says Arlene. “But my parents were my capital. They led a simple life so that we didn’t have to, and they gave us what little they had.”
Today the Knights are able to enjoy their retirement, having spent a lifetime budgeting wisely. While they sacrificed, Theresa says, “We didn’t do without. We just worked and paid off things before we bought more.” The couple is less stringent about saving now that their youngest child, Johnnie Jr., is a graduating college senior. They spend their monthly $5,000 retirement income as they please.
Theresa taught her children to follow the same methods she used to amass her wealth. The principles appear elementary, but simple motherly advice is often best:
LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS
“Don’t try to keep up with every Tom, Dick, and Harry if you can’t afford it,” says Theresa. “Do your own thing at your own pace at your own time.” Though their children urged them to buy a new home, the Knights have remained in the same house throughout their entire marriage and instead chose to spend extra money on their children.
AVOID ACCUMULATING DEBT
“Don’t overdo it with credit cards,” advises Theresa, “and if you have debt, double or triple up on the payments until you pay it off.” The Knights have $23,000 in credit card debt from helping Arlene produce her film and lending their other daughter, Shelita Compton, money to pay off her loans. Always ahead of the game, Theresa pays at least twice the minimum payment on her credit card each month.
Perhaps one of the smartest things the Knights did was allocate a percentage of their income to a credit union account, making it an automatic savings device that allowed them to establish an emergency fund and an investment vehicle for the future.
Many people use what they consider to be a less-than-average income as an excuse for not saving money. Even when their joint income was just over $30,000, the Knights saved. “No matter how little you make,” says Theresa, “always try to save something for a rainy day.”