Welcome to AskMarkJones.com – my venue created to share stories that present principles and fundamentals that I believe create a foundation for a rewarding lifestyle.  Principles and fundamentals that I have learned and continue to learn from those who I have come in contact with over my 26 year (and counting) banking career at Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution, and from the many other associations that I have.  These are ideas that I wish people had shared with me long ago but thankfully, all are lessons that I have learned or continue to learn along the way.

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I am married to Barbie Jones, my bride for the last 20+ years.  I still remember walking into the room all those years ago for a blind date, set up by Kim and Michael Sawyer, her sister and brother in law (and two of my closest friends), and seeing the most beautiful girl I could imagine sitting on the couch.  The following couple of years have to be the best sales job of my life – either that or she just had a weak moment when I proposed.  In any event, she is still tolerating me and is the mother of our two … well, I don’t know what to call them any longer, teenagers I guess – at least for a little while longer.

Chris is a freshman at the University of Maine at Orono studying business and marketing – for now anyway.  He is waffling a little as to what direction he really wants to go – but he has plenty of time to figure it out.  I am going to miss coaching his baseball team, watching him compete on the basketball court, etc., but time marches on.

Olivia is a junior at Biddeford High School.  Fortunately for her she got her mother’s beauty.  As with any father/daughter relationship, she is the apple of my eye and is a real keeper.  I still keep my shotgun by the door and polish it while she introduces any boys to us.  So far so good – she hasn’t kept any around too long.

My parents, married for over 50 years.  Wow- enough said I guess. A sister, Kathy and two nephews, who mean the world to me. My mother-in-law – she is an inspiration – and her ten kids and their spouses and their kids, and their kids… phew, talk about going from a small family to a big one – I’ve lost count of how many of us there are now – it just keeps growing.

Well, I started at the bank over 26 years ago which doesn’t seem possible.  I recently spoke at a high school event and told the students that it seems like just yesterday that I was sitting in their seats.  I think many of us can or will say the same thing at some point.  Time certainly flies by and many of us also look back and say, “I wish someone had shared that with me earlier in life.”

So much of what I write about and talk about is fundamental but it is information that if used will nearly guarantee long term success.  But, it seems that so many people want to skip the basics and talk about advanced topics.  I was one of those people.  I graduated from college and started at the bank as a loan officer trainee.  With no mentor to really teach me the fundamentals I soon jumped into the real estate market and various investment markets.  By the time I was 26 years old I owned six parcels of real estate, had a nice stock portfolio and, was on my way to financial independence.  Ah, but without truly understanding the basic principles of success I lost it all during the next economic downturn.  In hind sight it is one of the best things that could have happened to me.  It was both humbling and grounding, but most importantly, it forced me to increase my financial intelligence.  I came to realize what is most important in life.  I also gained a better understanding of the significant role that money plays in the various areas of our lives.  Wow, what a difference that knowledge has made in what I have been able to accomplish.

Twenty-six years after starting at the bank I am now the senior vice-president of retail lending directing the efforts of our nearly half billion dollar mortgage and consumer lending department.  Over this time span I have been involved in the decision making process on over 25,000 loan requests.  Though my undergraduate degree is in economics, I consider my time at the bank my PhD in what it takes to be successful.  From those I am blessed to have met over the years I have learned how to do things correctly, but sadly more often than not, how not to do things.

This site, the Simple Cents essays, and all the information provided here, is my way of giving back all that I have been so fortunate to have learned over the years.  These stories and principles will provide a foundation for a successful future if put into practice.

I hope you find the information as valuable as others who have shared their comments – and I hope to hear from you as well.

– Mark