When her husband lost his job as a mortgage underwriter at failed IndyMac Bank this July, one of the hardest moments for Jill Hofknecht was telling her 5-year-old daughter she couldn’t have a pet hamster.

All the accoutrements that the little rodent required — a cage, water bottle, food bowl, toys and food — would have strapped the family’s tight budget.

“We’ve discussed it,” says Hofknecht, 32, a New Jersey mom of two. “Emily knows that Daddy is looking for a new place to work — but that until he finds just the right place, we have to save money and be careful about where we spend it.”

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