June 1, 2003
Organizing A Life Together
When a couple says “i do” on their wedding day, it’s not just two hearts that become one but also two household finances. In September, Eric E. Worley and his fiancÃ©e, Kimberly Palmer, will walk down the aisle, taking a major step in life — marriage. The Philadelphia couple doesn’t want to wait long after their nuptials to discuss money matters. As unromantic as the topic may seem, they are reviewing their financial situations now.
Together, the couple has a household income of $90,000. He grosses $55,000 a year working two jobs: a high-school counselor and a case manager for a juvenile home detention program. Her salary as a director of a daycare center is $35,000. During his college days, Worley managed to run up $15,000 in credit card debt mostly from living expenses, books, and car repairs. Looking to consolidate his debts into one payment, he took out a loan from a credit union. Since graduating in 1998 he has whittled down that debt to about $7,000. Meanwhile, he owes $8,000 in student loans, $3,000 on his car note, and $2,500 on an American Express Card. To his credit, last year Worley purchased the $64,000, three-bedroom home the couple lives in along with Palmer’s 9-year-old daughter, Diannah. While she has no credit card or personal debts, Palmer does have an outstanding $50,000 balance in undergraduate and graduate school loans.
The upcoming wedding is eating into the couple’s savings, making it a challenge to put aside money for the future. Even though her parents plan to chip in about half of the $10,000 bill for the wedding and reception, there are still the costs of the rings and the Jamaica honeymoon they’re fantasizing about — totaling another $5,000. However, they have less than $3,000 combined in their checking and savings accounts; they also have a little less than $8,000 total in their retirement accounts.
Worley, 27, and Palmer, 28, have developed their own financial styles and money habits over the years. Neither are big spenders. Worley, a Philadelphia 76ers fanatic, spends more money on social outings than Palmer, who might be tempted to shop once in awhile. Since the duo wants the marriage to start off on the right foot, they have set some priorities: pay off debt; save for the short-term; and invest for the long haul.
They are optimistic about reaching their financial goals. “I’ve learned hard lessons from my experience with credit cards. I don’t want to repeat my mistakes,” says Worley.
Worley and Palmer have lived together for nearly two years, so they don’t have to worry about newlywed issues such as who makes the bed or takes out the trash. To help the bride- and groom-to-be begin their life together on the right financial path, BLACK ENTERPRISE turned to Walt Clark, president and CEO of Clark Capital Financial, an investment firm in Columbia, Maryland.
“Kim and Eric are to be applauded for already having some investments in place. Many people their age haven’t done even as much as they have,” says