I believe we all have special gifts. We are here to fulfill our purpose, and regardless of where we come from, we can accomplish great things in our lives.

I remember being asked to do a seminar for the Federal Reserve’s Money Smart Week many years ago called, Smart Women Finish Rich. When I got up to speak, I looked out at 170 women known as the “Unbanked” (meaning they did not have a bank account), and I wondered, How in the world will I ever reach these women?

From my introduction, they knew I was a successful financial advisor living on a lake in the suburbs. How could they relate to me, or me to them?

It was then that I decided to tell my personal story for the first time. I had never publicly shared this story, because I was embarrassed of it. I looked around the conference center and saw my co-workers and the prominent attorney who invited me to speak in the back of the room. I was scared to death, but I stepped through my fear shared this story …

My parents were very poor when I was born. My father decided to re-enlist in the Army to make ends meet. When I was just 6 years old, my father died in an accident, leaving my mother with three children under six. She was just 32.

Although my mother had used the military insurance to pay cash for a house, plus she received some income from the military and Social Security, she wanted a man to take care of her and her three children.

She found one at our church, but he was a monster. After nine years of living hell, she ended up homeless with breast cancer. You would think that I would have learned from that experience, but we often go back to the familiar. Guess what? I ended up marrying my own monster.

Thank God I was very strong, and through a series of synchronistic events, I was able to get out of that marriage within a year. It was a very challenging experience, but a good lesson that would help prepare me for my life’s purpose.

So how did I get from where I was then to where I am today?

At 20 years of age, I found a book called, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. I learned that “thoughts are things, that I could create any life I could imagine if I just had a vision, didn’t lose focus, and did whatever it took to succeed.”

Next, I found a mentor. I took classes, stepped out of my comfort zone again and again. Becoming a Certified Financial Advisor was a game-changer for me. I also met my husband of over 30 years, we had children, and together, we created an amazing life. It wasn’t always easy. We made mistakes, but we learned from those mistakes. They were our greatest teachers.

What I know today is that everything that happened to me was perfect. I have no regrets.

Embrace your roots, your experiences, your lessons, and use them to propel you forward. And most of all, do whatever it takes to get smart about money so you can make a difference and live a life you love.

You may have to get uncomfortable, but with the right information and support, you can do it too! Get that support from our Smart Women Community! Take advantage of our experts interviews at Smart Women TV and Smart Women Talk, explore our blogs and free resources, and schedule time to take our free courses at the Smart Women’s Academy. Behind every successful woman is a tribe of successful women who have her back. That’s Smart Women’s Empowerment. Sign up today!


Katana Abbott, CFP®, is a Retirement Income Coach and Certified Social Security Claiming Specialist, founder of the Midlife Millionaire™ Solution, and the host of Smart Women Talk. For over 35 years, Katana has helped baby boomers plan for retirement, including how to create lifetime income, how to optimize their Social Security benefits, launch an encore career, and prepare for long-term care.  She has written several books, created a financial literacy course, and is a popular speaker. Katana has been honored by NAWBO as one of Detroit’s Top 10 Businesswomen, receiving the Breakthrough Award. To download her new retirement guide, Three Smart Strategies to Maximize Your Retirement Income, visit www.katanaabbott.com.