A Message from Tiffany Bass Bukow, Founder of
Throughout my life, I have enjoyed significant financial
success and endured surprising financial failure. Dealing
with the success was easy. Dealing with the failure
was not, especially when it was unexpected. I have had
to challenge my values and work hard to continue to
succeed while learning from failure. And I discovered
that friends who had been in similar circumstances were
my greatest source of motivation.
I hope that MsMoney.com's Success Stories provide
you with the same inspiration I received from my friends.
Each week, we will profile a remarkable woman who has
confronted financial obstacles and overcome challenges
to lead a happy, financially secure, and meaningful
If you'd like to share your success story, please e-mail
us at email@example.com.
From Healthcare Giver To Financial Caregiver
By Eileen Michaels
up, I never thought much about money. My family always had
enough. I don't know how I determined just how much "enough"
was, but somehow I did. We had enough for food, clothing,
trips to the dentist, used bicycles, and summer vacations
in an upstate bungalow colony. My dad worked two jobs, and
my mom stayed home. I shared a bed with my grandmother who
came to live with us after her second husband died.
I had always wanted to be a nurse, to wear a blue cape and
cap and take care of people. My brother was going to be a
doctor and I would be a nurse. And when it came to money,
I never worried about how much I would earn because I wasn't
going to be the primary wage earner. I was going to get married
to a terrific guy who would support me. My career was going
to serve as additional income to help pay the mortgage in
the early years of our marriage. My career would be a labor
of love and passion, and money seemed of little or no consequence.
As it turned out, I met a man three years older than I. The
year was 1967, he was 23 and I was 20, and the Vietnam War
was in full force. I had graduated from nursing school, and
my beloved was working in the insurance industry. When I think
back, it's hard to remember what we talked about when we were
dating. I know for sure that there were no conversations about
money, child rearing, or life-defining issues. They were more
along the lines of whose mother we'd be dining with on Friday
night. Our first son was born in 1969, followed by a second
in 1972. I would describe us as a "fiscally challenged" couple,
and, as a result, I had to work. My husband and I had different
ideas about debt, savings, and financial planning. There was
constant disharmony, and the marriage ended after 10 years
and many repeated attempts to understand one another.
During the marriage, I conveniently blamed my husband for
everything. It worked well. I had friends who even supported
me as I blamed "the Prince," as I so fondly called him. After
the divorce, I was forced to look at myself. First, I realized
that I could not support my children on $136 a week as a nurse.
It was shocking to think I had to leave my career and difficult
to figure out my next move. I decided to get experience in
sales--any sales, just to prove I could do it. Why sales?
Because there didn't seem to be any ceiling on what I could
potentially earn. The first job I got was selling time and
temperature clocks and airline arrival and departure boards.
I even sold the Madison Square Garden Scoreboard. When I won
a trip to Europe for me and my "wife," the company wouldn't
let me take a man. After two years there, it was my pleasure
to move on. By then, I was earning $20,000 a year. My next
position was working with psychologists at banks and brokerage
institutions to create workshops, and thus began my education
in finance and investing. Money still made me nervous because
it was like a foreign language, but I wanted to master it.
On Memorial Day in 1978, I wrote in my journal that I was
ready to take a chance. In my mind, taking care of people
(as a trained nurse) could apply to whatever profession I
chose. With respect to finance, therefore, I would use the
same care and forethought in managing wealth as I did in managing
health. I was scared, but I was determined to learn the language
of money the same way that I had learned the language of medicine.
That was 22 years ago. I went slowly, took classes, and asked
a lot of questions. And my healthcare training really helped;
I never wrote a financial prescription for someone without
first conducting a financial physical. Based on the medical
model I was taught as a nurse, I treated money as seriously
and delicately as I had health.
Today, as a Senior Vice President for a major financial institution,
I am responsible for and invest more than $125 million dollars
for my clients, run workshops and seminars, promote my book,
When You Are Entitled to New Underwear and Other Major
Financial Decisions: Making Your Money Dreams Come True,
and write for financial Web sites. In the days when I struggled
in an unhappy marriage with two small babies, I would never
have thought that I would be telling this story today. What
brought me to this place is my belief that having dreams matters,
that money is just another language to be learned, that humor
heals, and that I can and want to make a difference in people's