April 27 -- With gas and grocery prices soaring, Americans could learn from one Arizona family that has been beating the high cost of living for years.
Rising gas prices have been all over the news, but you might not know that your groceries are getting much more expensive as well, with the cost of staples such as milk, butter and eggs skyrocketing.
In March, a gallon of milk cost $2.79 on average, compared with $2.66 last March. Butter averaged $3.47 a pound, compared with $3 last year. And, this year, eggs will set you back $1.63 for a dozen, compared with $1.21 last year.
Annette and Steve Economides, and their five children, ages 10 to 21, have mastered the art of living on the cheap. Their mission: to maintain a reputation they've proudly earned — or maybe saved — the old-fashioned way. The Arizona clan says it's proud to be America's cheapest family.
"We started out our marriage with so little money that we decided we were going to live within our means," said Annette Economides. "From day one, we were not going to accrue any kind of debt, of any kind."
The Economides say careful planning allowed them to pay off their first house in just nine years, even though their family income averaged just $33,000 a year. Their second home is nearly paid off as well.
Steve Economides, who calls himself the family's "cheap economizing officer," is a freelance graphic artist. He and his wife runs the family business, HomeEconomiser, a Web site and newsletter dedicated to helping people live within their means.
The Economides spend $350 a month on food and cleaning products, feeding seven mouths for 30 days.
How do they do it?
Step one: Careful planning. The Economides make a grocery list and check it three times before heading to the store.
"These women that are at the grocery store every day, three times a week, are spending gobs of money on food that they don't need to be spending," said Annette Economides.