I talked briefly with Leah on Friday, mostly to set up our schedule set for next weekend, when my husband and I will drive down to South Georgia on Sat and I will meet with Leah and Eric face to face for the first time. I am organizing my thoughts for what I'd like to cover while we are together.
I know I want to take them through Financial Planning 101, the basic philosophies that financially successful people live by, as well as getting them focused on the future. It's so important for couples to have some long-term goals to work towards together. For one thing, it helps them get past the hard times and have something to look forward to, but even more importantly, when couples have long-term financial dreams to work towards, it can help build stability and trust in a marriage.
So we will begin to put together a comprehensive financial plan for them, based on a worksheet of financial data that I've had Leah working on. We'll also discuss goals for the future -- like whether or not they plan for more children, buying a house, and retirement.
On the phone, I asked Leah what was outstanding on credit cards. Now that the house is hopefully off their backs, we can start to put together a plan to pay off debt. I started getting really worried as Leah shared the details of her debt. (Let's just say it is hard enough for a family to live on the $44,000 a year Eric is now making, let alone trying to put a dent into debt of the magnitude of Leah's and Eric's.)
They owe at least $25,694 in credit cards (Leah thinks Eric has more), almost $10,000 on a student loan, over $6,500 on a loan on their truck, more than $1,500 in medical bills from the baby's birth, and some other stuff. All together, it's over $45,000 -- more than a year's salary!
Since the team at Parenting has put together the experts, I am planning on asking them to look into possible debt reduction techniques. It is my understanding that some creditors are willing to negotiate a reduction in outstanding debt … but let's take this one step at a time.
Before all that though, something couples need (especially with young kids) is time alone. Although my kids are 13 and 17, I remember when my first child was one, and I craved a night out with my husband. So I've asked Leah to get a babysitter, and I am giving her a night out with Eric at the restaurant of their choosing. I just really want to do something nice for them!