In the midst of this “Great Recession,” a good number of Americans have resorted to ignoring money matters, clinging to hopes that they can begin saving, investing, and moving toward prosperity once the economic downturn ends.
Not true of Janice and Mark Blake. While the state of the economy has made them more cautious in their approach to household money management, the Blakes—Mark, 39, a New York City health department supervisor, and Janice, 36, a health administrator—have a frugal philosophy that they employ in fruitful economic years as well as in uncertain times. “We believe our parents gave us a step up, and our goal is to give our kids a step up,” says Janice. It’s a promise to their children, Christopher, 4, and Mikayla, 2.
The Brooklyn, New York, couple still applies the lessons they learned in their youth. When Mark was a child, his parents gave him an allowance along with money for completing chores. His parents used the earnings as a way to impart lessons about saving. Similarly, Janice gleaned two important financial principles from her parents: “Don’t lend what you can’t give, and don’t borrow what you can’t buy.”
The Blakes are putting those early lessons to work today. The family’s first rule regarding money: No debt. “You shouldn’t buy anything you can’t afford to pay for,” says Mark. As a result, the couple has no credit card debt and is working diligently to wipe out what remains of Janice’s student loan balance, roughly $2,500. The Blakes are sensible and live within their means, and because of the uncertain economy, they are even more conscientious about their shopping habits.
Now, if it’s not on the shopping list, they simply don’t buy it. Lately, they have become even more frugal, packing their lunches and preparing more meals at home. To avoid overspending, the Blakes keep an expense book where they document all their spending. Renting out an apartment on the first floor of their two-family home brings in additional income.
The Blakes’ strict money rules extend to their children as well. If Christopher says “I want that” when he sees something in a store or on television, Janice will ask him why he wants it, encouraging him to think about his request. She then references their shopping list to see if the item that he wants is there.