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America's cheapest family said it's crucial to teach children about money at an early age.

Be cheap, save money

Posted on 5/28/14 12:47:14 PM

Steve and Annette Economides are known as 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 have developed a method to saving money as a family, and they told CBS Arizona affiliate KPHO a few tips 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 MoneySmart Family, 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 Economides 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 OK, we're going to give them money anyway, let's have them earn it."

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 thinks a reward-based system helps children learn to budget at an early age. Steve Economides 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 Economides said.

The Economides understand that not every 16 year old will be able to afford their own car, but Annette Economides said that even if they can't purchase an automobile, when a teenager gets their license, it's a really good idea to have them pay their own car insurance because it holds them accountable.

"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," Annette Economides said.

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

"Don't worry about interest rates because you have more success if you simply knock off the smallest balance," Annette Economides said.

Steve Economides suggestsgetting 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 three-year old textbook for $30.

Saving on daily costs?
KPHO reported that the average family of four spends $800 per month ‡ on food, or roughly $9,600 per year.

Annette Economides 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.

"Because most people have more in their house than they realize and if they just go through their refrigerator, go through their pantry, go through their freezer, they'll be like 'oh, I forgot this was in here,'" Annette Economides said.

Author: Marc Vasquez