Before Marriage, Couple Must Sort Through Their Financial Priorities

By George Erb
The Seattle Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Young people often contend with a blizzard of financial decisions as they form households and make plans for the future. All of this occurs when their earning power is lower because they are early in their careers. This article takes a look at one young couple’s attempts to get their finances in order.

SEATTLE

After deciding to get married in July, Suzie Kwon and Kevin Driscoll started thinking about combining their money, and their talk soon turned to shared dreams and obligations.

That’s when the Seattle couple’s financial anxiety began to rise.

Kwon, 31, and Driscoll, 30, want to save up for a house, pay off Kwon’s student debt and sock away money for retirement. They also want to plan for children and have enough money left over to travel.

That began to look a little overwhelming.

“It was a lot of little moving pieces all at once that we have to manage now,” Kwon said. “We wanted to get an expert’s opinion.”

As regular readers of The Seattle Times’ Money Makeover project, Kwon and Driscoll decided to apply for a free makeover.

The Financial Planning Association of Puget Sound worked with The Times and put out a call for a planner who would advise the couple at no charge. Trish Howe, a financial planner with an office in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, volunteered.

Young people often contend with a blizzard of financial decisions as they form households and make plans for the future. All of this occurs when their earning power is lower because they are early in their careers.

“It kind of comes down the chute all at once,” Howe said of the financial decisions facing young adults.
Fortunately, Kwon and Driscoll have chosen promising careers.

In December Kwon earned a master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Washington. She’s currently working as an on-call occupational therapist at a Seattle hospital. Her pay before taxes and withholding varies, but it averages about $72,000 a year.

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