"Your book changed my life," she said. "Really."

All of a sudden, my day was looking up.

We sat down to await news of our flight—she too was trying to get to New York—and she told me her story.

After years on the payroll of a large corporation, Rhonda branched out and started her own educational training company. Business is good. But her checks, rather than coming in small, regular bursts, come in large lump sums.

They had her paralyzed. "I felt like I had way too much money coming into my hands at one time, and I was afraid. I was afraid to do anything with it. I asked friends, but that didn't help. For months, the money just sat in checking. Then I saw your book on Oprah, and I went out and got it the very next morning. I literally sat in the car and started reading it. And I made the decision to find a financial planner. There's a checklist in the book of questions to ask, and I took it in with me to my appointments. It made me feel confident and empowered." After interviewing several, Rhonda found the planner she was looking for. Today, she says, they touch base each week, and she monitors her accounts online just as often.

At 52—though she looks more like 42—Rhonda is acutely aware that she has more time behind her in the workplace than ahead. She caught a big break when her 21-year-old son landed a 4-year academic scholarship to college. But she wants to be sure to use whatever earning power she has left to buy a townhouse and then quickly vanquish the mortgage payments and also to stuff her retirement account as full as possible. "My company has five years left on its biggest contract. After that, it may renew, but if that doesn't happen, at least when it's over I can have the comfort of knowing I have a roof over my head."

A few months later (yes, we finally made it to New York that night), I decided to check in with Rhonda to see how she was doing. She sent me this e-mail:

"Thank you so much for following up. I must tell you that my copy of your book is pretty frayed as it truly is my Bible. It rests on either my bedside table or my bed. Even though I have read it cover-to-cover several times, I still keep it nearby just for affirmation.

Chapter 9 is my favorite. Because of you, I am working closely with a financial planner who has me on a realistic track for retirement planning. For the first time in my life, I am a consistent saver and have brokerage accounts as well.

I thought that my sleepless nights were a result of menopause, only to find that I was fearful for my future. Thanks to you, I can sleep like a baby. Just last week, I felt there was more money in my checking account than I needed. At that very moment, I moved it to a savings account. That was such a high! Saving is actually fun, and I am a living example that it is not too late."

Do you have a success story you'd like to share or a question for Jean? Find out how to get Jean's personal advice.

Jean's book Make Money, Not Excuses is now available in paperback.
Reprinted from Make Money, Not Excuses by Jean Chatzky with permission from Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Copyright © 2006, 2008 by Jean Chatzky.
Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.


Next Story