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Females & Finances: Melanie Ruelas

Melanie Ruelas

In our Females & Finances series, inspirational women leaders from Madison and Milwaukee share their words of wisdom for women who are trying to manage their finances and own it in their everyday lives. Know someone who has a great story to share? Send nominations to

This month, hear from Summit Financial Coach Melanie Ruelas. Learn how she worked her way up in her career and went on to guide the winning 2017 Project Money team to victory.

  • What does “Owning It” mean to you? 

“Owning It” means holding yourself accountable to your goals and action plan. Every day we have a choice to make the most of it. By choosing to live life with purpose, being a positive person and role model to others, you live a life filled with passion and joy. I choose to “Own It” by being cognizant of my financial decisions, holding myself accountable to my short- and long-term goals as well as feeling empowered to make adjustments as necessary.

  • Tell us about your personal and professional journey and how you got where you are today.

I started in banking fresh out of high school. I’ve had a passion for numbers and felt mathematics was a strong suit of mine. I began my career as a teller, quickly learning the grassroots of banking and what it all entailed. I worked my way up to becoming a Financial Specialist. At this point in my career was where I began to learn the importance of saving for short- and long-term goals, being aware of my spending and the impact it made on borrowing. Borrowing is helpful as it helps build credit, and repayment terms can be affordable, but being 18 with over 10 credit cards is not smart! It took experiencing credit firsthand – the desire to impulse buy and save 10% off my purchase –  that left me churning to learn. I became passionate about educating people about credit, discussing their financial goals and recommending financial plans. I’ve been able to coach many families in meeting their short- and long-terms goals, which has been extremely rewarding. Most recently, coaching for Project Money – Season 9 and watching my contestant win the grand prize!

  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned about finances?

It’s never too late to start! I’ve learned that people become intimidated when discussing finances and prolong the first stage in the process – OWNING IT. It takes responsibility to begin. It takes accountability to progress. It takes flexibility to change. It takes tenacity to Own It! One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to save! I’ve increased the number of sub-savings accounts that I have over the course of the years as my kids are involved in so much more as they are getting older. I have a savings fund for school, sports, medical, holiday, emergency, etc., which gives me the peace of mind knowing I’ve planned for the planned and unplanned expenses. Each pay period a certain amount goes into each of the accounts automatically – out of sight and out of mind! When I have an unexpected expense, it’s stress free, because I’ve been strategic in preparing.

  • What resources/strategies help you manage your money?

There are multiple! Summit Credit Union has an array of tools to help you keep your finances top of mind. Summit’s “Money Smarts” tab on the website is a fantastic resource for programs, blogs, calculators and worksheets. Most recently, while car shopping with my son, I was able to pull up a calculator to calculate payments for his first vehicle loan. There is so much – available for FREE – that can really help everyone become educated in one way or another!

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