On Shaky Ground - Black Enterprise

On Shaky Ground

THEIR FIRST YEAR OF MARRIAGE WAS full of the magic of romance, but newlyweds Adriene and Rob Lambert must now face the reality of money matters. As much as they love each other, they have conflicting money styles: Rob is a spender and Adriene is a saver.

“We need to get on one accord. We need to come up with a financial plan that both of us can live with,” says 25-year-old Adriene. “I try to pay bills on time; he’s the opposite.” “I procrastinate because I’m so busy and then I end up late,” adds Rob, 30. Adriene realizes that their clashing money personalities were shaped long before they said “I do.” She grew up in a household where Money management was taught on a daily basis. Adriene, warned by her aunt of the danger of credit cards, never applied for one. Rob, on the other hand, says he inherited his father’s philosophy: It’s just money; you can always get more of it. That belief took root and grew into destructive spending habits. Explains Adriene, “He doesn’t just buy small stuff, but things like a $1,000 sound system.” “My dad never taught me about saving,” Rob says.

Rob earns $43,000 a year as an emergency medical technician for a hospital emergency room. Adriene, who has a master’s degree in finance, makes $45,000 as a financial systems coordinator, where she helps establish her company’s financial policies, procedures, and systems.

After the marriage, there were some financial surprises. Shortly after Adriene and Rob opened a joint account, he overdrew. His creditors got wind of the account, which only held a little more than $1,000, taking $1,300 for an overdue debt. “I was pretty heated. We’ve decided to keep our accounts separate until we get things sorted out,” says Adriene.

Rob’s tardiness in paying bills had a devastating impact when his 2007 Kia Rio was totaled in a car accident last November. Because Rob missed a car insurance payment one month, the car was not covered at the time of the accident, so they couldn’t file a claim. What’s more, Rob’s credit is such that he needs a co-signer in order to get a loan–one favor Adriene won’t grant. “I don’t cosign for anyone,” says Adriene, who doesn’t want to be stuck with a large bill if a person she co-signs for can’t pay off a debt. Adriene says it’s ironic that money is an issue given her background in finance. “It’s hard, and sort of embarrassing given what I do, because my own house isn’t in order,” she says. Rob is attempting to turn things around. “I