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Sometimes it’s good to be cheap: money-saving tips from a “cheap” family

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Be Cheap!

Steve and Annette Economides are known as America’s cheapest family, and they didn’t get that label by stiffing waiters or bringing cheap bottles of wine to house parties. The Economides (yes, that’s their real last name, but it’s pronounced econo-mee dis)have developed a method to save money as a family, and they shared a few tips with CBS Arizona affiliate KPHO to help every family around the country cut back on spending.

Teach kids the value of money at a young age
The Economides wrote a book called “the MoneySmart family system,” and one of the main points is about teaching children the right way to go about learning and saving money. The couple believes that if parents show their children smart money-saving habits at a young age, it can help set the right mood for the entire family.

“We would normally spend money on them,” Steve said of his children. “I mean how many parents would normally give their kids $20 to go to the mall? So what we said was, okay, we’re going to give them money anyway, let’s have them earn it.”

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Setting up a point system is one way the Economides got their kids excited about earning and saving money. Their children would earn a set amount of points for completing a chore around the house. At the end of the week, they could turn those points in for money.

The family found a reward-based system helps children learn to budget at an early age. Steve also said their goal is by the time their children turn 11, they should be able to afford to buy their own clothes. By the time they turn 16 and are ready to drive, they should be able to pay for their own car and insurance.

“Remember we’re slowly transferring the weight of adult responsibilities to the kids so that by the time they’re 18, they’re ready to go to college and they know how to manage larger amounts of money,” Steve said.

The Economides understand that not every 16-year-old will be able to afford their own car. Annette said that even if they can’t purchase vehicles when they get their licenses, it’s wise to have them pay their own car insurance for accountability reasons.

“It’s real important that kids pay for their car insurance because then if they decide to speed and they get a ticket, their car insurance goes up and they bear the consequences for those decisions,” she said.

Paying off debt
The interesting take on savings doesn’t end there for this family. When managing debt, they told ABC affiliate KNXV to write down every person or establishment they owe money to, no matter the amount. They disagree with the many financial experts say to pay off high-interest debt first.

“Don’t worry about interest rates because you have more success if you simply knock off the smallest balance,” Annette said.

Steve suggests getting a second job, working overtime or looking around the house for unused items that you might be able to sell in order to help pay off debt. He said the family recently sold a 3-year-old textbook for $30.

Saving on daily costs
The average family of four spends $800 per month on food, or roughly $9,600 per year, according to WTVM.

Annette told KPHO that one simple way to trim a family’s food bill is to take inventory of what is already stocked in the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets before heading to the grocery store. She said most people have more in their house than they realize, so searching through their pantries reveals a lot of forgotten items.

Remember, adopting even one of these money-saving tips could make a big impact on you budget. Try adding one at a time, and be sure to track the difference it makes each month.


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Ms. Seeger is a VP/Financial Center Manager for UMB Arizona. She is responsible for leading the sales and client experience teams in the financial center as well as business development. She has 14 years of experience in the financial services industry. She is a member of the Young Professionals Scottsdale Cultural Council Committee and is takes an active leadership role in the Scottsdale community.

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