After reading the August 2012 Black Enterprise Financial Fitness Contest winner’s story, Michael McElroy, 34, and his wife of three years, Nia, 38, realized they were not saving nearly enough for the life they pictured in retirement. The August winner, Curtis Hoosier, had already amassed $80,000 for retirement at just 31 years old, and earned $63,000 less than the Houston couple. “I’ve always read these case studies and a lot of times people who make less money have more savings, and it intrigues me,” explained Michael as to why he and his wife sprang from bed at 1:50 a.m. to apply online for the contest.
“I’ve been on my job for 11 years, contributing to my 401(k)—the minimum, probably. I feel badly that I don’t even know that. I know better than not to know that,” admits Michael, who has amassed $20,000 in retirement savings at Travelers Insurance where he works as a unit manager. Nia has only $16,000 left in her 403(b) retirement account that she contributes to through her job as a college access coordinator, where she helps high school students gain access and admission to college. She made two early withdrawals. Her last such transaction was in 2009, when she withdrew $11,000 to pay for her nuptials—a move that came with penalties and taxes.
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