the biggest goals is to break that myth, to tell them, you know, it's as simple as making -- taking that first step.

If you have an oven, if you have a stove, if you have access to a kitchen, you can give your children good food.

VELSHI: How do you make that switch if your kids are addicted to that kind of food, if they're addicted to processed and fast food?

RAY: You know what, children -- children love good food and they love being involved. They love feeling like they're helping. So if you make it a family goal, hey, you know, we're really trying to watch our money and, you know, mom and dad or brother and sister, we're trying to get a little bit healthier. Let's make this fun. You know, let's get to the kitchen together.

If you give children ownership of the meal, if you involve them in the process, they feel like they're problem solving and it becomes a great self-esteem builder. And, you know, for the transition, it can be as simple as taking things that they like, like macaroni and cheese, and using a whole wheat pasta instead of a plain pasta -- you know, adding in a little bit of nutritional value.

VELSHI: Do you tell them that you're doing it?

RAY: No. I don't think so.

VELSHI: Right.

RAY: You know, I think -- I think all...

VELSHI: Just let them enjoy it.

RAY: Exactly. I mean if they asked you directly, but, you know -- and my niece, you know, when she was little, she didn't like, you know, any of my fancy food. So if she'd ask me what was in something, I'd say, you know dinosaur boogers or something.

VELSHI: Right.

RAY: You know, I would give her a ridiculous answer and make her giggle.

RAY: Right.

RAY: She'd try it and then say you know what, that's not so bad.

VELSHI: I -- I did some grocery shopping this weekend in anticipation of this weekend -- you know, because you have to put your clock forward so some people change some...

RAY: I know.

VELSHI: ...change the batteries in there...

RAY: Spring forward. Oh.

VELSHI: their -- you know, their fire detectors and some people flip their mattress. I do grocery shopping.

RAY: You buy groceries?

VELSHI: I bought groceries. But...

RAY: Twice -- twice a year.

VELSHI: But what I haven't graduated to is understanding coupons. I get them in the newspaper every week.

Is this something we should be looking at now?

Are there some good values if you use coupons?

RAY: I think this -- this is the perfect time to be using coupons. I think, you know, whether you're somebody that has or somebody who lives on a very limited budget, it's always fun to get more for your money.

VELSHI: Right.

RAY: It's just cool. You feel good, you know?

And many times when I coupon shop, it's walking into the store like they're there for you, right there. All you've got to do is pick it up.

VELSHI: Pick it up and take it.

RAY: Pick it up and take it.

VELSHI: You know, one of the things in your magazine that I really enjoyed and "Everyday with Rachel Ray," is you've got the Supermarket 101 column, just sort of factoids about supermarkets.

RAY: Yes. And it gives people neat tips on how to save money when they go shopping.

VELSHI: Yes. And one of them was about buying in bulk, particularly with nuts.

Is that the case for everything?

RAY: Everything.

VELSHI: Because, you know -- is everything always cheaper?

Because I've heard some people say that people are so convinced that that's the case, that sometimes the biggest one isn't the cheapest.

Is that your experience?

RAY: No, not -- I think it's absolutely true. When you buy in bulk or you buy a generic name, you have to read the label and make sure that the quality is the same. But, yes, I think it's -- it's truly a bargain.

VELSHI: One of the things that you -- you spoke to the first lady, Michelle Obama, I guess, about a year ago, before she was first lady.

RAY: Um-hmm.

VELSHI: What do you think that -- what influence can they have in these tough economic times, with kids in the White House, with sort of emphasis on cooking...

RAY: Well, I was just saying, I think that the opportunity is really for the children to get involved and become ambassadors for good health and good eating.

VELSHI: Right.

RAY: You know, a movement like...

VELSHI: That's a lot of pressure for these little kids.

RAY: Yes, but this is fun, you know?


RAY: And a movement about making our kids healthier as a whole really has to live and die with the kids. You know, you have to make good food as cool as the food that's not so good for them.

VELSHI: Something I heard you say recently on television, you reportedly earned about $18 million a year. And you were actually saying...

RAY: Wow!


VELSHI: ...that makes you a little sick.

RAY: It does. Yes.


RAY: First of all, I don't even know if it's true. And I -- you know, I try and give it away as quick as I get it. I just -- I don't live comfortably being comfortable, you know what I mean?

VELSHI: So you've started making money doing what you -- ones that you enjoy doing?

RAY: I started the Yum-o charity and I -- you know, I literally -- I live the same as I did many, many years ago.

VELSHI: So (INAUDIBLE) it could become a barrier, if you -- if you start living that life, you're not catering to that audience?

RAY: It's -- well, I don't have fun living like that.


RAY: You know, if I go to a really fancy restaurant, people always look funny at me because I laugh too loud and I have a goofy voice. And, you know, I would just rather go grocery shopping and go home and make my dinner. You know, that's -- that's how I like to live. I have the same pair of Adidas sweats, you know, for 15 years. That's what I go grocery shopping in, the same ripped jeans. And, you know, I'm just more comfortable in -- in my own skin, so.

VELSHI: Well, you're having a lot of fun helping people stretch the dollar a little bit and cook some good food.

Thanks for being with us, Rachel.

RAY: Thank you.

VELSHI: A real pleasure to have you here.

RAY: A big fan.

VELSHI: Well, the only people laughing at the lousy economy right now might be the gang at "Saturday Night Live."

We'll see what they've been up to in 60 seconds.


VELSHI: They say that humor is the best medicine. If that's true, then here's a big dose to fight off the financial headaches.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earlier today, I proposed that the federal Treasury set aside $420 billion. This $420 billion will be placed in a special fund and will go to the first individual who comes up with a workable plan to solve the banking crisis. (LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if you have such a plan or know of someone who does, you can call the number on the screen below.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are you, OK?


What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened was you made Barack Obama angry. And when you make Barack Obama angry, he turns into the Rock Obama.




AIG, you need more money?


Forty billion?

Uh-huh. Well, You listen to this...



VELSHI: The Rock Obama.

Next, we're leaving the laughs behind and we're taking a serious turn. We'll go to Sacramento's tent city. Yes, it's that bad for a lot of Americans.


VELSHI: And we're back on LARRY KING LIVE.

There is a tent city that has sprouted up in Sacramento, California.

We're talking now to Kevin Johnson.

He's the mayor of Sacramento.

He's joining us from that tent city.

Mayor Johnson, thank you for joining us.

Tell us about where you are. I see, obviously, tents around you. Give us a sense of what's going on around you.


Well, we're in Sacramento, California. And we're along the American River. And right outside the American River, you can see these tents -- these camp sites behind me. And it just really goes to show that our homeless population is growing in our community and we have to get a much better handle on it.

VELSHI: How big is this?

How many people are there?

JOHNSON: We have over 200 people that are, unfortunately, camping out along the river. And I think what's happening in our city is we have to make sure that we have tough love. We have to find a balance being compassionate on one hand, and then also a zero tolerance. These are safety hazards, not just for the homeless population, but for the people who want to enjoy the river.

VELSHI: Who are these people?

Are they individuals?

Are they families?

JOHNSON: I think they come from all walks of life. There used to be a day where we thought a certain profile of the homeless population was one way. It's expanding. It's much broader than it used to be. Your seeing people who have lost their jobs, who have also lost their homes.

And when their homes have been foreclosed on, they can't find the shelter and the housing first that they would ideally like to have. So they're out here camping.

And then you're also seeing people that are renters and their landlords have lost their homes. And as a result, they're out here homeless, as well.

VELSHI: Interesting, that story about the people who have been renting who are affected by foreclosures is not one that gets told a great deal.

Mayor, why are these people camping?

Why are they not in shelters if they're -- if they're homeless?

JOHNSON: I think, you know, we typically would love to see these folks in home -- in shelters. But what's happening right now is that the increase in shelters have increased fourfold. So, A, there's not space. Number two, a lot of these people have pets and do not want to abide by the rules that go on in shelters. And then lastly, unfortunately, a lot of people don't feel comfortable in shelters. And I think that's why the tough love concept is important, that we've got to be compassionate on one hand, but we cannot have these folks living along the river.

It's a safety hazard, again, not just for them. Let me give you an example. If a fire breaks out along the river and you call the fire department, they challenges getting in. So there's an access problem. And then number two, they don't -- there's no address, so they don't know exactly where to go. And we just can't not afford not to have this in our city.

VELSHI: What is there in terms of water and sanitation in this area where they're camping?

JOHNSON: No water, no sanitation. We're not a true tent city yet. I do believe that we, as a city, need to be looking at a tent city as an option. It should be one of many options to fight the homeless challenges that we're having in our community. But this is not something that's sanctioned. We need a designated area that where we can provide water and decent, you know, sanitation and certainly waste opportunities so that we don't have debris and things like that building up along the river, which is unfortunate for everyone.

VELSHI: So you're saying that it's possible that there could be a permanent solution to this -- or at least a longer term solution -- in an area that you identify, that you can provide services and maybe security?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. I'd like -- you know, it's not -- you know, a tent city is not going to be a panacea. It's not going to solve our homeless population challenges that we're having. But it could be one of many strategic approaches that we can do, that we can take on here as a city.

I would love to see our city explore a designated area in our city where these folks here along the river would have a designated area. We have a tent city. We have three rules -- no drinking, no alcohol and no violence.

If you violate those three rules, then you're going to get, you know, unfortunately, evicted from the tent city. You also have this particular tent city really governed by the people that live there. And that certainly could be done.

And then, lastly, our concern has to be a reasonable approach, because if we have an effective tent city, you're going to have -- it's going to be a magnet. You're going to have people from all over who want to come. We've got to have a cap on it and we've got to spread the challenge throughout our region and our other local jurisdictions, not just the City of Sacramento.

VELSHI: Mayor, very quickly, do you think there's any that the -- the Obama administration is doing that is going to alleviate this problem at all or slow the growth of this tent city behind you?

JOHNSON: You know, absolutely. They're dealing with unemployment. They're dealing with foreclosures.

Let's be specific here in terms of homeless population. In the economic stimulus package, there's $2 billion that are going to go neighborhood stabilization programs that help us deal with people who've lost their homes.

In our community here in Sacramento, we're going to get an increase of $2.3 million to be able to help offset some of the homeless challenges.

So I'm very thankful for the economic stimulus package. It's the first step. It's not going to solve it all. We have to solve it locally here in our jurisdiction.

VELSHI: Mayor Kevin Johnson from Sacramento, thanks very much for joining us tonight. An interesting story. We'll continue to keep track of it.

JOHNSON: Thanks, Ali.

VELSHI: All right. Coming up, your questions and calls about money. Go to and click on blog to tell us what you think. We'll share some of your comments later in the show.

And take our quick vote -- do you dine out less often because of the economy?

We're right back.


VELSHI: We have more people unemployed than we've had in this country for a very long time. You just saw a picture of a tent city. People are getting more and more hopeless. But we have some ideas for you. Joining me now is Marcus Buckingham. You've seen him before. He's an expert on personal strength and productivity. He's joining us now to talk about what you can do. He's got a new book out called "the One Thing You Need to Know" and "Go Put Your Strengths to Work."

An excellent idea right now. Marcus, we can use all of the help that you can give us. You saw the story. I was just talking to Mayor Johnson in Sacramento about a tent city. Boy, it's hard enough when you lose your job, but to lose your home and be living in a tent, how do you even start from there to rebuild?

MARCUS BUCKINGHAM, CAREER COACH: Well, in the -- the two things that are most challenging for you, of course, is the feeling that you're losing control. AIG gets bailed out. We don't know why. Bear Stearns failed. We don't know why. So this feeling overall of a lack of control of our lives. And then that brings a feeling of uncertainty. Of we have a job, we don't know really how long I'm going to keep that job. If we've lost our job, we're not really sure if we can get it back.

So we've got two emotions here which are really draining us as a nation. The place you have to start with is you have to rally around your certainties. Despite all of the uncertainties, there are some things you can be certain of. You can be certain of what your unique strengths are. You can be certain of what your best and good intentions are. You can be certain of what your relationships are, in terms of your love for your spouse and your kids.

There are some things, despite all the craziness, that you can be certain of. I think that's where you start. You rally around your few certainties. That's where you begin.

VELSHI: Once you have rallied around your certainties, you have to confront the uncertainties. That is jobs that are disappearing in a pace faster than we've seen in more than a generation. What do you then do? Once you've gotten yourself a little grounded, what do you do? Do you take stock of your skills? Do you retrain? What happens next?

BUCKINGHAM: Well, I think the -- you know, the challenge when you lose your job is not just that you lose your income, you lose the psychic income as well. What's great about a job -- I know we complain about our jobs a lot or we complain about our bosses. What's wonderful about a job is it gives you a chance to express the best of yourself. If gives you a chance to take all that strength inside you, that potential, and release it and contribute it. You lose that.

But what's good, even when you lose your job, is there are still many opportunities for you to express the best of yourself and your community. You can sign up for a community college and learn a new skill. You can find a not for profit in your community where you can volunteer your strength. You can make sure that there are always three or four hours a day that you're devoting to finding a new job.

The worst thing you can do is withdraw and withdraw and withdraw. The next thing is take action. You must be always taking action. Not least for your own ability to have something to talk about in the job interview when it comes, but also for your own psyche benefit. You need to be contributing.

VELSHI: What about volunteering. If you don't have paid work available to you, does that help you keep up your skills and your spirit?

BUCKINGHAM: Absolutely. There's all sorts of different places, communities, people within your community that need your skills and need your help. Not to paint too rosy a hue on this, but at times like this, it gives us a chance -- as opposed to boom times, when you running as fast as you can just to pay the mortgage and your fear is we're not going to be able to get ahead. Now at least there is a chance to stop and perhaps think about places in the community that could benefit from your skills and your experiences and your strength. Maybe you didn't look at those because you were so busy in trying to get ahead in your job. But now is a time to be able to volunteer more, contribute more.

VELSHI: Right, the opportunity cost of doing that is lower right now. Marcus, you're so much about letting people feel fulfilled in their own careers, or guiding them when they feel unfulfilled. In this kind of environment, where unemployment is getting higher and jobs are being lost, what do you tell people who say, I'm not really loving my job. I don't think this is the one I'm in for the long run. I'm looking to change. Do you tell people to just stay put right now?

BUCKINGHAM: I think right now it would be a chance for you to knuckle down. Now you have an awful lot of people out of work, of course. That number is probably going to grow. We're at 8.9 percent right now. In a year's time, you fast forward, I bet we're around 10 percent. So probably it's not the time now to say, in a Diva-ish way, I need my job to fit the perfect combination of my unique strengths. Probably now is the time for you to figure out how you can use the best of yourself to make the greatest contribution to your peers and your colleagues and your customers. Now is not the time to be a diva. Now is the time to be a volunteer, at your company or outside of the company.

VELSHI: Marcus, in an environment like this, we can so easily tell people, particularly if they're young, wait this out, there are economic cycles. Things will get better. What happen if you're over 50 or over 55, losing your job. You've seen your home price deteriorate. Maybe you lost your home or you're seeing your retirement suffer in the stock market. What kind of advice can you give people to keep them going?

BUCKINGHAM: The first thing is be optimistic. This is a cycle. It will come back. That's one of the great things about America, it's a very flexible labor market, as compared to say Germany or Japan. We will bounce back. It may take a year. Hopefully you have your finances set that there is some opportunities for you to wait this out. But it will come back.

The second thing I would say is take a platform job. Be prepared to go down in your expectations of what your job should be. If you were earning 100 grand a year last month, maybe next month you are going to have to think of a job that pays you half of that. That doesn't mean you're settling. Everybody's career goes up and down. It's not just one step up.

Even if you take what I would call a platform job, a job that gives you an opportunity for a platform for your next move, think about what you can derive from that job, what experiences you can get, what learnings you can bring. For everybody in this country, there will be an opportunity for you to take a role somewhere that gives you a chance to make a contribution. It's what's great about this country. I think most people, whether you're 18 or 55, there's an opportunity for you to make a contribution.

VELSHI: Platform job, what a great idea. Marcus Buckingham, the country and the world needs your optimism. Thank you for being with us. Marcus Buckingham is an expert on employee productivity. Next, the money wizards. You've got questions, they've got answers. There's help out there. It's coming your way.


VELSHI: I'm Ali Velshi, sitting in for LARRY KING LIVE tonight. We're talking about money. We're taking your questions. We have the experts on hand right now. We've got Farnoosh Torabi. She's the senior correspondent for the She's the author of "Your So Money, Live Rich Even When You're Not." Jean Chatzky is a personal finance expert. She's a "New York Times" best-selling author. Her new book just came out today, "The Difference, How Anyone Can Prosper Even in the Toughest Times." We're going to talk about that book. Don Peebles joins us as well. You've seen him before. He's the chairman and CEO of the Peebles Corporation. He's the author of "The Peebles Path to Real Estate Wealth." He joins us from Miami. Thank you to all of you for being here.

Jean, I want to start with you. You have a book out at a time when people need guidance on personal finance and finance issues. But you've taken a very different approach than one we've typically seen.

JEAN CHATZKY, PERSONAL FINANCE EXPERT: This is a prescription to get people from a life of financial struggle to a life of financial security. And, yes, it's different because it calls on you to dig deep and tap in to your optimism, your resilience, things that we're born with but that we don't necessarily use or use well enough. Those things will get you there.

VELSHI: That is going to help us do this. I want to play something for you that we heard from a man who many people think is one of the finest investors on the planet, Warren Buffet. Here's what he to say about this economy today.


WARREN BUFFETT, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: It's falling off a cliff. And not only has the economy slowed down a lot, people have really changed their behavior like nothing I've ever seen. Luxury goods and that sort of thing have just sort of stopped. And that's why Wal-Mart is doing well and maybe doing poorly. But there's -- there's been a reset in people's mind.


VELSHI: Warren buffet is generally a very optimistic, positive person. So are you.

CHATZKY: Absolutely.

VELSHI: Did we really have to hear that from him?

CHATZKY: I think we did. In part, he's taking a step back from that positive piece that he wrote in the "New York Times" a few months ago.

VELSHI: Right.

CHATZKY: He also made the point today, fear comes quickly; confidence comes back a little bit more slowly. But we heard him say, if he was a 40-year-old investing in the market, he would understand that the stocks that he was buying today, if bought wisely, would be the stocks that secured his retirement down the road. VELSHI: We talked to you when your book came out, called "Live Rich Even When You're Not." We need your advice right now. What do we do? Right now, a lot more people are feeling poorer than when you first came out with this. How has your advice changed?

FARNOOSH TORABI, THESTREET.COM: It's changed in that there's more focus on values as opposed to price tags and this ideas, in America, especially, that we're going through a cultural paradigm, where idea that more is better, bigger is better, bigger price tags -- we want that. I want what the Jones' had. It's really about reassessing your personal values, as Jean so eloquently writes in her book, that it's really about talking about what is important to you. Those recession-proof personalities that we have that can really help us strive, not just now, but when this is all over.

VELSHI: Don Peebles, you are a man who has made your -- your money investing. You -- you're a wise and smart investor. What do you think of what Warren Buffet says and what my other guests are saying about how you should be behaving in this environment?

DON PEEBLES, REAL ESTATE EXPERT": I think Warren Buffet is the premiere investor. What he said, his strategy is buy when fewer people are buying, and sell when fewer people are selling. And the time to be greedy is when people are fearful. And when people are fearful, that's the time to be greedy. And right now, I think we're finding ourselves in a tremendous buying opportunity. We look at the stocks. They have been beaten up tremendously. Anytime you have companies like Citigroup selling at a dollar a share or General Electric stock, you need two certificate -- two shares of General Electric stock to buy a box of light bulbs. That tells you that things are out of whack here.

On the real estate side, we have some tremendous buying opportunities. That's why we're seeing volume pick up now. So I think people ought to look at this as an awakening, which it is. It's the end of the most recent gilded age. And now we're at a time going back to fundamentals, and back to basics and about quality. And I think now's the time for Americans to examine themselves. And if you've lost your job, now is the time to go and live your dream and go out and work for yourself or go into sales. Do something different. Now's the time for that.

CHATZKY: Two basics that Don mentioned that I want to pick up on. The first is saving money. That's basic number one. It's a big part of the difference. We've forgotten how to do it, because it doesn't feel as good as spending money. And, so, we've got to get back in there. Visualize the things that we really want for the future, try to save small amounts, because we can actually do that rather than trying to save for the big things.

And he just said, go for your passion. I disagree. Right now, I don't want to see people leaving their jobs. But you can learn to love what you're doing by forging a connection with people around you and finding the autonomy in whatever job you have. Don't give it up so fast right now. VELSHI: When we come back, we're going to find out from all three of our guests what you should be doing with your money. How you invest in the most uncertain environment that we have been in in a generation or longer. Your blogs are next. Go to and tell us how the economy is affecting you. We'll see you back here with my money wizards in 60 seconds.


VELSHI: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Ali Velshi, sitting in for Larry. Time now for your blogs. Let's check in with our blog correspondent David Theall. David, what are people saying tonight?

DAVID THEALL, LARRY KING LIVE PRODUCER: Listen, Ali, we have a good discussion on the blogs based on your earlier conversation with Rachel Ray. We have got a lot of people giving tips on how to run a household for cheaper expenses. We also have a question for you coming up here from somebody on the blog.

A lot of personal stories also on the blog tonight about people who have lost jobs and people who have found success after losing a job, including one from a lady who said she was homeless at one time. She and her husband own a couple of businesses and a couple of rental properties. And she said that she will never, ever be at the mercy of a bank again. She's giving advice to other people on the blog tonight.

Now for that question, this is all happening at Click the blog link. Jump into the conversation. For you, Ali, we hear from Morgan, who asks this question: "I moved my money into conservative stocks," says he. "When will we know it's the right time to start taking bigger risks for higher returns?"

VELSHI: That's the age-old question. When will you know? The problem, of course, David, is that by the time you know, the evidence might be out there. You might have missed all of that. One of the things that Jean said in the new book -- Jean, help me out quickly with this one. You have said you think people should have a strategy and should be invested?

CHATZKY: Absolutely, at all times. And the question I think for this blogger is how old are you and how much risk can you be taking at this time in your life. You don't want to completely pare back when you're in your 40s or in your 50s.

VELSHI: Jean, thanks so much. David, you're the only thing that I'm getting out of my conversation with Rachel Ray earlier in the show is that I'm getting hungry. But thank you for reminding me about that. David Theall on the blogs. The money experts are back right after this.


(NEWS BREAK) VELSHI: We're back with Don Peebles of the Peebles Corporation, the author of "The Peebles Path to Real Estate Wealth," with Farnoosh Torabi, the author of "You're So Money; Live Rich Even When You're Not," senior correspondent for, and Jean Chatzky has a brand new book out called "The Difference, How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times."

Jean, one of the things that's interesting about your book is you have actually studied these behavior patterns. If you want to change who you are, you have to understand your patterns when it comes to money.

CHATZKY: That's right. I studied 5,000 people to look at their patterns. The interesting thing is, a lot of these traits are things we're born with, but they lie dormant because we don't practice them. We've got President Obama talking every time he gets the chance about how we have to be more resilient. This book actually tells you how to do that. It's not just that you have to do it, but you have to learn to control the things you can control. You have to get in the game and really be able to come back when you're kicked to the curb, like so many of the people you've been talking about all show.

VELSHI: Farnoosh, you talked a lot about real estate. Is it a good time for people to be buying real estate.

TORABI: There's a 8,000 dollar tax credit, which is very, very tempting. But you still have to be careful. I've talked to a lot of young adults, actually, who are just fascinated by the opportunities right now in real estate. They're not going at it alone. They're getting the advice of their parents, who might have been there and done that and real estate advisers.

Maybe Don can chime in on this as well. I think that, yes, there are opportunities, especially with foreclosures right now and houses on the short sale market. You still have to be smart about it, have that down payment, have that strong credit score, and really know your goals. Do you want to live in this house forever or do you want to make an investment? I think you better want to live there forever.

VELSHI: Don Peebles, that's your invitation to chime in. Is this a good time for people to be investing, particularly if they can take advantage of a short sale or a depressed market or a foreclosure?

PEEBLES: There are some tremendous opportunities out here. But one of the things is it's time to proceed cautiously. Real estate, remember, is a long-term investment. It's not a short term commodity. So when someone buys a home, they ought to be looking to stay in it for five, seven years. If they do that, it's now a good time to buy. Affordability is at an all-time high. We are at a point where the average household, earning the median income, can afford to pay 158 percent of the median price of a home. That's a tremendous amount of opportunity here to buy.

One of the things, though, to be cautious about is right now there are 19 million vacant condos and single families homes in America and only about six million of those are on the market. One of the things I talked about earlier, about taking this as an opportunity to follow your passion -- I'm not talking about people who have their jobs. I'm talking about the 2.6 million Americans that lost their jobs in the last four months. I'm talking about the 4.4 million Americans that have lost their jobs since this recession started. Many of those jobs aren't coming back.

So now's a time to go into real estate, sales, or any other kind of business. As the president has said, it's the American entrepreneur who's going to help pull America out of this.

VELSHI: Jean's got a topic. I'm going to ask you to hold it. I'm going to save it for our audience coming back. We're going to answer your questions about money when we come back with our money wizards. Stay with us. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.


VELSHI: We're taking your questions for our money guests. Let's go to Hayward, California. You're on the line.

CALLER: Yes, I'm 57 years old, unemployed 14 months, in the same field of work all my working life. Now I'm considering a government training program to change careers. But concerned that the entry level salary is below or the same as unemployment. And wanted your viewpoint.

VELSHI: Interesting.

CHATZKY: You have to start somewhere. And it's the entry-level salary. And so if you get that job, and you do well in that job, you will grow in that job and you'll be able to be on a new earnings trajectory. We have to forget that our house used to be worth this or that our portfolio used to be worth that. It is what it is. Let's start fresh and make the difference in our own lives.

I was trying to make the point before, I got a call from a woman in Sacramento, where that tent city is, who was unemployed, felt awful, but went out, started her own business cleaning out some of these foreclosed homes. That's resilience. That's what the president is talking about.

VELSHI: Opportunities for small businesses in this kind of environment, isn't it?

TORABI: Absolutely. Don and I are chiming in at the same time. Especially with young entrepreneurs. I wish the stimulus had more of a budget for small business owners, because we're finding that they're sort of like arms up in the air, what about me? The Small Business Administration is getting some funding. I would suggest check with your municipality, check with your city. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has offered a huge sort of small business stimulus, if you will, where he wants to keep the financial jobs here. So he's starting incubators. He's starting a venture capital firm to give money to small businesses. I think that's a wonderful thing. Check out your municipality and your state programs.


PEEBLES: Yes, I think this is the time of great opportunity. One of the things is we are going to have to retrain ourselves as Americans. Many of these jobs aren't coming back. And the president and his stimulus program has put in 4.5 billion dollars for job retraining. Also, a recession is a good time to start a business in many regards. I started my business -- I built my first office building in 1989, at the peak of the market. And then we hit the recession in 1990, with the Savings and Loan crises, very similar fundamentally to what we're going through now. Now is just worse.

And we ended up growing as a business ten-fold. By the time the recession was over, we hit our stride and ended up becoming a national company, with projects of over four billion dollars. So there's a tremendous opportunity. And I think it's important that we as Americans recognize that it's not going to be easy. It's not supposed to be easy. The old saying no pain, no gain, that's the way it works. And the fact is, scared money never wins. So you have to be willing to go out here and take a risk and get control of your own lives. That's what time is -- that's what we need to do now.

CHATZKY: You have to do this for yourself. You are the only one who has the ability to make this sort of a difference for you, because, as Don was saying, and Farnoosh, the government's not doing this for us. We have to do it for ourselves.

VELSHI: All right. This is an important discussion. Thank you all for being here. Jean Chatzky is the author of "The Difference," brand-new book, "How Anyone Can Prosper Even in the Toughest Times." Farnoosh Torabi is the author of "You're So Money, Live Rich Even When You're Not." Don Peebles, the author of "The Peebles Path to Real Estate Wealth."

You get more from all these people by reading their fabulous books. Thank you to all of you. Go to any time and tell us what you think about this show or any other. Click on blog and start typing.

Tomorrow, Joy Behar, Robin Givens and Denise Brown on domestic abuse. What do they think about Rihanna? Get their scoop on LARRY KING LIVE, Tuesday. Thanks, Larry, for letting me sit in for you tonight. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."