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Fame & Fortune: Stefanie Powers

Bankrate: I know you are active with both environmental concerns and with animal concerns. What's the main objective of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation?

Stefanie Powers: Our focus is animal preservation, but in order to do that, we have to deal with human beings. Animals are not in danger except by humans. So the first focus in awareness is alternatives to destruction of habitat, which we teach at our education center. Our main education center copes with 10,000 students a year and we have an outreach program that currently copes with another four schools with 600 students in each. It's a very costly focus.

Bankrate: What's the biggest lesson you can teach about animal preservation?

Stefanie Powers: There isn't one single lesson. It's understanding renewable resources and providing for it. I know there's a commercial venture afoot in the world suggesting that we should keep our lives in ozone balance. So if you recycle your waste, you can create your own compost from biodegradable waste; if you can plant vegetation to produce oxygen to continually circumvent the damage that you are personally doing -- it's being conscious of that as an individual.

By saying it's too big an issue for any one person to affect, that's false and just being lazy.

Bankrate: Are you conscious of this when shopping in stores and going about your daily life?

Stefanie Powers: Yes. I teach all of that in Africa. Although as much as possible, it's the use of common sense in the way in which your household functions, because we waste so much just in scratch paper. We reuse every single paper that comes in the house as much as possible. That's being cost effective too: The notion of taking your own bags to the market so you're not contributing to the loss of more trees. I boycott the newspaper. I don't buy them because I believe they should be made from recycled paper. And until they are, I'm not going to buy them.

Bankrate: I remember you hosted a PBS series about finance three years ago. How did that come about?

Stefanie Powers: The show was to try to demystify the financial world, which has been held up as being this private club of the good ol' boys who were making all the decisions. And by the way, it still is. It was very important to realize that before the crash that happened about seven to eight years ago, the previous 10 years was an incredibly successful period. The ground was so fertile, all you had to do was throw seeds on it and they would grow, especially with all the techno stocks that were out there then.

There are still opportunities, but one must have a good hard look at what your priorities and expectations are -- the priorities of an 18-year-old compared to someone who is just getting married, or someone who is retiring. Everyone's priorities are very different.

Bankrate: Any other advice?

Stefanie Powers: We're living in a fabulous time. There's so much to learn. Get financially savvy -- it increases your independence and boosts your self-confidence more than anything. And read. I'm always reading about three books simultaneously. I think that we, as a society, don't read enough. All the lessons for the present are in the past.

Photo courtesy Retna Ltd.

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