People Magazine — The Frugals

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We were surprised when People Magazine contacted us. We aren’t celebrities — never have been and never want to be.

We just want to be a family that encourages the world that living simply and frugally creates a rewarding, fulfilling, and fun life.

It amazes us that people in the world are amazed at our lifestyle. We have fun and laugh a lot and they just can’t figure out why.

Is it possible that people who have all of the stuff that the world says really matters are missing out on the things that stuff can’t buy? Things like peace, joy love, and relationships?

Meet the Frugals


Vickie Bane People Magazine in our kitchen, steve economides, becky, joe, abbey, Annette Economides
Here’s a photo with Vickie Bane in our kitchen just before she left our home.
gregg siegal photographer, abbey, joe, becky economides
Gregg Segal (photographer) with the kids (Abbey, Joe, and Becky) unloading groceries from the van.

How An Arizona Couple Raised Five Kids and Nearly Paid Off Their Home on $42,000 a Year—with Money to Spare

They have a five-bedroom house with a pool in Scottsdale, Ariz., take vacations and wear brand-name jeans: all on an average yearly income of $42,000. “All we’re doing is living below our means,” says Annette Economides, 47, who with husband Steve shares secrets of thriftiness in their bestseller America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money.

For the past 26 years, the couple has stretched their dollars by shunning credit cards, rarely dining out, and paying cash even for such big-ticket items as their used ’99 Ford van.

The couple took a marriage prep class that emphasized budgeting, allowing Annette to homeschool their five kids—John, 25, Becky, 23, Roy, 19, Joe, 16, and Abbey, 14—while Steve worked as a graphic designer. And by making extra payments on their mortgage principal, they are close to paying off the $220,000 fixer-upper they bought in 1994. Says Steve, 51: “We stay on an even keel no matter what the economy does” because we use a simple household budget system that helps us manage our money and keep our living expenses low.


They have cut their grocery bill in half or more. Armed with coupons and walkie-talkies, Annette and Steve search for sales at Bashas’ supermarket in Scottsdale. Recent purchases include:

• 8 20-lb. turkeys
• 15 cans of baked beans
• 6 gallons of whole milk
• 12 loaves of bread
• 15 1-lb. packages of pasta
• 10 dozen eggs



Have kids make wish lists. “They may not get it all, but they know they’ll get something they want,” says Steve.


Go potluck. “We provide a main dish, everyone else brings drinks and hors d’oeuvres.”


Try a white elephant exchange: Guests wrap and bring inexpensive items from their homes. “It’s regifting, but we all howl with laughter,” says Annette. “Something you thought was so stupid, people are fighting over!”


Don’t wait. “Giving is in our yearly spending plan,” says Steve. One idea: The post office ships flat-rate care packages to U.S. soldiers for $10.95.


  • Outfits for the Family $71
  • Rehabbed a $220,000 House
  • Average Monthly Food Bill $350
  • Clipping Coupons
  • Looking for Deals
  • Freezing Future Meals

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