Before I knew it, I was dressing celebrities like Farrah Fawcett and Bonnie Raitt, and selling my creations in upmarket stores in major cities, the kind of boutiques I'd shopped in when I had money.

I quickly needed a larger space to run my business, so I took $10,000 from an art sale and borrowed another $10,000 from my parents. I knew nothing about managing a business, so I brought in a partner to handle the finances -- at least that's what I thought she'd do. It had taken me only three months to get "angel investor" funding -- and within 12, the money was gone. I was so busy with my creative role, on top of being a single mom, that I didn't pay close enough attention to what my partner was doing. It was clearly my mistake.

If I had to pick a low point, this was it. My marriage was over, my business had failed, and I was completely broke. There were weeks when I was so paralyzed with fear that I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't figure out how I'd messed up my life so badly.

Looking back, I know exactly how it happened: My parents never taught me about money, and while I had graduated college, I hadn't been required to take business classes. But hitting bottom was actually a huge blessing because it made me realize something: With my life stripped down to nothing, I really had everything -- my sons, my health and myself. Eventually, with emotional support from my parents and friends, I began to forgive myself.

How I finally turned my life around

I had finally wised up. I was on a mission for financial stability. I got a job in marketing -- and got serious about budgeting.

I worked with an attorney to finally get my business accounts in order -- everything from contracts to trademarks and licensing deals. More importantly, he pushed me into taking a lot of it on myself, so that I could pursue projects as a fully engaged, responsible grown-up.

I also discovered the Women's Institute for Financial Education (WIFE). My CPA had recommended checking them out, and when I saw their slogan -- "A Man Is Not a Financial Plan" -- I had to know them.

Besides basics like budgeting, WIFE has taught me to plan for the future and depend on myself. I learned the hard way that you need to save, plan ahead and create a stable foundation in order to have the freedom to be entrepreneurial -- and successful.

Today, my approach to money today is on steroids. I love knowing where every cent is, and I'm proud of the way I educate my kids to be financially savvy. I now have emergency funds, insurance for the future and retirement accounts. Now, instead of avoiding bills, I actually get excited when my bank statements hit my inbox.

It's a long way from being $4 million in debt.

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