As a social worker, Philadelphia native Chad Dion Lassiter is used to encouraging people to take risks. He often pushes people to explore new ways to overcome obstacles in both their personal and professional lives. Lassiter’s view of risk-taking, however, doesn’t extend to how he handles money. He and his wife, Wanda, are careful and thrifty in their spending habits.
Chad, 37, works as a senior researcher at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is also an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice and guest lecturer at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He’s also co-founder and president of Black Men at Penn School of Social Work Inc. Wanda, 45, is a high school nurse and the executive director and founder of a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization called FAMILY (Fostering, Adopting, and Mentoring to Improve the Lives of Youth).
Early in the couple’s 10-year marriage, Wanda and Chad established a frugal lifestyle and agreed to keep a watchful eye on their monthly budget. The only problem: With no children, few major financial obligations, and an annual household income of about $225,000, they were often confronted with temptations to splurge on the frivolous and unnecessary. But they work together diligently to carefully monitor what comes in and goes out each month from their joint checking account.
As one of eight children, Wanda says her modest upbringing set the foundation for her careful spending habits today. “My mother didn’t work and my father worked several jobs in order to take care of us all,” she says. “We always were told to eat everything on our plate and never waste anything.” Wanda adds, “I still clip coupons, shop for sales, and buy things in bulk.” Chad also came from modest means—a single-parent household—where money was tight and family members frequently instilled the value of a dollar. “My mother raised my older brother, Kyle, and I to always be prepared for a rainy day,” he says. “She had separate savings accounts for each of us for as long as I can remember.”
Chad says his tendency to occasionally splurge during the first few years of their marriage was often tempered by Wanda’s rational handling of the family budget. “She was much better with budgeting and managing money,” he says of Wanda. “She would say to me, ‘Do you really need that DVD, CD, or three of those watches?’ And she was usually right.” Now, they support one another when one of them is struck with the urge to overspend. “We try not to make compulsive purchases,” he says.
The Lassiters also make it a point to shop off-season for items such as clothing. They do all of their banking online, Chad says, because “this allows us to get a clearer picture of what we have and what our spending patterns are each month. If we can’t afford an item, then it isn’t purchased.”