Cash Strapped Readers Spare a Dime for America’s Cheapest Family


It may have been published a couple of years ago, but Americans are now catching up to the message of Steve and Annette Economides and are eagerly plunking down their pennies for the hot home economics crash course.

america cheapest

The authors of America’s Cheapest Family have done remarkably well feeding their family of seven on just $350 per month, paying off their first house in nine years and purchasing a second, larger home, buying cars with cash, taking nice vacations, and yes, even socking away money in savings.


They’ve done so well, they are hitting the television news circuit including Inside Edition and receiving praised on numerous green websites to teach a fairly clueless nation the ABC’s of creating a comfortable, debt-free life. Forget the Joneses! It’s time to keep up with the Economides.

The couple, who live in Scottsdale, Arizona (a money-driven, rapidly built-up, energy-sucking environ), launched their popular bimonthly newsletter, The Home Economiser, in 2003 and have appeared in Good Housekeeping as well as on National Public Radio and Good Morning America.

Perhaps their message has been somewhat lost until the proverbial s–t hit the fan, sending many of us seeking advice from the successfully frugal among us, the ones who arrogantly yet wisely uttered I told you so as we maxed out our credit cards.

According to publishers marketing this new debtors’ bible:

“You don’t need to be a CPA or a math wizard to learn their revolutionary system, which will teach you:

– hundreds of ways to save money on everyday household expenses, including groceries, clothing, and health care
– how to save in advance for major purchases such as homes, cars, and vacations
– how to stop living paycheck to paycheck
– how to eliminate debt . . . forever!”

Oooh, that sounds good, real good to the masses choosing between lesser evils of selling their homes, getting night jobs that will take them away from their kids, and selling what they can from cars to gold and furniture – anything to stay afloat.

While the Economides’ disciplined road to penny pinching offers a way to avoid those evils, Nature Moms points out some of the methods may not sit well with the green among us, namely buying processed foods in bulk while forgoing more costly fresh fruits and veggies for the last two weeks of the month.

” I think families that eat lots of fresh, raw, whole foods would have a lot of adapting to do but the basic plan is a good one,” says the author of the site. “I would probably feel more comfortable doing bi-monthly shopping expeditions with weekly trips to farmers’ markets for fruits and veggies.”

One of the best chapters deals with clothes shopping and how buying stylish second-hand finds can help you stay within your budget and then some. And in terms of housing costs, they advise paying off your mortgage in less than 10 years.

For some of us the lessons have come a bit late, but not too late to try a new tack.

Images: Pink Sherbet, Amazon, Inside Edition

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.