Financial Fitness Contest

Winner #6 Anre & LaSharn Faush

The Rev. Anre Faush and his wife, LaSharn, are just short of praying for a miracle. In six years they hope to send their 12-year-old son, Christopher, to college. His sisters, Jasmine, 9, Ashlee, 7, and Christen, 6, will follow after him. In order for each of their children to attend a four-year state college, the Faushes must amass $40,000 per child (not including rising tuition rates).

That is a tall order, since the young couple-he’s 30 and she’s 31-are just starting to build an education fund. Late last year, they put aside $600 in an education IRA. “We want our kids to have an opportunity to go to college. We realize we started late, but we need help in how we can go about changing our lifestyle and exploring what options we have in financing their education,” says Faush, who also is a senior claims adjustor with Hartford Insurance Co. in Birmingham, Alabama.

Faush is not unlike most people. He finds having to balance paying everyday expenses against financing long-term goals a bit overwhelming. Along with financing their children’s education, the Faushes have the challenge of also funding their retirement. And a key part of Faush’s plan is not only to leave a legacy for his children but also to pass on a solid financial education as well.

Combined, the couple have a little more than $20,000 in savings and investments. This includes $3,000 in a money market account they consider their emergency fund. They have about $300 in a checking account, which is, essentially, the money they live off. Currently, they have $50 in a savings account. Faush has $15,000 in a 401(k) plan and his wife has $2,000 in another plan from her former employer. The couple also own eight shares (employee stock options) of American Financial Group, valued at about $250.

Since LaSharn quit her job about a year ago to attend college full-time, the family has been living on one salary, reducing its household income by $18,000. That situation isn’t likely to change. LaSharn has two more years before she completes her undergraduate degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In addition to his gross salary of $42,000, Faush receives a yearly stipend of about $13,000 from the church.

The Faushes are not overburdened with debt. He still owes $3,000 on a loan for the family car, a Plymouth Voyager minivan. (He also drives a company car.) Two years ago, she started working with a consumer credit counseling agency to consolidate her credit card debt-a balance of $4,891. She currently has a single bill of $178 per month with $2,049.81 left to pay off. She expects to be debt-free by 2001. While LaSharn won’t have to worry about paying back her student loans until she graduates, she has borrowed close to $3,000.

“I don’t want our kids to have to take on loans to pay for college, but they may not have a choice,” she says. “We are hoping they will get scholarships and that we will be able

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