How to blend families’ finances

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Marilyn and Ron

Marilyn and Ron of Brookville, Ohio.
The problem: Newlyweds Ron and Marilyn wish to coordinate their goals and manage debt.
The plan: The newlyweds need to pay off debt while saving money to meet different goals.
Money Makeover: Profile

Marilyn, 44, and Ron, 41, just recently married. They are trying to get a handle on their overall savings, spending and debt. To the marriage, they each bring two children, and in aggregate three cars, two houses, some credit card debt, retirement savings and Marilyn’s post-graduate school loans. They are concerned about managing their mutual finances, coordinating their goals and controlling their debt.

Both are employed in the public-service sector. Ron is a sheriff’s deputy for the county and Marilyn works for Children’s Services. Marilyn is finishing up her master’s degree in social work, which she thinks will help advance her career. She is concerned about the school loans she will have to pay off when her degree work is completed.

The problem