Chad and Wanda’s frugal lifestyle is paying off. The couple has about $17,000 in a savings account and they each maintain their own employer-sponsored retirement account; Wanda has a 401(k) and Chad has both a 403(b) and a 401(k). They paid off all their credit card debt in 2000, and have one car payment.
The Lassiters are relentless wealth-builders. In 2001, the couple purchased a foreclosed property in the East Oak Lane section of Philadelphia for about $88,500. The 4,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom house is now worth more than $350,000. The couple also own two rental properties in Philadelphia. “Rental income we receive goes toward paying the mortgage and other expenses related to the property,” Chad says.
As for the future, Wanda says she would like to expand her nonprofit organization and help disadvantaged youth realize their personal and professional goals. She says sharing some of her family’s personal and professional success with others is essential. “There is a tremendous need for young people to have role models to admire and aspire to become,” she says. “We want to share some of what we have attained professionally through our work in the community, the church, and with others.”
Use cash, never credit. “We paid off all of our credit cards back in 2000,” Wanda says. “If we don’t have the funds readily available in the checking account, then the item isn’t purchased until we can pay for it in full immediately.”
Resist frivolous spending. Is it really necessary to order lunch every day? Consider brown bagging it to work a few times a week instead and only go out for lunch or other occasions with co-workers once or twice a week.
Invest in real estate. Despite the tumultuous economy, the Lassiters still believe real estate is a wise investment. The couple own two rental properties and purchased their primary home in 2001 for about $88,000. Less than 10 years later, the home has nearly quadrupled in value.
Profit from your talents. Use your talents and skills to pursue other moneymaking endeavors. For example, in addition to their jobs, the couple operate two nonprofits, conduct workshops, and run a motivational speaking clinic from their home—thus utilizing their talents to generate additional income.
Plan for a rainy day. Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. The Lassiters look for savings and discounts on virtually everything they buy. The money they save is deposited immediately into an interest-bearing account. “We want to make sure that in the event one of us took ill for any reason, we still would be able to thrive,” Chad says.
This article originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.