one America's Cheapest Family We've been called "America's Cheapest Family," "the First Family of Frugal," "cheapskates," "thrift-a-holics," "tightwads," or one of many other less flattering terms. Even calling us by our real last name, Economides, relates to saving cash. Yes, that's our real nameit's pronounced "econo-mee-dis." It's Greek and means "son of the steward." As the nicknames make clear, we don't like to spend a lot of money. But we don't economize just for the sake of skimping. We have big dreamsgoals that together we are working toward. We are living proof that even in tough economic times, it's possible to: Raise responsible kids Purchase a home and pay it off in nine years Buy cars for cash Enjoy fabulous debt-free vacations Feed a growing family on a grocery budget of just $350 each month Put savings in the bank What's more, all this was done during the first twelve years of our marriage on an average income of less than $35,000. A Wish Fulfilled This is a book we wish had existed when we were starting out on our financial journey. We're not going to bog you down with pages of hard-to-follow economic theory and calculations. Instead, we focus on practical advice that even the most financially challenged can easily implement. America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money will show you how to buy groceries smarter and less expensively, create a household budget that really works, buy affordable cars and homes, find alternative sources for dressing fabulously, deal with medical care and expenses, discover fun recreational activities that are free, plan and take great vacations that don't break the bank, teach kids to earn and manage money, build a great savings plan for the future, get out of debt and emerge from the vicious cycle of living paycheck to paycheck, and so much more. Neither of us has a finance or accounting background. Neither of our parents taught us to manage moneythey were frugal, but by no means financial wizards. We are just an average couple who have discovered the secrets to living well on way less than most people can imagine. Many people believe that thrifty living can be more easily accomplished in a rural setting. We are here to tell you that it just isn't so! Living in the suburbs all of our lives, we can strongly say that there are great bargains to be had at every turn. With a dense population comes greater opportunities to scoop up steep discounts and free items. Writing from the perspective of a family, we hope to bring our message to every age group. The younger generation needs to hear that there is an alternative to today's credit-charged lifestylefrugal living can be fun and very rewarding, something our children know well. Those in the throes of the middle years, whether raising kids, building careers, or both, need to hear that work doesn't need to own them. We can vouch for the fact that they can live on less and still reach incredible goals. And as we edge our way toward retirement, we can offer guidance to seniors, many of whom live on Social Security or are learning to stretch their savings. As economizers, we proclaim that no matter what your financial state, and regardless of what the economy is doing, you can not only survive but thrive. Three Principles for Getting you Right on the Money There will be three themes that you'll see recur throughout this book: avoid debt like the plague, live below your means, and embrace the thriftyEconomides, Steve is the author of 'America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, And Cashing in on Your Dreams', published 2007 under ISBN 9780307339454 and ISBN 0307339459.