How To Teach Your Children About Money
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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(Photo by Nick Anthony)

Steve and Pamela Cromity possess all the trappings of upper-middle-class comfort. They own a home in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania; a time-share in Kissimmee, Florida; and employ a nanny to care for their son and daughter, Steve III, 12, and Christina, 10. For the Cromitys, the key to the good life isn’t the couple’s annual $150,000 income, although it certainly helps. The entire family avoids impulse purchases, they say. And when they do buy something, they bargain shop. What separates Steve, Pamela, and their children from most Americans of any economic level is a strict adherence to proper money management.

The Cromitys make every effort to never pay full price for anything. Last October, for instance, Steve paid $100 for a refurbished iPhone, when the retail price was $399. For Pamela’s birthday in September, he bought her a pre-owned iPhone from AT&T for only $50. And when the couple wanted to upgrade from a 32-inch to a 50-inch flat-screen television, they decided not to pay full price or use credit to buy it. It took a year and a half before they found a TV they wanted at a price they were willing to pay. In the end, they spent $750 for an $1,100 television.

“I believe in delayed gratification. You don’t get things that you want automatically, you wait until the time is right,” says Steve, 43, a staff architect and business development manager who earns $72,000 a year plus bonuses. “Everything that we get seems sweeter because we get it at a discount.”

Steve and Pamela apply the same approach to debt. “We have a substantial income but we still have to be conscious of every dollar, because we know it’s very easy to get ahead of yourself,” says Steve who pays more than the minimum payment each month on his debt. After Pamela received an M.B.A. in 1990 and Steve got an M.A. in 1993, they owed $70,000 in student loans. They have paid off all but $1,000. They plan to be rid of all debt, including their mortgage and home equity loan, in 15 years.

The Cromitys are teaching their children to enjoy the finer things in life while not paying top dollar. “We want to always have plenty, but we still want our children to know what it is to sacrifice,” says Steve. They also want the children to live graciously and give generously, says Pamela, 43, a senior pharmaceutical sales representative who brings home $67,000 plus $10,000 in bonuses.

So far, Steve III and Christina are following their parents’ lead. They each get $5 a week for allowance and bonuses of up to $20 per activity when they excel in academics or sports. Instead of spending his money on video games or clothing, Steve III saves it. Over the last year he has put away more than $300. “That is a significant amount of money for someone his age,” says his father. “He buys one thing that he really wants, but he will always reserve a considerable amount of cash.” He will even ask what chores he can do around the house to earn more money, says Steve.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.