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AZFamily KTVK - Jay Crandall College Degree without Debt

by Jay Crandall

Video report by Fields Moseley


PHOENIX -- It is supposed to be the road to success, but for some students, college can feel like the road to financial ruin. 

Dollar Stretcher How We Paid Off Our Home in Just 9 Years & Other Financial Feats

How would you like to pay off your first home in just 9 years? Or pay cash for your next car? How about spending less than half of what other families do on groceries? On this episode of The Dollar Stretcher Interview, meet Steve & Annette Economides, a couple who has done just that and much more to save big bucks for their family. Join us as we ask America's Cheapest Family how they managed these wonderful financial feats and see what they can teach you about frugality.

PopSugar - Run Your Family like a Business- Economides, Budget, Kids, Money, Savings Run Your Family Budget Like a Business

6 Money-Saving Tips From America's Cheapest Family

By Lisa Horten

The topic of financial planning may sound a bit dull, but when I heard about a family who paid off their first home in just nine years on an annual income of $35,000, my ears perked up. The Economides (as fate would have it, that is their real name) aren't your typical penny-pinchers. They're a couple who has mastered the art of smart saving and spending, even with a limited income and large family. When Steve and Annette Economides wed in 1982, Steve was working as a graphic designer, making $6.50 an hour, while his wife ran their home like a finely tuned, cost-effective corporation. As the years passed, Steve and Annette welcomed five children into their family, eventually putting them all through college without a single student loan. Intrigued yet? I sure was! Here's my takeaway from a conversation with America's (self-proclaimed) "cheapest family."

Run Your Home Like It's a Business

"We had a budget. We had a money management system that we sat down and committed to working with," Annette says of how the Economides set their household up from the get-go. "Every two weeks, we had a budget meeting, kind of like a business, and we figured our home should turn a profit. That's what we focused on."

Don't Let Your Kids Break the Bank

I was pretty amazed that the Economides were able to succeed with all of their financial accomplishments (especially that of sending all of their kids to college without a single loan) with not one, not two, but five children. That's a big family! When I asked them how they did it, Annette said that they really didn't have to alter their spending too significantly with the arrival of each new child.

"We've always focused on developing systems," Steve says. "Annette developed a hand-me-down system. She had boxes in the garage where the kids would put their outgrown clothes, so that when the next kid came along, we knew right where to get them. That saved us a ton of money on clothes."

Money Magazine - Time Inc Here’s How to Save Hundreds on Groceries

These 29 surprising and easy moves will help you find the best prices, avoid the sneakiest store tricks, and prevent those costly impulse buys.

Regardless of whether you’re feeding just yourself or a whole family, you probably find that groceries take a big bite out of your paycheck.

Food is the third-largest household expense, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. And for a family of four, the average monthly tab runs between $568 for the super thrifty to $1,293 for those on a more liberal budget, according to the USDA.

The Marie Osmond Show MARIE - The Marie Osmond Show on Hallmark

We had a wonderful time chatting with Marie before our segment. As the mother of eight children she totally understands the value of training children to work, earn and manage money. We shared some of the tools we've developed to teach our kids to learn to be financially independent.

Marie Osmond with Steve & Annette Economides



The MoneySmart Family System on the Marie Osmond Show

The USDA estimates that it will cost parents almost $260,000 to raise child from birth to the age of 17

Steve & Annette Economides, known as The MoneySmart Family, saved more than 1 million dollars raising their 5 kids. And the money they did spend was invested in their kids to train them to become financially independent.

They developed a system over a period of several years called MoneySmart Kids and describe it in their book The MoneySmart Family System.

Most parents are unaware of the consequences of the 5/50/500 rule. Basically any time you pay for something for your child without allowing them to earn all or part of it you fall victim to the escalating rule.

The 5/50/500 Rule

$5 stage: Between the ages 0 to 5 it will cost you $5 every time you give in to your child

$50 stage: Between 6 and 11 it increases to $50

$500 stage: Between 12 and17 – the techno-stage (phones, iPads, computers) it increases to $500

$5,000 stage: Between 18 and 23 — the college years (tuition, cars, credit card bail-outs) it increases to $5000.

$50,000 stage: Ages 24 and beyond — the bail-out years (home foreclosure, car repossessions, divorces, custody battles, addiction rehab and weddings) it increases to $50,000

You can avoid the consequences of the 5/50/500 rule by training your children to earn, save, spend and give their money. It’s never to early or too late to start raising MoneySmart Kids.

Run your Family like a busines:

Read More... - Cut Your Grocery Bill and Your Debt

The average family of four spends anywhere from $584 to $1156 a month to put food on the table, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA obviously hasn’t heard of Steve and Annette Economides, the husband and wife duo behind Money Smart Family and the critically acclaimed book “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half.”

AZ Shine 90.9 Sally Barton and Roger Barton Portraits - with Roger & Sally Barton on AZ Shine 90.9

Do you have too much month at the end of your money?  Meet Steve & Annette Economides, they’ve been called “America’s Cheapest Family!”  They will share how you can not only survive but thrive and stop living paycheck to paycheck Saturday morning at 9:00 with Roger and Sally Barton on “Portraits – Snapshots of life, hope and faith.”

There are five segments in this interview:

1) Introduction / overview

2) Saving on Groceries

3) How to set up a Budget that works

4) How to get out of debt

5) Saving on clothes

Listen to the interview here

Here's the back story on Roger & Sally Barton. In 1982 when we were first married, we helped to run a young married's class at the church we attended. There were about 25 couples in the class and Roger and Sally were one of the couples. Roger worked for an insulation company and helped us save a lot of money on our heating and cooling costs by "blowing in" much better insulation into the attic of our first home. A few years later they moved to Tucson where Sally took a job with Family Life Radio. In 1992 we did a radio interview there with hosts Randy Carlson and Kevin Lehman, along with our friend and mentor Jody Humber - who had just released his first book, "Dollars and Sense." Sally was the producer of that program.

We lost track of Roger and Sally until 2014 when we received a call from Nancy at AZ Shine Radio who wanted us to come to Prescott to do a one hour interview! Sally is now the station manager of listener supported AZ Shine 90.9! There are so many more connection points that we could share. Roger and Sally are true shining lights and beacons of hope to the community and the world!

It was a great opportunity to catch up and get reacquainted. We laughed and laughed at the different connection points we've had in the past and about where God has taken us all in recent years.  


Here's radio host Kelly's recipe for homemade laundry detergent. She says that she made two batches that have lasted her several years!


I’ve talked about making cleaners and whatnot, but I have never really shown how absolutely EASY it is. So let’s get on about easy.

Here is everything you will need for prep.

1 – Emptied and clean liquid laundry detergent containers. Save them as you go or ask if any of your friends have any.

Deseret National News No loans: How to graduate from college debt-free

Rachel Cruze, the daughter of financial guru Dave Ramsey, really wanted to go to Auburn University, which to outsiders wouldn't seem like much of a problem. Ramsey's financial success meant the family could pay for any college she wanted.

"But we live out what we preach," says Cruze.

Ramsey told her they would gladly pay the cost of four years of in-state tuition. She would pay anything beyond that.
"I thought that was harsh," Cruze says.

But then she discovered it cost three times more at Auburn University in Alabama than college in her home state of Tennessee. And the education was not three times better, she says.
"I thought, 'Wow! My parents are smart,'" she says with a laugh. "Going to that college didn't make any financial sense."

And so she went to the University of Tennessee and graduated debt free.

This makes her rare. Seven out of 10 students graduate with student loan debt averaging $29,400, according to the Institute for College Access and Success, an education research nonprofit. In June 2010, student loan debt passed credit card debt, and now is $1.08 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve.

With rising college costs, it isn't a wonder many turn to loans. The Department of Education says the average cost of a public, four-year college degree rose from $16,900 in 2000 to $23,200 in 2012. And that's adjusting for inflation. What's worse, the "total" cost doesn't include the interest students will pay over the life of their loans.

Many may feel the cost is worth it; Pew Research Center found millennials in 2013 with college degrees made median annual earnings $17,500 more than their peers who only graduated from high school.
But even with so many resorting to student loans, Cruze, who just finished co-authoring the new book "Smart Money Smart Kids" with her father, insists that graduating debt free is not something that is just for those with well-to-do parents.

Normal is crazy

Michelle Singletary, personal finance columnist for The Washington Post, agrees that student loans are not necessary and teaches to people at her church in the Washington D.C. area how to go to college without debt.

"They look at me like I must be from Mars," she says. "They actually get belligerent. They can't conceive of having to save enough for college. And even parents who have saved take out loans."

Singletary says many people do not save precisely because they know student loans are available.

"Can you see how crazy that is?" she says.

Cruze says a friend of hers went to college so she could get a dream job. But when that dream job became available, her friend had to turn it down. The job wouldn't pay enough to live and still pay the minimum student loan payments.

The Malaysian Star Be Cheap, but not Too Cheap!


The Economides have found fame as America’s Cheapest Family, surviving on half a normal family’s budget, but many of their frugal methods do make sense. Malaysians can learn a thing or two from them.

THOUGH there are many people in the world truly deserving of the unflattering title, “cheapskate”, a family in the United States has found ways to stretch the boundaries of extreme frugality without going overboard.

A few years ago, the story of Steve and Annette Economides made headlines when people learned of how their family of seven could survive on half the grocery budget of the average American family.

Though it is by sheer coincidence that their surname sounds like the word “economy”, the frugality of their methods bordered on the extreme.

The Economides family plan and do their grocery shopping once a month, buying only items that are heavily discounted and plan an entire month’s worth of meals based on what they buy.

So effective have their methods been that they found success in releasing a book “The Money Smart Family System” and giving talks on sharing their frugal practices all over the United States.

Between purchasing marked-down foods near its expiration date for freezer storage and not letting a single supermarket coupon go to waste, the self-bestowed title of “America’s Cheapest Family” is well justified.

Although we have yet to identify a Malaysian counterpart to this, many Malaysian families have simple tips and ideas to save a little money on your grocery expenses to put you in the running.

According to some, it pays to look at local wet markets for things like meat and fresh produce.
“I usually go to the wet market because the groceries that I can get there are much cheaper than at the supermarket,” said 58-year old homemaker Alyssa Tay.

“If it’s possible, choose local produce over imported ones and try to buy those that are in season.”

Or in the case of meat products, local butchers and delis may offer better prices for items of similar quality.

Tay’s daughter, Kelly Ch’ng, 26, helps out with the grocery shopping and adds that one foolproof method to avoid overspending is to stick to a shopping list and make sure that they do not buy unnecessary items.
Homemaker Hartini Mohd Saleh agrees with this method, saying that practising moderation in their shopping is great to ensure that they live within their means.

“However, if I have coupons for the items I could use or if those items are on sale, I will certainly think twice about buying more of it,” said Hartini.

Bob Blayter, Debra Caldwell, Lynda Hammond, Steve Economides, Annette Economides Financial Hope Conference - Recap

Garage Sale Gal
Financial Hope Conference Follow-Up
By Lynda Hammond

Maria Salter came to learn how to save money and make a budget. And after attending the Financial Hope Conference she got that and more. “You’ve re- energized me and inspired me. Just listening to you made me want to go garage saling again,” the Gilbert
resident said. In fact, even on the way home from the conference Maria stopped at two garage sales, buying a relaxation sound contraption for $5.

The conference was a joint effort between local experts on ways to keep more money in your pocket by spending less and saving more.

Bob Blayter is an associate pastor of a Gilbert church as well as a budget planner. It was his idea to gather me and several others to form the group. He says our first event was a success. “I would rate it very good to excellent. Most of the comments we’ve gotten (from the attendees) are that they wished the event was longer. And that’s a good sign,” Bob tells me. Maria agreed.

She had wanted to hear more about saving dollars at the grocery store from Steve and Annette Economides—also known as America’s Cheapest Family—and setting a budget and maybe even a few more of my garage sale adventures. “I liked your stories. There’s nothing like a good story where someone buys something at a garage sale and it’s worth a ton of money,” Maria says.

The conference included four topics surrounding money saving tips. It ran for four hours and included dozens of tips and a question and answer time. I also included a show and tell with some of my garage sale finds. There sure are some treasures I wish I could share with everyone but they’re just too big to lug around—like the 1900’s huge solid wood table with carved and turned legs and wheels on the bottom. Paid just $10 for it and the owners delivered it for free! And had to leave the 6-ft round mirror with wooden frame at home too—paid $40 for it. (Maybe next time the conference should come to my house!)

Nancy Ray opted to attend the event when she just couldn’t shake the “feeling that I had to be there”. “I just had to find out what it was about. It was like I was supposed to go. I was supposed to be there,” says Nancy, also a Gilbert resident. Nancy says she loved the presentations on getting debt free and saving at the grocery store. “I was jumping up in inside myself with all the information I was hearing. It was so empowering,” Nancy adds.

Now, if you’re kicking yourself for not going to our event. Never fear. According to our leader, we’re planning more in the future. “Oh absolutely we’re going to have another one. I would want to shoot for six months. Twice a year would be great, Bob says.

So keep reading this column to watch for the date of the next Financial Hope Conference.



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