We gathered five women for open and candid discussions about money. Click to highlight their stories - chances are there will be something you can relate to.

Amanda Laurie Leslie Luisa Vanessa


  • Age: 20s
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Number of Children: 0
  • Career: Financial Security Adviser/Freelance designer
  • Education: Completed technical college
  • Income: $20,000 – $40,000

In my early childhood, money was never an issue…but when I was 11 years old, my father passed away from cancer and my sister and I suddenly had to help out because our family income had been sliced by 80%. Shortly after my father had passed away I have a distinct memory of my mother asleep on her desk, surrounded by bills. We were being sued for the mortgage on our house due to an underwriting problem with my dad's life insurance.

We ended up winning the court battle, though the life insurance policy wasn't enough to cover our expenses. My mother took up two more jobs and used her widow's pension to buy a prime life insurance policy on herself. She also took out two small insurance policies on myself and my sister despite the disagreement this caused among our family as if it were "a jinx" on our lives. Bless her soul for taking out the insurance on me, because I'll never be able to get any more.

Five years later my mother remarried and thanks to some smart investments we were much better off. But that year I was diagnosed with cancer, completely unrelated to my father's. I was unable to function on my own let alone work, so relied solely on my orphan pension. My mother cut back on her work significantly in order to take care of me, but thankfully we had her new husband's income to help ease the shortfall of her cutback.

When I was 18, I was finally in remission and anxious to move out. Working was a challenge - my energy was very low due to many after effects from my chemotherapy and I had very high medical and dental bills and a depleting number in my bank account. Under the guidance of my financial adviser I knew I needed to find a job with benefits to cover at least part of these bills. I took this advice, and now work full-time and also part-time on a few side-projects in the arts community.

Due to my medical history and the fact that I can't get any more insurance, I have to be smart about my investments and planning for retirement. I've set goals to have my student loans and personal loans paid off before I'm 30. I have a TFSA that helps me achieve this, and I never miss a payment.

It's now my mission to make smart investments the way my mother did in order to protect the family I might have one day.