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Personal Finance > Millionaire in the Making
Millionaires in the making: early birds
The soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. Whipp see financial planning as an investment in their future family.
June 23, 2004: 4:33 PM EDT
By Deshundra Jefferson, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Douglas Whipp and his fiancee Kathleen Kaiser are planning an August wedding and a life filled with financial responsibility.

The pair met as freshmen at Ohio State in Columbus where they lived in the same dorm.

"We would go out as groups, and slowly but surely, I became friends with her," Douglas said.

At the time, Douglas was majoring in international business, before switching to management and information science in his sophomore year. Kathleen was enrolled in a five-year program for industrial and systems engineering.

After graduating last March, Douglas began his career as a systems analyst for an insurance and financial services company, while Kathleen, who finished her degree this March, will soon start working as a project engineer for an auto glass service firm.

Few 24 year-olds are thinking about long-term financial planning and retirement, but the soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. Whipp are firmly grounded.

"I don't want my kids to worry about their futures or going to college," Douglas said, who listed security as his top financial goal.

Chances are they won't have to.

With a combined income of $97,000 a year and no consumer debt -- not even a student loan -- the two are focused on building their net worth one investment at a time.

Their love doesn't cost a thing

Kathleen's father is paying for the wedding, but the two are picking up the tab for her wedding dress and their week-long honeymoon in Hawaii.

"He's an old-fashioned, traditional father and he is going to pay for everything he feels responsible for," Douglas said.

Still, the two are helping her parents save money where possible. Kathleen and her mom are buying flowers wholesale and plan to make the centerpieces for the 150-guest wedding themselves.

She bought her own dress from Altar Bound Bridal in her Xenia, Ohio, hometown for $350. And as for that Hawaiian honeymoon, the couple has planned a post-nuptial retreat for roughly $5,000 including airfare for two, accommodations, and a rental car.

Kathleen has four siblings but says her family paid for most of her college tuition. Her father, a retired engineer, is very active in investing and managed to instill solid financial values in his children.

"I come from a fairly conservative family," Kathleen said. "We're not big spenders either."

That is one of the things that made her attractive to Douglas.

"One of her big pluses was her financial savvy," he said. "Her family taught her the value of a dollar, and I knew she wouldn't take anything for granted."

Douglas started investing when he was 14 years old, after his grandfather bought him 100 shares of Procter & Gamble, and encouraged him to read the newspaper every day to track the progress of the stock.

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Today, Douglas has $17,300 tucked away in his company's 401(k) plan, $6,500 in his IRA, and $3,300 in his savings account. He maxes out his IRA and 401(k) contributions, with the latter earning him a 50 percent match on the first 6 percent he contributes.

Additionally, he adds $1,500 each month to his online brokerage account which now has a $10,000 balance.

Kathleen is starting to get into the game with $7,500 stashed in a money market account. She plans on opening an IRA in the next several months but for now is kicking off her retirement savings by contributing to her 401(k) once she becomes eligible July 1.

Waiting for forty

If the Whipps-to-be continue to save at the same rate, they will be millionaires by their early forties, assuming a modest 9 percent rate of return.

Although they are currently a two-income family, there's a possibility they will only be living off of one income a few years down the road.

"I like having a big family and I like being around her big family," Douglas, an only child, said.

The couple is looking into buying their first home with a FHA mortgage loan, a HUD-backed program that helps first-time and low-income homebuyers purchase their first house. Downpayments can be as low as 3 percent and interest rates are often more favorable than those for conventional loans.

Although they can afford a $350,000 home, they want to stick to the $200,000 range so when the kids come along meeting those mortgage payments with only one income won't be a stretch.

Living well, Douglas believes, isn't about what you owe or how much you make.

"You don't have to have a well-paying job to be well off," Douglas said. "[My grandfather] took what he had and he was smart with it. I took good note of that."  Top of page

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