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America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams Paperback – January 16, 2007
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There's no doubt that today's families can use some help in balancing the household finances, and the Economides family, headed by a former ad sales exec and his homemaker wife, deliver the goods here. To an extreme. As founders of the HomeEconomiser newsletter, the couple offers plenty of helpful tips on shopping and menu planning, saving, reducing debt, and cutting back on utilities. Most of Middle America, however, will probably find their habits overly harsh. Take, for instance, their shopping routine: they make one monthly trip to the grocery store, which takes up to five hours but costs them only $350. By freezing such items as milk, bread, and cheese for later in the month and using the more perishable fruits and veggies early in the month (saving such things as apples and carrots for the latter weeks), the Economideses feed themselves and their five children based on this one trip. Even though some tips advocate what others might consider garbage picking and mooching, any family with money issues will find useful information here. Especially helpful are their household budgeting techniques, adaptable to any home. Mary Frances Wilkens
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
“Of all the how-to-do-it books ever written, the best and most constructively useful are the Bible, Voltaire’s Candide- and this one. The time is right, right now, for somebody to give us all a top sergeant lesson in practical economics: ‘There is no free lunch.’ Congratulations, Annette and Steve Economides: I pray your readers will practice what you teach.”
- PAUL HARVEY, legendary American radio broadcaster and host of The Rest of the Story on the ABC Radio Network
“If your family is struggling with debt or you find yourself spending more money than you can legitimately afford, pick up and READ this book today! Implement the strategies you find and enjoy a lifetime free of financial anxiety!”
- Glinda Bridgforth, financial coach, Oprah Debt Diet consultant, and bestselling author of Girl, Make Your Money Grow! and Girl, Get Your Credit Straight!
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My husband and I have been married a little over three years, and during that time I thought I was pretty good at handling our finances. As it turns out, I was overconfident and my husband was too afraid to look at our bank account numbers. We were in debt. But thanks to God's Providence and this book, we have gained control over our finances. Within a week's time we started implementing almost every strategy in this book. Now we can look forward to building enough savings to consider a new home together! We are so much more excited about our future now, and I owe it to the authors of this book. The family seems so sweet and down-to-earth. I really appreciate their work from the bottom of my heart!
Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Economides!!!
Here is the REALITY you have to face before you even buy this book:
To get the full benefit of this book, you do need to be willing to buck certain attitudes that are part of our society. The Economides family is willing to get clothing from the thrift shop. When your child comes to you and asks to have those designer jeans, will you have the courage to say "No" or will you cave in? Can you put off impulse buying? Are you willing to take the steps necessary to stay out of debt? Read the chapter on Attitude and if you think you don't have the guts to commit to a new attitude (and don't fool yourself, it does take guts), the this may not be the time for you to buy this book....just don't wait till you are drowning in debt to see the light. I personally think that one chapter is the MOST valuable one right there.
One MAJOR advantage of this book is that it offers options, depending on your comfort level with saving money. You can opt to be a bit frugal or save every spare penny. If you need to take some baby steps before moving to the next level - or just stick with a certain level of savings - each chapter offers options. Clearly, this family understands that not everyone can commit to their value system and they give a nod to those people. I found that refreshing and different.
It is not an "all or nothing" book, although the family themselves describe how far they'll go to save money. They get by on about 35K a year and have 7 children, so it doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out that they have to be cutting back in a MAJOR way.
We don't save quite as drastically as they do. Even so, we have learned a lot from this book. One of the most important facets of a longterm savings plan is maintaining the right attitude and not giving in to peer pressure or temptation. When I feel like I'm weakening, I turn to this book and am inspired again.
I must disagree, however, with their notion that many people can do without a computer. So many of us now pay our bills online, use the computer as an electronic newspaper, bank, post office and reference desk. Plus, using the computer to print coupons, compare prices or buy household goods in bulk saves gas, stamps, time and money. I think the average person can save MORE money by owning a computer than not. If, of course, the computer itself is fully paid for.
Shortly after purchasing this book I followed two suggestions: set up a budget (took half an hour) and set up a Rainy Day account at the bank (took 15 minutes). I always thought myself frugal -- there's no car payment, all our clothes come from thrift stores, (but you would never know it), and we cook from scratch and make most of our own car and household repairs. I didn't see how we could save any more money than we already were. But we are. Little did I realize we could wrap up each month with a surplus. But we are. Not much, but a surplus nonetheless. (I followed the Economides's "windfall" suggestion: all the "found" money goes into the rainy day account, that is, the small checks you get for refunds, reimbursements, rebates and tips, etc. You get more of this kind of money than you realize.) And, if I adhere to their advice, I will be able to say I am debt-free in 15 months, not four years.
Many of the tips and strategies in the book are for families with children. I can't speak to the efficacy and practicality of those, but upon skimming that information I came away thinking their five children have pretty darn good lives. It doesn't appear that they stood out at school by looking like they were wearing castoffs or eating homemade gruel in the cafeteria every day.
As another reader said, you can recoup the price of the book on one trip to the grocery store. My family is not as big as theirs and our income much smaller, but I learned how much money I was wasting on 4-5 trips to the grocery store every week.
This one worked for me. It was painless, and adopting the strategies does, as Steve and Annette suggest, become a game after a while. It's always fun to save money, and there is a richer, fuller life to be lead under those mountains of debt and those heaps of dusty and unused possessions.