Kerry was left financially devastated by a divorce.

According to money expert Jean Chatzky, one of the most common excuses women make for not taking control of their money is "my husband takes care of our finances." It's an excuse that's all too familiar for 48-year-old Kerry.

Kerry was a single mom working two jobs and going to school full-time when she met her husband. About six months before they married, Kerry says her husband-to-be took responsibility for the bills and finances. She thought she hit the jackpot and would never have to worry about money again. "I felt like I had been rescued," Kerry says. "Who wouldn't want someone to just ride in and make things easier and better?" Kerry says she gave all the bills and statements to her husband without looking at them.

The family moved to St. Louis after her husband received a promotion, and they decided that Kerry could stay home full-time. "[I] kind of felt like I'd paid my dues and now it was going to be my turn to maybe smell the roses a little bit," she says.

Then, Kerry's world was completely shattered when she says her husband asked for a divorce without warning. The couple had been in deep debt, and Kerry was left with no money and nothing to call her own.
Jean helps Kerry create a financial plan.

For the first time in years, Kerry was forced to take a long, hard look at her bleak financial situation. Jean flew to St. Louis to meet with Kerry and help her start rebuilding from the ground up.

Before Jean arrived, Kerry had $60 in her checking account, $49 in her savings and had been borrowing from family members to get by. She was also forced to move out of her 3,000 square-foot dream home.

Still, Jean says there's a bright side—it's not too late for Kerry to start again. Finding a job is top priority, Jean says. Kerry says she needs a minimum of $2,000 a month to support herself. Jean figured that Kerry needs to find a job in which she will be able to earn $3,800 a month before taxes to support herself and start saving.

Get the four simple steps that Jean says can help anyone get richer.

Of that $3,800, Jean says Kerry needs to start saving $1,000 each month for retirement. If Kerry invests that money for 20 years, Jean says she can have more than $600,000 at retirement! "It's not too late for you," Jean says. "You can do this."
Kerry wants all women to open their own savings accounts.

Now that Kerry is back on the path to financial security, she wants every woman to learn from her experience. "I think the story is [about] hope. Jean has given me a tremendous amount of hope that it isn't too late and you can start over at any age if you have to. But certainly I would choose to do things much differently."

One thing Kerry wished she had done was to contribute money directly into a savings account in her own name. "I think that's the new feminism, to have a savings account in your own name," Oprah says.

Jean says anyone can open a savings account. "It's our little red sports car," she says. "And it's a myth that if you're not in the workforce, you can't save for retirement. You are entitled to open an IRA of your own."
Newlyweds Matt and Lindsay have different spending styles.

Lindsay and Matt are 25- and 29-year-old newlyweds who are expecting their first baby. Together, they make approximately $97,000 a year.

Still, they have $6,000 in credit card debt and $65,000 in student loans. Their biggest problem? Matt's a spender and Lindsay's a saver.
Lindsay and Matt are on their way to a nice retirement fund.

Lindsay and Matt work with Money magazine's Ellen McGirt, and in just one hour's time, the couple is already on their way to a comfortable retirement nest egg.

The couple will take their savings and put it into a place with a higher interest rate. Matt also agrees to downgrade his car and sell his PlayStation.

With this found money, Lindsay and Matt will open two Roth IRA's. Lindsay will contribute $250 a month into hers, and Matt will put $150 into his. By the time they retire, they will have $923,000!
Kathi and Steve have tens of thousands in credit card debt.

Kathi and Steve are both 51 and have four adult children, two of which still live at home. Their combined income is $100,000 a year, and they have approximately $34,000 in credit card debt.

Although that credit card debt might seem daunting, their bigger problem is spending $700 a month supporting their 22-year-old son!
Kathi and Steve have agreed to stop paying their adult son's bills.

With the help of Money magazine's Stephen Gandel, Steve and Kathi make a big dent in their debt.

During one phone call, the couple negotiates their credit card's interest rate from 29 percent to only 5.9 percent! Learn how you may be able to negotiate a lower rate on your credit card.

Kathi and Steve also decide to stop paying their 22-year-old's bills. That will free up $700 a month—money Steve didn't even know they were spending!

Thanks to their newfound funds, Kathi and Steve should have about $450,000 at retirement.
Diana is 23 and living paycheck to paycheck.

Diana is 23 years old and single. She makes $50,000 a year. With $6,000 in credit card debt and $37,000 in student loans, Diana says she's living paycheck to paycheck.
Diana can start building an impressive retirement fund.

Diana makes great progress working with Money magazine's Cybele Weisser. In just an hour, she is able to consolidate her student loan over the phone, saving her $66 a month.

By taking on a roommate, Diana will save $300 a month. She also decides to cancel her gym membership.

In all, Diana saves $409 a month. If she puts that money away every month, 42 years from now this young woman will have $920,000!

FROM: This is the Year to Get Richer!
Published on January 01, 2006


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