No. of Recommendations: 7
Good Day All,

I will try to keep this as concise and to the point as possible however it is an emotional subject and one that has taken up the past few weeks worth of my free time. If you have some time, please read through and lend a hand. If you're strapped for time, bookmark this and come back, I would appreciate it. This WILL be a success story.

Background: Welcome to middle class America, NJ style. I myself am 22 years old, just graduated from college this past May, and have found myself immersed in the desire to learn more about personal finances, investing, and money in general. I have taken on a more conscientious approach to my own money management and have felt and seen the rewards already. This new knowledge led me to realize how poor of a situation my parents are in financially, and furthermore the effect this would have on the future of both my parents in retirement and my sister in her upcoming college years and beyond.

The law of the land has always been that Dad takes care of the money and whenever someone questioned that, the reply would be "Well you've always gotten what you've wanted haven't you? Then I don't see a problem." Now I will do everyone the favor of holding back my rant against my Dad. Lets just say that laziness pervades itself into every step of ones life. Rant over. Heckling and reminding him of all the mistakes he's made has no positive value in the upcoming challenge.

My parents (mainly my dad) have come to terms with the fact that I am learning about something that they never took the time to learn about and that I am a resource. It took a while but I have made some progress: I have almost 80% of my parents' financial information into Quicken. I have sat them down and shown them the graphs, charts, and In Your Face realities of their financial position. My mom didn't sleep well that night.

My Mom and Dad are 51 and 54, respectively. My Mom is starting her 30th year as an elementary school teacher. My Dad works in the Facilities Management department of a local medical school. They want to retire to Florida, where they plan to buy a home somewhere in the $200-230K range (***This is their mutual goal, and what I see as being the key motivator for their upcoming struggles which I plan to remind them about daily***). My sister graduates high school this year and plans to attend college out of state (doesn't seem possible). I am moving to the Virgin Islands come this October (nor does this seem possible, I can't wait!), and this is the main reason for my recent pushing of the subject with them. I want to leave knowing that they are on the right path.

I figure the best way to do this is to lay out as much of their financial picture, for you all to tinker with, as possible (aside from giving out their account numbers, very unFoolish). Like I said I don't have all of the information yet (my dad and I are planning to sit down tomorrow to get it ALL together). Here's what I have thus far:

* $77,400 Combined Net Annual Salary ($6450/month)
* No other sources of income
* None
Retirement Estimates
* Dad: NJ PERS Pension. $30,718/year @ retirement age of 61 (2011)
* Mom: NJ TPAF Pension. $47,427/year @ retirement age of 58 (2011)
* SS: $2600/month
* No 401's, IRA's, Nothing.
* $200,000 approx. market value
* 30 year mortgage (No data yet for this)

Debts: Credit Card

Card 01: $3,880 @ 23.99%
Card 02: $2,828 @ 25.9%
Card 03: $6,993 @ 24.99%
Card 04: $7,836 @ 19.99%
Card 05: $6,689 @ 24.99%
Card 06: $? @ ?
Card 07: $6,880 @ 14.99% (Revolving Credit Account)
Card 08: $? @ ?
Card 09: $4,685 @ 24.4%
Card 10: $? @ ?
Card 11: $962 @ 17.99%

Total: $40,755
On top of that there are a painful amount of finance charges, late fees, over limit fees, etc...

That's about the extent of what I know as of now, but either way it gives a rough overall picture.

Plan of Attack: New Jersey has a Pension Loan Program that I have recently discovered and I think it holds the key to tackling their debt. They are each allowed to borrow up to 1/2 of their total pension contributions, which is not to exceed $50K. Interest is fixed at 4% and the repayments are also fixed and deducted from their paycheck either on a monthly (Mom) or biweekly (Dad) schedule (not sure if it is pre or post tax, I am assuming post tax). Combined they can borrow $30,460 with the monthly combined repayments being $627. I see many advantages to this: No late fees due to automatic deduction. 4% as opposed to an average APR of 22.5%. Immediate payoff of $30K worth of debt and the subsequent interest savings. Improved credit rating (I hope). Learning to LBYM due to $627 less that comes in each month.

So this is what we are thinking:

1)Call the credit card companies and ask for a reduction in rates.
2)Take out the full $30K, pay off the highest rate cards with the $30K
3)Cut up said cards, close accounts.
4)Try to roll the remaining balances onto a lower rate card immediately
5)Learn to LBYM... probably the most difficult of all the tasks listed.

That is all we have so far in these beginning stages of our planning. There is so much more to consider and so many things that neither I, nor my parents are probably aware of (tax implications, paying for my sisters college, retirement costs, etc...); which is where you all come into play.

I have less than 1 month to get this plan organized and put into action. I won't be able to get on my dad about these things from the VI like I do while I am here at home, and I don't know if he has the discipline to maintain such a plan once it is implemented.

I've dedicated a large majority of my free time to this matter. I read the boards daily along with spending at least an hour a day learning about some aspect of finance that I did not know about the day before, usually this comes from The Fool or the IRS. I'm also providing my parents with all of the articles I read in hopes of educating them on the matter.

I understand that this was an incredibly long post, and if you've read this far I thank you. I have read the success stories from this particular board and I have this driving desire for this to be another one. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

-IslandFoolin (aka, Kyle)

"Give a boy a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach him to fish and you feed him forever."
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