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Originally published Sunday, February 25, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Rose Kelly

Rose Kelly Northgate Then: The 26-year-old divorced single mom of two boys was just getting by on her $31,600 salary as a dental assistant...

Rose Kelly

Northgate

Then: The 26-year-old divorced single mom of two boys was just getting by on her $31,600 salary as a dental assistant.

Her goal: Get beyond living paycheck to paycheck and save for a house, retirement and kids' college.

What she's done since: Wanting a better life for sons Gerritt, 6, and Bradley, 4, Kelly made a wrenching decision last fall. While she's been working two jobs and attending a dental-hygienist program full time at North Seattle Community College, she's sent her boys to live with their newly remarried father in Denver. She's hoping to be able to cut back her work hours and bring her boys home in a year or two.

"If I'm going to be a single parent, I need to take this step so I can make it financially without any help," she says. She's proud to have saved $6,000 so far — she banks the entire second-job income — despite needing to replace her car and take on a car loan.

Best tip she got: When tempted to splurge on fast food or entertainment purchases, do a little quick math and project that monthly cost over a whole year. Seeing how even small amounts add up stops her: "I'll go to buy a DVD and say, 'That's more money I could be saving.' "

— Carol Tice

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