Families and Financial Stress in HBFT

Module Sections:

Applying the Framework


Jill is employed at a local restaurant as a cashier and Jeff delivers for a local newspaper. Jill is able to earn tips at her job, which makes her income variable each week. The most she has earned is $600 (during special events) and the least is about $400. Jeff's income is based on the number of customers he delivers to. At one time he made about $500 per week – currently reports that he makes about $200 per week. Jill and Jeff have a daughter, Nora (4). The clinician agrees that she will help them and asks the couple to list their expenses and income (see below).















Total Expenses


Total Income




By using a money genogram Mary is able to learn more about how each family understood and talked about money. She found that both Jeff and Jill have been living in financial hardship since childhood. Jeff reported that he was raised by a single mother and that during junior year of high school he had to drop out of school to work to support his family. Jeff still has not finished his GED. Jill's parents were farmers and did well for much of her childhood. When her father passed away, her mother could not maintain the farm and so they had to move in with family. Jill had to change schools and her mother could not find work because she had no skills. Fortunately Jill's family supported them but Jill never learned to manage money. When she turned 18, she began to open store credit cards and had a large amount of debt in her name. She was able to file bankruptcy but she is still recovering.

Once Mary became aware of the couple's concerns, she realized that it would be more helpful for them if they worked with a professional on how to improve their financial situation. Mary spoke with her agency and was able to learn more about the financial management services in the area and eventually she was able to find what she thought were "good fits" for her family. She encouraged the parents to meet with each once and compare their experiences and decide for themselves who they would like to work with. Once the couple began to search for financial management resources, Mary was able to talk with them about how it affected their parenting and other day to day tasks. Jill and Jeff felt that just knowing they were going to be getting help eased some of the tension at home. Mary agreed that she felt they were more open in their parenting sessions since they first spoke about their economic distress. Mary encouraged the couple to continue with the planner they eventually chose concurrently with their family sessions.