A Good Job Is Just the Beginning

The advice usually offered by financial advisers is to avoid trying to keep up with the Joneses, but people may want to keep up with Christopher and Genevie Jones. At 29 and 30, they are a model of financial prudence: Their combined six-figure income places them in an enviable position as they dodge debt traps and accumulate savings–the Joneses have $25,000 in a joint account.

Yet they aren’t satisfied.

“I feel good about what we’re trying to do, but I want to be sure we’re doing all we should to reach our financial goals. Can we do better?” asks Genevie.

Married just two years this September, the couple has been quick to focus on finances. They paid the remaining $6,000 on the car loan for Genevie’s 2008 Nissan Altima, and have been working on eliminating their combined school loan debt of more than $26,000. Otherwise, besides the $17,338 owed on Christopher’s Dodge Charger, they have $800 on a Lowe’s credit card and $1,900 on a bank credit card. “Our priority now is the student loans, and Christopher’s car loan, which has a 1.9% rate,” says Genevie, a radiation therapist and supervisor of a radiation oncology clinic. Christopher, an operating manager, is also going to school part time to finish up his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

The couple has $6,500 in a checking account and $120,000 in retirement savings. But still, they have nagging questions. “Will my retirement and his pension be enough? Should Chris have something to supplement his pension? We’re trying to do the math, but what’s realistic?” asks Genevie.

The couple is seeking financial advice because of their plans for the immediate future as well. For one, they would like to start a family soon. Also, within the next couple of years, they plan to move out of their condo in Indianapolis and purchase a three- to four-bedroom home. Though they realize that such moves will increase their expenses considerably, ideally they would like to live on one income.

Although they draw up a budget at the beginning of each year, Genevie admits that they stray from it as the months go by. Their weakness is food, so they’re planning to cook more meals at home. They now spend as much as $1,500 a month on restaurants and groceries.

“Our focus now is diminishing the amount that we eat out. Otherwise, we are fairly good stewards of our money,” says Christopher.

Adds Genevie, “We have to be mindful of excessive spending. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean it should be used. We don’t argue about money, it hasn’t been an issue, and we want to make sure it doesn’t become one. What’s key is for us to be open and honest and set goals.”

The couple is ready to move to the next financial level. Says Christopher, “I am most excited about the life we are building together and our plans for our future children.”

The Advice
Black Enterprise teamed up with Ivory Johnson, a certified financial planner and founder of Delancey Wealth Management in Washington, D.C., to advise the Joneses. Though they have a strong foundation for their life together, they still have work to do.

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