Michelle Singletary
Photo: Sade Dennis for CS Dennis
Visual Art Communications
"People are born with a certain talent. If you handed me a dollar at age 4, I knew exactly what to do with it," says Singletary, who helped a reader get her finances in order for "Make Me a Ten!". As her family's most frugal child, Singletary routinely lent money to her four brothers and sisters. "I was tough. If they wanted to buy candy or toys, I'd say no," she recalls. "But a pencil for school—that was a different story." Singletary still believes "priorities lead to prosperity." It's one of the principles underlying the advice she gives in her Washington Post personal finance column and a lesson she teaches her own kids. "We're constantly discussing money. They know we're saving for college and like to help other people. I tell them: 'We have to put away money for these things, so that's why Mommy is so cheap.'" Singletary, her husband, and their three children live in Bowie, Maryland.

Get out of debt: Singletary's advice for one single mom