Marriage & Money: What We Did To Get Our Financial House In Order

By Traci Hill Femister

In today’s economy, we are facing more challenges to keep our heads above water financially. Financial issues are one of the things couples deal with daily and can put a real wedge in a relationship. My husband has a brokerage firm that handles all things financial from planning for retirement and kids education to real estate purchases. He once told me that even in good times many people do not have money reserved for emergencies. The ripple of not having money you need has effects that are far and wide, impacting your relationship with your significant other but also transferring to your children and work environment.

How you handle it will have a lot to do with what your and their futures look like. Your children will learn how to either overcome an issue while watching you work through it or how to give in and let the issue have a negative effect on their life. We will have some not so great reactions to some of our more challenging times but how we handle them, will be what’s remembered.

If you are employed, your finances or credit report can be one of the determining factors that get you the promotion. If you are looking for a new position, it very well may be the determining factor taken into consideration before you are offered the job. Yes, you are well qualified but if you cannot manage your finances, the questions they will likely ask are (1) can you manage the responsibilities of the position (2) will you be preoccupied with you financial problems and not focused on the job at hand and (3) are you a security risk…credit is looked at when getting security clearance.

Need a loan? Once upon a time, financial institutions pulled only on of the 3 credit reports but recently I applied for a loan and they pulled all 3. My husband also hipped me to the fact that mortgages are not being written by small firms nearly as much but by the large institutions who are doing less lending and more than likely you have no relationship with the representative with whom you have to deal with online or a toll free number. They don’t care if you’re a good person; all you are to them is a credit score. Work to get control of your finances…one small step at a time. In this country, credit is king and determines what you can have in life and if you get it, how much interest you pay for it.

As a wife and mother of 2 young boys, running my own company, our family had to buy into cutting cost and running our lives a little leaner. We started with a family meeting to include our kids (but sparing them the gory details).

Here’s what we did:

· Meet every 2 weeks (it only takes 10 – 15 minutes after the first one) to make sure you are on track. One of you may think this is not necessary but if you got money issues…the pain of doing nothing is worse…so be like Nike and just do it

· Only have cable on one television…we tried no cable but I couldn’t take watching another episode of Knight Rider!

· Cut up all cards except for one. Duh…ok then do it!

· Bought a reverse osmosis water filter and do not buy water anymore

· Paid off the car – if you don’t have the cash, cut your payments in half and pay half on the 1st and the other half on the 15th and you will pay it off faster. Call your lender, they’ll tell you how it works

· Had our credit reviewed by…there is actually a person who talked to us!

· Created face to face relationships with professionals where we bank. Building advocacy with those who make or influence decisions is key…and be nice to the tellers too!

· Buy only what we eat for the week or two and not succumb to all of the sales and have your cabinets look like a bomb shelter with food you’ll never eat…although a good deal on chicken is hard to pass up! After all that is why there are freezers.

· Teaching our kids about money. They earn money for extra reading and math which they save and buy what they want be it gum in the check out line to the little plastic toy they will soon fall out of love with but have to have at that moment. If they do not have money on them, they can pay it back but if they don’t their lending privileges are revoked until they do.

Good luck and stay strong! Life is about cycles and if you are in one of those times that is not so great…keep plugging away…doing a little everyday, it will pay off. You will live through this, might as well come out on the other end with great relationships and good credit!

Traci Hill Femister is a wife, mom of 2, and entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Private Luxury Unwrapped, a residential relocation firm. She is also an educational advocate for children and firmly believes that education is the great equalizer. Connect with her on Facebook at

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6 replies
  1. Virat
    Virat says:

    One thing is clear from your post! Money is hard to earn. We need to focus on our skills to get on the right track or otherwise we may finish it on the dead line for sure!

  2. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Anyone know of any resources online where you can find things that teach kids about money? My husband and I were just talking about this the other day. This is right on time. Thank you Traci!

  3. Karen
    Karen says:

    Just curious at what age do you think that I can begin teaching my children about money? I really want to teach my children what I didn't have the benefit of.

  4. Charla
    Charla says:

    I so needed this! I really appreciate these tips.

    • Karen
      Karen says:

      You and me both Charla. Alot of times people don't want to deal with their money. But, I am of the mindset that what you ignore only grows in size and I want my money to grow not my debt!

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