Meet the First 4 Winners of Our Financial Makeovers!

Meet the First 4 Winners of Our Financial Makeovers!

It's the perfect time of year to make a fresh start with your finances. That's why, in partnership with Chase, we launched the LearnVest Pledge—your commitment to yourself, and the rest the LearnVest community—to take charge of your money.

It's also why, a few short weeks ago, we asked you to nominate yourself or someone you know to receive a free LearnVest financial makeover sponsored by Chase. And, did you ever: We received hundreds of entries from women with incredible stories, which made choosing our first four winners anything but easy.

But how can you say no to a sweet, single mom-to-be, who's seven months pregnant and just wants to "provide a solid financial future for my baby girl"? That's Christina.

And, when the economy knocks you down, and it takes 20 months to find a new job, we don't know too many women who'd pick themselves up and enroll in business school at age 45. Meet Maureen, now gainfully employed again and trying to rebuild.

Meanwhile, Thea had a genius idea: After growing up with a "profound fear of money," this public defender started a money club that meets once a month, where she and her friends face up to their financial hopes, fears and dreams.

Finally, there's Tamara, nominated by her friend Jessica, who wrote to share how this busy medical resident "once chased down a homeless man to take him to Burger King, and sat down and listened to his story of how he fell on hard times." Tamara's dream? To open a clinic that provides medical care for patients without insurance.

The only problem? "She's financially clueless," confesses Jessica.

LearnVest to the rescue.

  • We gave each of our winners free access to the LearnVest My Money Center and to Stephany, a Certified Financial Planner® and expert in our Advice Center. Over the next eight weeks, we'll watch them turn their goals into reality.

Read on to hear where they're starting from—and where they're headed.

Christina, 28

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Location:

Houston, TX

Occupation:

Management Recruiter

Goal:

To pay down her debt—and provide financial stability for her baby.

Salary:

$42,500

Why Christina Needs a Makeover:

She has a baby on the way and wants nothing more than to provide a good life for her daughter, as a single mom. "I was raised by a single mother who always struggled to provide for my sister and me, and I do not want that for my baby," says Christina, whose baby is due on March 14th.

Instead, she wants to adopt good money habits early on: "I would like to be debt-free so that I have money to show my baby girl what life is about and take her on family vacations," she says. "If I don't get my finances under control, I won't be able to do that."

Right now she has $8,000 in credit card debt, and only $400 in savings—with her expenses about to get higher. "I've heard these baby things are quite expensive," she says.

Maureen, 46

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Location:

Atlanta, GA

Occupation:

Sports marketer

Her Money Goal:

Rebuild after a bout of unemployment, and pay off $30,000 - 40,000 in credit card debt

Salary:

$75,000

Why She Needs a Makeover:

Maureen was a victim of the recession. "I was laid off in 2009," she says, "and it took me 20 months of searching, networking and going to outplacement services to find a new job." In the meantime, she enrolled in business school to get her MBA. "I decided that I never wanted to go through that again," she says.

Now she has a wonderful job, but took a 50% pay cut from what she was making before the layoff. And, being unemployed for that long took its toll: She has between $30,000 and $40,000 of credit card debt to pay off, as well as $50,000 in student loans piling up.

Oh, and: "Luckily my car is paid off, but it's eleven years old, and I'm just praying that it's still holding up when my student loans come due!"

Thea, 31

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Location:

Brooklyn, NY

Occupation:

Lawyer (specifically a public defender)

Goal:

Learn how to face her fears of money and eventually buy an apartment

Salary:

$56,000

Why She Needs a Makeover:

"I have a fulfilling, but not high-paying job as a public defender: I represent indigent individuals in criminal cases," she says. "But I want to make sure I'm setting myself up for a future where I can always practice the kind of law I want to practice: Law in the service of others."

Up until now, Thea's paralysis has prevented her from tackling her finances. "I'm finally out of law school and making money, and I have no idea—I mean, no idea—how money works," she says.

She's fortunate to have a chunk of money in savings, but doesn't know what to do with it. "The money's just sitting in an account, earning no interest," she says. "Unfortunately, I think I've also inherited some unhealthy money habits from generations of women in my family!"

Thea also has yet to set up a retirement account. And, since her entire family rents, she'd love to own her own apartment in New York City someday. That's why she gathered up her female friends and started a money club. "But it's kind of like the blind leading the blind," she says ruefully.

 

Tamara, 27

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Location:

New York, NY

Occupation:

Doctor (Medical Resident in Podiatry)

Goal:

Open her dream medical clinic

Salary:

$45,000

Why She Needs a Makeover:

Tamara has big dreams, but to do serious good in the world, first she needs to get her own finances in order. She, too, is in a bit of financial denial: "I don't know exactly how much I make," she says, "I'm not organized with things like that."

But with medical school behind her—and a bright future in podiatry ahead of her—this doctor has the chops to master her money. Right now Tamara has $150,000 in student loans and no savings. Plus, she has fees for board exams, and applications for licensing and insurance companies coming up in the next six months.

What motivates her most is helping others: "I want to be able to send money home to my mother, and I would love to be able to give back to my community by building an organization that allows people without health insurance to find care. I know that without getting a grasp on how to save money and invest wisely, it's a goal I may never reach."

More From LearnVest

Have your own financial demons? Here's how to fight them.
It's always a good time to set money goals. Start here.
It's hard to believe someone with $350,000 can't make ends meet.

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