Starting Over Financially

FINANCESince her 20s, Laure Justice, a copywriter in Mansfield, Ohio, has struggled to get on top of her debt. Some payments, including old medical bills, went into collections and hurt her credit score. A few years ago, she started tackling them one at a time. “I picked the smallest one first and focused on it,” she says.

Over the past two years, she has successfully paid off the debts in collections, and in the process, she raised her credit score by 130 points. “It was just about sitting down and making out a budget and figuring out where and how to save,” she says.

Justice encourages others struggling with past financial mistakes to get a new start, too. In March, she self-published a book, “Personal Finance for Women: How to Stop Struggling While Making the Best of Starting Over,” and she maintains a blog,, on the same subject. Justice is one of hundreds of thousands of men and women working to recover from past money missteps — and financial experts say there’s a lot they can do to increase their chances of success.

“If you’re going through bankruptcy, the stress of that and embarrassment can create high hurdles, but all hurdles are surmountable,” says Rebecca Dallek, a career and leadership coach for women. Part of the process involves becoming aware of behavior patterns so you can shift them, she adds. “There’s always a way forward.”

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