AT A VERY YOUNG AGE, MONICA PEART, 56, LEARNED THE value of saving and household planning from her parents, Vincent and Alberta Jones. Her father encouraged her to budget her future purchases one full year in advance. An accounting professor at Southern University and A&M College at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, her father taught her to sit down annually, organize the bills for the following year, and bundle them together for each of the 12 months since he was paid monthly.
"He even included his monthly dues for church," says Monica. "He would go to the post office and mail the bundle of bills. What I learned is budgeting and forward planning is a must. I now organize my bills well in advance and even pay ahead on some of them."
Monica took those principles to college when she enrolled at Southern University and to graduate school at Atlanta University She made sure to surround herself with like-minded people. Her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sister taught her how to do her own manicures, pedicures, and eyebrow waxing. When she purchased her first home, she cut her own grass.
"All of these things left me with lots of reserve cash to save," says Monica. I just always paid for necessary items, saved, paid my church tithes, and spent very little on unnecessary items." In 1994, a year before getting married, she and her then-fiance, Aston, 51, met a thrifty couple at their church who shared with them some tips on maintaining a frugal lifestyle. "They are very thrifty. They told us to never have a car note, how to get cars at a low price, get great deals at Goodwill, go on Craigslist and shop for clothes at the end of the season," says Monica. The Pearts consider this couple their financial mentors.
Like Monica's parents, Aston's parents taught him how to spend money wisely. Aldin and Honoria Peart did everything themselves. Growing up in Miami, Aston and his siblings were taught by their parents how to make shoes, repair air conditioning, do home renovations, and plant vegetable gardens.
Drawing on the advice of their parents and the couple who mentors them, Monica and Aston are committed to excellence in managing their household finances. They save 30% of their income as the owners of two daycares, invest 10%, pay their bills in advance, tithe 10%, and reserve about 5% for leisure activities. The couple has $60,000 in emergency savings, which took them about four years to amass. Their investment portfolio has $6 5,000 from a 401(k) that was opened in...