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.