The planners united behind an urgent message for the Steins: Stop being so blasé about that $39,000 in credit-card debt and start paying it off.
While Stuart likes having $17,000 in a savings account for emergencies, Cordaro says that money would be better used to help pay off their balances. "You're just giving money to the financial services industry," he says.
Cordaro suggests the couple then take out a $30,000 home-equity line of credit, part of which should be used to erase the remaining card debt; at recent rates of 8.25 percent, that will lower their monthly interest payments by $300.
The remainder of the credit line can serve as a temporary emergency fund until the Steins can pay off the HELOC and rebuild their bank account.
Next, Kauffman urges the couple to get serious about saving for retirement. Marni should contribute at least 5 percent of her salary to her 403(b) plan to get the full match her employer offers.
But both planners suggest the Steins postpone saving for college until they've paid off their debt - especially since one of the perks of Marni's job is that the university will pay at least 40 percent of her kids' college costs.