Drafting a Financial Plan

Dion and Sherrunda Adkins both grew up in families that struggled financially. “In our family you work until you die,” says Dion. “People have little savings and at 65 they are still trying to make ends meet. We want to change those traditions.” Today, the parents of Deanna, 4, and Dion Jr., 2, are working hard to do just that.

True to their commitment to financial betterment, the Vicksburg, Mississippi, couple juggles work with part-time schooling. Sherrunda, a 30-year-old licensed practical nurse, is studying to become a registered nurse, while Dion, 31, is working toward a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He is a manager—partner at a restaurant franchise who takes time off from school from January to June to focus on the seasonal tax business he started in 2009.

The Adkins have a household income of $146,000, plus $22,000 in a savings account, $2,000 in a checking account, $4,800 in a traditional IRA, and $800 in a 401(k) account that Sherrunda opened in 2009. They have about $5,000 in credit card debt and $3,000 in student loan debt from Dion’s first stint in college. The couple pays for their schooling out of pocket, about $5,000 a year total. The family’s biggest debt is a $126,000 mortgage on a three-bedroom, two-bath home they bought for $145,000 in 2005. Adding to their debt are three vehicles: a 2007 Chevy Tahoe, a 2003 Ford Taurus, and a 2007 Toyota Camry, for which they owe nearly $30,000.

The couple’s short-term financial goals include paying off their two credit cards and at least one of their auto loans. “This is important because we can use those monthly payments to help save for retirement and start a savings plan for our kids’ college,” says Dion. In addition, the Adkins plan to increase household income once Sherrunda becomes a registered nurse and Dion receives his accounting degree.