Victoria, an early reader of The Difference


Occupation: Administrative assistant, bartender, banquet employee, meeting and event planning student

Personal life: Divorced, with a 21-year-old daughter

Biggest financial concerns:
This year was supposed to be the best year of my life. I planned to celebrate my 50th birthday and my daughter's 21st birthday in Italy, and I have a full time job and a second job. I had my dream job, and I would wake up every morning and thank God I had it. Well, this dream became a nightmare. I lost my job when I returned from being off on disability after having surgery. I can go on and on about how I was done wrong, but now I realize this was a blessing. Yes, I took a major loss in income, was caught totally by surprise and was devastated—on the other hand, it gave me time to reflect on what I truly have a passion for, which is event and meeting planning.

I started taking courses at San Francisco State University's College of Extended Learning last year and thought this was the perfect time to complete the program. I contacted the director and asked him about the possibility of working as his teaching assistant in exchange for classes. At the beginning of the year, they announced an opening—was it possible that it was still open? He gave me the position, and I was jazzed!

Lessons learned from The Difference: Jean Chatzky and The Difference have made a HUGE difference in my life. I have refinanced my home to 15 years fixed at 4.87 percent. I contacted the bank that changed the terms on my credit card from 3.9 percent fixed to more than double the minimum payment and told them that I was taking my business elsewhere. I just received a letter apologizing for the error. I combined my home and car insurance and opened an account with Charles Schwab. It is so freeing to be almost debt-free and have a house that will be paid off when I retire. Now at the age of 50, I am finally following my passion and getting into what I truly love. 

Favorite chapter from The Difference: So many—I go back to different sections of the book according to what kind of motivation I need for the day. The main one, and the one I remind my daughter of daily, is to follow your passions especially while you're young. You have the rest of your life to do what you don't want to do, but by following your dreams you will have an extra pep in your step because you are doing what you love.