Elizabeth, an early reader of The Difference

Name:
Elizabeth

Occupation: Family law information officer/mediator—I work for the provincial government helping divorced/separated parents primarily with calculating child support. I love my job beyond words. In short, I get to help emotionally charged people understand an often intimidating process in a way that empowers them to feel more in control.

Personal life: Divorced in February 2009 after 19-year marriage; one child (age 11); I own a home with approximately $100,000 equity, and my ex and I set up a Registered Education Savings Plan (the Canadian college savings plan) for our daughter before she was born. I also have a pension plan through my employer and am contributing monthly to my Registered Retirement Savings Plan. I have two university degrees and am starting a master's degree in applied integrated studies through Athabasca University.

Biggest financial concerns:
Getting control and saving up a safety cushion. My marriage ended, in part, due to both me and my former spouse not dealing consciously with our finances. He assumed I knew what I was doing, and I really didn't. I could not bear to say no to him when he wanted something, and we ended up in a lot of debt with no savings.

I am not making the same mistakes I did for years and am focused on paying down debt—I owe approximately $20,000, not including my mortgage—and have a plan to be debt-free within two years.

Lessons learned from The Difference: That "regular" people can have financial security. The whole philosophy of the book—that financial management and security are only parts of a full life—fits with the more holistic view I now have about my life. Looking back, I see how out of balance my life was and found that when I started working on facing my own role in the breakdown of my marriage and started dealing with my relationship with the Divine and began getting a handle on my money (including already paying off close to $30,000 since my separation and setting up a regular savings program) and got better at looking after my physical well-being, everything has come together to where I have a sense of peace that I never thought was possible.

Favorite chapter from The Difference: The chapter on following your gut and taking intelligent risks. I've always believed that there are smart risks and dumb risks. I try to take the smart ones as much as possible.
The information provided here is general advice and you should always consult your own financial adviser before making major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio. The opinions expressed by the hosts, guests and callers to Oprah Radio are strictly their own.

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