Iâ€™ve read about Americaâ€™s Cheapest Family in various articles and posts but havenâ€™t really seen them in action till I caught a repackaged episode of 20/20 where they were once more featured. I cannot believe how a family of seven with children ages 10 through 21 are able to pull off living on an annual budget of $35,000. They are the aptly named Economides family from Arizona, and they are super-savers.
After watching their segment my main impression was that living that frugally indeed takes a lot of work, organization and effort, which would appear especially more challenging to the uninitiated. Some impressive facts:
- The family paid off their house in 9 years even as their income averaged $33,000 a year. Of course, the ease of pulling this off would depend on the original cost of their home.
- Steve Economides refers to himself as his familyâ€™s CEO or â€œCheap Economizing Officerâ€ and is a freelance graphic artist. Both he and his wife Annette operate the family business called â€œHomeEconomiserâ€ which offers a Web site and newsletter for frugal living.
- They spend $350 per month for food and disposable items covering paper goods, cleaning supplies and personal care items.
- A freezer is a necessity to them. They devote a few days a month to cooking all their family meals then store 13 to 17 meals in the freezer each time.
From their experiences, I picked up these lessons based just on what theyâ€™ve shared in their interviews and stories. To be able to stretch those dollars hard, hereâ€™s what they did: