Twenty-five years ago, Steve and Annette Economides ventured down a path that has taken them far from the social norm. They decided to buy less and live more simply.
“Not having to constantly earn more so we can buy more, so we can have more, has allowed us to follow the passion that God has laid on our hearts,” Steve says.
This couple not only lives a simple lifestyle, but they also teach it to others. From the beginning of their marriage, their thriftiness has been a mainstay of their everyday lives. With it, God has blessed them with TV appearances on major networks, a New York Times best-selling book and a loyal fan base of frugal followers. They also paid off their first mortgage in nine years and now have only 5 percent left to pay on their second home.
Two plaid couches
Steve and Annette support a family of six on a yearly salary of $35,000 and have agreed never to use credit cards. When a need arises, prayer and patience determine whether the “need” is really just a “want.”
“Are we going to run to the Giver of Life or run to the giver of credit? We choose to wait for God,” Steve says.
One of Steve’s favorite stories involves two brown and orange plaid couches that he and Annette purchased for $25 from missionaries leaving the United States. They kept those couches until God, in His perfect timing, delivered a paycheck bonus that allowed them to purchase beautiful new couches. They even got a discount.
“The neat thing about living within God’s portion is that He always meets our needs and sometimes even our wants at the right time, in unexpected ways,” Steve says.
A converted tightwad
Tawra Kellam is another champion of frugal living. Suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, this wife and mother of three was forced to rely on her husband’s yearly income of $22,000 to support their growing family. Frugality became a necessity.
“We lived only in houses we could afford. We drove cars that were five to 10 years old so we had to pay only around $3,000 for each of them.” By living simply, the Kellams paid off $20,000 in debt and medical bills in five years. Simple living didn’t come easy. The Kellams evolved into a frugal family.
“My husband was a big spender before we married, so he had to convert [to frugality], which took three or four years,” she says. “He didn’t like it at first, but now he’s almost a bigger tightwad than I am!”
For Michelle Silsby, changing her family’s lifestyle was simply about obeying the Lord. “God impressed on me that we needed to simplify and de-stress our lives, and we would be blessed.”
Michelle and her husband, Michael, lost 40 percent of their income when they decided she should be a full-time mom and he should become their church’s media director.
“Breaking habits has been the hardest part, not the lifestyle itself. It’s fun for me because I look at it as a challenge,” Michelle says.
Eating out less and discovering affordable family entertainment became high priorities, including compromises between simple living and keeping up with technology. “By the very nature of his job, Michael loves modern technology, and we try to strike a balance.”
For these families, getting back to the basics granted them a level of joy and satisfaction that keeping up with the Joneses cannot match. They have learned that God’s plan for us is abundance, not want or worry. Simple living doesn’t require that we suffer with tattered clothes and worn-out furniture. It is merely being thoughtful with what we have.
This article first appeared in the Couples Edition of the March, 2008 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2008 Dawn Michelle Michaels. All rights reserved.
Dawn Michelle Michals yearns for the simple life from her modest home in central Texas.