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Cheapest Family in America Tells Its Secrets

"Economides" may sound like a fictional last name in a book teaching kids about money, but it's in fact the fortuitous surname of the so-called "cheapest family in America." The Economides family, composed of parents Steve and Annette and their five kids, live in Arizona debt-free and on an annual income of about $44,000. Five of the seven family members were featured on a Today show segment yesterday that covered how the family handles Christmas spending, and spending in general. Find out more about this frugal family when you


The family doesn't use credit cards, paid off their first home in nine years when they were bringing in $33,000 a year, and their second home is almost paid off, too. Annette calls herself "the Warren Buffett of groceries," the two daughters say they buy brand name jeans but never pay more than $8 a pair, and one of the girls recently paid cash she saved for a used truck. The Economides do their Christmas shopping in thrift stores and explains that many Americans think things must be new for Christmas, as if new is equal to love.

They are now teaching others about being frugal and have a book called America's Cheapest Family. The Today Show host said that these ideas aren't new and that our grandparents used to do them, but they are new to us. The concept of living within or below our means is definitely not original, but kudos to this family of seven for doing it so successfully.

Join The Conversation
Chrstne Chrstne 8 years
My boyfriend and I are not frugal at all. We spend like 1,000 bucks just on alcohol a month, and another 1300 or something ridiculous on food (going out, etc). It's really stupid. This just made me call my boyfriend and say we need to live below our means, haha. I'm dead serious, too.
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 8 years
I think my boyfriend & I earn as much as that in a year -- and we're students! It's great that they live within their means and I know it's different everywhere but.. wow, sucks to be them!
thepradaprincess thepradaprincess 8 years
Sounds nice but I'm not putting away my credit card anytime soon or the expensive shoes.
runnergeek runnergeek 8 years
this story is interesting. but really it all depends on where your priorities lie. my parents could have paid off their house in 10 years too, but they chose to help me pay for my college education. in speaking with a tax accountant a couple of years ago, she told us that a good majority of people filing for bankcrupty (this was before the mortgage crisis) were victims of unpaid healthcare bills. healthcare is enormously expensive in this country...anyway, the point is..its not all black and white.
bleached bleached 8 years
My parents paid off their first home in 9 years on about that. It's all about where your priorities are. Every little extra they had went into the mortgage. Obviously, there were no big trips or really expensive things growing up but we made due. It is so shocking to me that the concept of living within your means is such a novel concept. I guess when you're the child of immigrants you see the world differently...
codewhiz codewhiz 8 years
I first heard about this family in a magazine called Budget Living. I miss that magazine, I'd love it if it could come back!
Spectra Spectra 8 years
Yeah, ilanac, I think it would be difficult to buy a home outright if you live in NYC or California or someplace where the housing market is insane. I live in Wisconsin and you can get a decent starter house for under $100K, so it's not unreasonable to get a house that's within your means. Of course, there are always those people out there who try to buy a house that they can't afford and end up getting foreclosed on anyway.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
huh - i want to know how they do it. the thing is that there are a lot of limits to what you can do when you're living in NYC or some other big city - since i can be as economical as i want, yet i don't find that i have the same kind of $$ to pay things off etc. to be debt free would be the ULTIMATE!
Spectra Spectra 8 years
It just goes to show that it's not how much you have, but what you do with it that counts. It's possible to pay your house down early, especially if you put extra $$ on your principle each month and do biweekly payments. Heck, we bought a house with a 15 year mortgage and we're going to be paying it off in 6-7 years, so yeah, it can be done. And then there are people that earn a lot more money than this family and are up to their eyeballs in debt and have 3 mortgages on their houses. And we wonder why we're in such a financial crisis right now?
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
We live off half of that (family of 4) and I only buy new clothes...I can't do the thrift store clothes...smells like feet in there. The household stuff, like knick knacks are great here. Lots of military families so the stuff is usually from other countries and states :D I haven't used credit for anything in 3 years. I just have to settle the debt I had. I'll be sure to read their book so I can stay on track though!
mondaymoos mondaymoos 8 years
Have to agree with skigirl. Call me shallow, but I like my THINGS.
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 8 years
show me a family who've done what this family has and THEN I'll be impressed.
daisyblink daisyblink 8 years
Living in Arizona is way different than living in California especially in the Bay Area.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
1. as if they surname is actually Economides 2. i need to know more info about how they paid off a house that quickly with such little income to be fair, there's no way they live in a house i'd aspire to live in or do things i enjoy doing and dress the way i dress...there's no chance, on that kind of budget. but it's a cool story.
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