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Be the Chef in Your Own Financial Kitchen

Be the Chef in Your Own Financial Kitchen

March 2022 is Women’s History Month, which is a wonderful way to recognize the significant impact women have had and continue to have on how we live, work, and contribute to society. In 2010, Forbes published a list of the ten most influential women chefs. I'm going to take a few minutes to teach you about two of these amazing ladies and how their divergent expertise and approaches to cooking parallel key strategies for financial success.

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Making sophistication accessible.

For many of you reading this article, your exposure to Julia Child is limited to the hilarious Saturday Night Live skit from 1978. However, older Generation X and certainly Baby Boomers like myself will remember her classic show “The French Chef” and the thrill and pure joy of watching a true culinary genius break down the elegant cuisine that characterized traditional French cooking.

Mrs. Child, a prestigious Le Cordon Bleu graduate who died in 2004, co-authored the classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, an 800-page classic that still today guides home cooks to master sophisticated meals step-by-step. Julia Child left a legacy of empowering generations of amateur chefs by making sophisticated cooking techniques less intimidating and more accessible. Food Network and its offspring owe her a big thank you.

In terms of investing, you may believe that only rich women can access sophisticated advice, and you are limited to mass solutions like passive index funds and the target date mutual funds in your 401k. While those investments can be appropriate in specific circumstances, there are many more sophisticated options that you can and should consider.

The financial industry tends to focus on “high net worth” clients, but there are many advisors who prioritize working with “the mass affluent.” Having a trusted advisor who is a fiduciary – puts your interest first - can make all the difference. Make sure she takes the time to “deconstruct” each step in your financial plan, and that she doesn’t move forward with any investment strategy until you have enough information and understanding to make an educated decision.

[Related: Prioritizing Your Health and Wellbeing Will Propel You to Entrepreneurial Success]

Success without pretense.

In contrast to Julia Child’s elegant accent and complex recipes, Rachael Ray’s culinary success in large part comes from her casual demeanor and relaxed cooking style. On Ray’s signature Food Network show, “30 Minute Meals,” her recipes are disarming and accessible rather than intimidating.

Ray invites viewers to relax and be willing to make mistakes and be flexible with ingredients. Her infamous “garbage bowl” tip is a great timesaver and one I’ve incorporated into Food and Finance with Shelley videos. When you watch her on TV – she also has a daily talk show – it’s obvious that Ray is the opposite of pretentious. In fact, she refuses to call herself a chef because she never had any formal culinary training.

Ray prioritizes giving us the confidence to take charge in the kitchen and the courage to put our own personal spin on flavor and ingredients. Her relaxed and “saucy” presentation style has created legions of fans of all ages.

Along the same lines, your financial plan should be comprehensive, but not intimidating or pretentious. Women especially are notorious for believing that they cannot manage their own finances, even though we live longer, own more businesses, and tend to oversee family spending.

Too often, our instinct is to defer to men for financial decisions, whether they be fathers, brothers, or husbands. Child and Ray invite us to claim our culinary power, and I invite you to trust yourself when it comes to understanding and making financial decisions. Trust your gut and find a fiduciary advisor who helps you feel comfortable, answers all your questions, and understands that it is her job to empower you as an equal partner in your financial success story.

Julia Child and Rachael Ray lived decades apart and took different roads to culinary success, but both had outsized influence in the world of food. Their success came from making cooking accessible and giving viewers the courage to step out of our kitchen comfort zones. Next time you feel like your financial success “recipe” is too complicated or pretentious, remember that you are the chef in your own financial kitchen.

[Related: Tips to Build Your Business Empire]


Shelley Leavitt Nadel, CFP®, CLTC®, LUTCF is the principal Financial Advisor and owner of Financial Success Strategies, LLC. where she and her team offer comprehensive planning services to professional women and those who love them. Currently, she is in her second year as Co-President of the Houston Chapter of Ellevate. Her newest venture is, where she presents cooking and financial tips to “make finance more digestible.” For more information or to schedule a call, you can reach Shelley at 512-662-6262 or

Securities offered through Lion Street Financial, LLC (LSF), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through Lion Street Advisors, LLC (LSA), Registered Investment Advisor. Insurance offered through Financial Success Strategies, LLC, not affiliated with LSF or LSA.

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