Magazine article Black Enterprise

Slow & Steady Savings: Devin and LaShonda Foy's Early Start and Consistent Efforts Have Put Them and Their Daughters in Good Shape for the Future

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Slow & Steady Savings: Devin and LaShonda Foy's Early Start and Consistent Efforts Have Put Them and Their Daughters in Good Shape for the Future

Article excerpt


DEVIN AND LASHONDA FOY ARE A PICTURE-PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THE EASY way to save for retirement: start early and keep at it. With annual contributions of $20,000 toward both of their retirement funds, they've amassed almost half a million dollars.

The Foys, both 42, began contributing to their retirement funds when they entered the workforce as single professionals. Twenty years later, LaShonda, who works as a director for Assurant Specialty Property, a division of Assurant Inc., and Devin, a real estate agent for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers, through their combined salaries of $220,000, have nearly $470,000 in their retirement funds. Their portfolio is a mix of long- and short-term investments that also include domestic and international stocks and mutual funds along with real estate properties. The Foys re-evaluate their portfolios once a quarter, eyeing each investment's performance.

The Foys understand that how you save is just as important as how much you save. Every time they get raises at work, the extra money is deposited into their 401(k) accounts. "Retirement is wealth for life. You want your children to be better than you and at the same time you don't want to be a burden on your children when they're older, which is sometimes the way it is," Devin explains.

"We participate in seminars, watch investment strategies on TV together, and we have mentors in our life who give us good advice. We talk about the advice and then we make an informed decision. We also have a very good financial adviser and we utilize that advice as well," LaShonda explains, adding that diligence is very important.

"Our retirement savings combined with company 401(k) matching benefits, pension plans, and investment income position us to retire comfortably," says LaShonda. The couple currently employs a moderate risk strategy, as they would like to have a seven-figure savings when they exit the workforce in their early 60s.

Where their daughters are concerned, the couple started small, putting aside $50 a month in the account of their oldest daughter, Paris, 10, an exceptional student. As Paris got older and was no longer in daycare--which cost $1,600 a month for both girls--they took the extra money and increased the amount that went into her savings. They used the same strategy when they started contributing to 6-year-old Sydney's college fund in 2005. Currently, there's about $25,000 saved in Paris's account, and $12,000 in Sydney's.

Now, each month $300 is directly deposited into each of the girls' education savings account that's part of the State of Georgia-sponsored Path2College 529 Plan. The contributions are based on projected college expenses, which LaShonda estimates to be about $50,000 per year for each girl, or $400,000 total. The girls' grandparents also make biannual contributions to their college funds on birthdays and during the Christmas holiday.

"Based on their academic achievements I think they'll be offered some type of scholarship. Out of that $400,000, I estimate that we will pay only about 25% of that. My sister, brother, and I all went to school on scholarships," she says, pointing to the lottery-funded Georgia HOPE Scholarship Program, which offers scholarships to students with high GPAs, as a resource that could ease the expense of paying for college.

The Foys, whose respect for education motivated them to save toward their children's college savings, hope to reach their desired goal of $75,000 to $100,000 saved for each girl's fund by their respective 16th birthdays.

For the Foys, retirement and college planning simply came down to prioritizing. Like many Americans, the largest bill the Foys have is their mortgage. They currently pay a nearly $2,500-monthly house note for the six bedroom, 5.5 bathroom home in an upper-middle class Atlanta suburb, Suwanee, that they've lived in for nearly seven years. …

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