Katie and Cortney: the secret is teamwork




They had grown up in the same small town in Michigan, and attended the same school starting in elementary school. They became close friends in high school, and then chose the same university. After they separately moved back to their hometown, they transitioned from friends to romance.

Eleven years ago, Cortney and Katie married; she was 27 and he was 26.

When they began premarital counseling, one assignment was to talk to someone they respected in terms of money management, and they picked Katie’s parents.Her mother is an accountant, and taught Katie well the value of a dollar.

“They bought groceries once a week, and planned the meals around coupons,” says Katie. “Now they live quite comfortably because they weren’t foolish.”

They also discovered that Katie’s mom always handled the bills for the family, because it stressed out her dad.

“I was going to handle the bills, but money and deadlines stress me out, and I’m a procrastinator,” laughs Katie. “We decided before we got married that we would have equal access and could streamline, but Cortney would handle the bills.”

Two months into their marriage, they lost Cortney’s dad to cancer. Two years later they suffered multiple miscarriages, and then, finally a beautiful baby boy. However, the birth was traumatic for Katie, and she suffered with PTSD and postpartum depression. Then Cortney lost his job. They juggled uncertainty and financial worries and came out on top, stabilizing and going on to have another little boy and then a baby girl.

“Our attitude is all about teamwork,” Katie says.

Both Katie and Cortney paid for their college tuition, in part. Katie worked three jobs during her college years to split the tuition with her parents; Cortney paid his own way. When they got married, they had leftover student loan debt, credit card debt, and they owed Katie’s parents for a small loan.

In a modified version of a popular money management plan, the couple set up a vacation account, an educational fund for each of their three children, and a general joint account. Then they set aside a small allowance each week to do what they want. Through Cortney’s job, they have a 401(k) investment account, and Katie has a 403(b) and a pension through her job as a teacher.

“Since we have been married, we have handled things as responsibly as we could,” Katie says. “We are frugal and careful about how we spend our money and try not to put things on credit cards.”

Katie and Cortney talk to their kids about saving money and how to best to spend the money they make.  We explain that daddy pays bills and where the money goes.

“We gave the kids money to spend over spring break, and Eddie was very careful to buy the most he could with every dollar, which shows me that they listen,” says Katie. “They understand the concept of a budget.”

Katie and Cortney would first like to pay off all of their debt. Recently, they refinanced everything under a home equity loan so they have one large bill and that has reduced our debt significantly, they say. Their short-term goals are to move into a larger home in the next couple of years and to buy a new vehicle.

“We don’t live fancy lives; we live within our means,” Katie says.

Smith Wealth Advisors


Kristin Shaw is a writer, blogger, and marketing professional. She was named a BlogHer Voice Of The Year in 2014 and 2015, and her work has been featured nationally at sites like The Huffington Post and The Washington Post. Her blog, Two Cannoli, is a vehicle for her own personal essays and photos and was named a Babble blog of the year in 2013. Kristin lives with her family in Austin, Texas. - See more at: www.twocannoli.com