Let me tell you about a couple I know. They have 13 kids and live in one of the most expensive regions of the country on a single income.
Sounds like a recipe for debt and a struggle to get ahead, doesn’t it?
Not if you’re this couple.
Meet Rob and Sam. They’ve been married 29 years, and they’re the parents of 13 kids who range in age from 5 to 27 (and they foster a boy, too). This couple has managed to raise their family in the suburbs of D.C.—where wealth and possessions are the status quo—without charging a single purchase to credit cards. They had a 30-year mortgage, but they paid it off in 12 years.
The Early Years—Learning Frugal Living
Early on, Rob and Sam struggled to make ends meet. Sam got pregnant shortly after they were married and stayed home with the kids, so they never relied on a second income. They learned how to find the deals and make do with what they had.
Then, about 10 years ago, Rob got a job as a software tester. While he made more money, the couple didn’t go crazy with spending.
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“He [Rob] made a lot more. And so, we kept living like we always did. We kept saving. We never really changed our spending habits,” Sam recalled when I spoke to her recently.
This frugal approach to spending has been a family value that the children have adopted. All eight kids who drive bought their own cars close to their sixteenth birthdays. And all of the kids who have gone to college have paid their own way.
As a result, those who have finished college graduated debt-free. The kids worked, applied for scholarships, and did every bit of legwork
Looking Toward the Future—Saving for Retirement
Rob now makes more than $100,000 a year, but they still live in their original house. They added three bedrooms and renovated the kitchen as they could afford it. Since their home has everything they need, they’ve chosen to focus on other things—including retirement.
Right now, the couple invests 30–35% of their income for retirement. They take advantage of Rob’s workplace 401(k), and they also invest in a Roth IRA. In fact, Rob is on track to retire by age 62. He wants to spend time with his kids and his grandkids.
Even though they’re intense about saving for retirement, Rob and Sam still get to enjoy their lives. Because they’ve taken a cash-only approach for the long haul, they’ve been able to save money for important events. Recently, the entire family flew to Arizona for one son’s wedding—to the tune of $10,000 in airfare. But they could afford to go. Those little sacrifices along the way allowed the entire family to enjoy one of the best vacations in their lives—without any fear of paying the bill.
There’s more to this story, but I don’t want to ruin it for you. Check out my podcast for the full interview with Sam. Listening will challenge and encourage you, I guarantee it!