When Shannon Nash and her husband, Bill, got married in 1996 they began holding regular meetings about their finances. At the time, Bill’s job as a lieutenant in the Navy required him to be away from home for extended periods, leaving Shannon to tackle bills and execute the couple’s financial plan by herself. These meetings provided a way for them to reach an agreement about how to move their finances forward.
In the early days of their marriage, Bill had no debt at all, while Shannon had approximately $1,500 in store credit card debt and some $35,000 in graduate school loans. Together, the Nashes made a vow: No more store credit cards. The couple resolved to aggressively pay down their debts by doubling up on payments and eliminating unnecessary items from their budget. Five years later, the couple was debt-free. The Nashes say the strategy was effective because they worked as a team.
The couple has seen a few changes over the years. Bill left the Navy in 2001, and the Nash household expanded to include three sons: Jason, 11; Kyle, 5; and Logan, 1. Even so, the couple has maintained their strict spending philosophy: “If we can’t pay for it by the end of the month, we don’t buy it.â€ Their discipline has paid off. They keep their credit card balances low or at zero, and they have nearly flawless credit histories. Both Shannon and Bill have credit scores in the 700s.
Unlike many Americans, the Nashes, who are both 38 years old, don’t rely on credit cards. Because of the turbulent economic times, Shannon says she’s glad they never got into the habit of carrying one in their wallets. The family makes credit card purchases only if they have the cash on hand to pay the balance off in full. They have also trained themselves to ask a simple question before making any purchase: “Can you afford to pay this off?â€
In addition, the Nash family is committed to judicious tax management. Since Shannon owns a tax, business, and entertainment management company, Nash Management Group, that’s no difficult task. A lawyer and certified public accountant, Shannon started the company in 2004. The timing was right, as the family had just returned to the States after a stint overseas, coupled with a new baby. She structured the company as an S corporation. Because she’s self-employed, Shannon monitors what she owes the government in income tax by calculating her net profit each quarter and then paying estimated taxes. She uses the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or EFTPS, a Web-based service provided free of charge by the U.S. Treasury.
Shannon says she wants others, especially in the African American community, to be well-equipped when it comes to managing tax issues. She has even penned a well-received book on the subject entitled For the Love of Money: The 411 to Taking Control of Your Taxes and Building Your Net Worth (iUniverse Inc.; $24.95).