Year One: Life After the I Do's

Money Lessons From the Real Housewives

Our favorite Real Housewives from the Bravo series don't always have a clue when it comes to dollars and cents. Learn some valuable lessons from their financial foibles.

Overspending sucks. Period.

Our jaws dropped every time we watched New Jersey Housewife Teresa Giudice spend on lavish kids' birthday parties, plastic surgery, and shopping sprees. Turns out she and hubby Joe reportedly earned just $79,000 a year, yet racked up nearly $11 million in debt, including more than $100,000 on credit cards alone. Not surprisingly, the Giudices were forced to declare bankruptcy.

REALITY CHECK: It's simple math, people: The money going out shouldn't be more than the money coming in.

Have honest money convos with your hubby.

Too often, one spouse is in charge of paying expenses while the other lives in la-la land. That was the case for Orange County's Lynne Curtin, who confronted her hubby, Frank, after discovering they were being evicted from their rental home. He had missed a $10,000 payment and hadn't told her.

REALITY CHECK: Hiding financial problems will only breed mistrust. Set a monthly date to pow-wow about what you're spending (cable, electric, credit cards, everything) and saving.

A boneheaded business venture can land you in deep trouble.

Atlanta Housewife Cynthia Bailey invested in a nightclub run by her husband, Peter. Both the club and the cash soon went bye-bye. And New York City Housewife Sonja Morgan (below) invested in a John Travolta movie; when the film went south, it cost her $7 million, and she declared bankruptcy.

REALITY CHECK: Though exotic business opportunities may sound sexy, if you're not a seasoned investor, you should talk to a financial pro about putting your money in safer products, like mutual funds.

Big McMansion + big mortgage = big mess.

Several O.C. Housewives borrowed huge amounts of money to buy palatial pads they could hardly afford. Peggy Tanous and her hubby, Micah, for example, reportedly purchased their mansion for $1,379,000 in 2006, and had two mortgages: one for $1 million, the second for $300,000. Now that the real estate bubble has burst, their house has been in danger of foreclosure.

REALITY CHECK: The days of buying a Barbie Dream House with next to nothing down are over. You need at least 10 to 20 percent of the purchase price for a down payment, plus six months' worth of mortgage, insurance, and maintenance costs saved.

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