How America's Cheapest Family Invests

Investing for retirement falls near the bottom of their financial priority list.

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Steve and Annette Economides, along with three of their five kids--"The Cheapest Family in America"--were on the Today show this morning, talking about how they manage to live on $44,000 a year, debt-free and in a fairly cushy neighborhood.

Hearing about their exhaustive bargain-hunting was interesting, but I kept wondering if--and how--they invest. I couldn't find anything substantive in previous interviews with the clan, so I walked down to the bookstore to check out their book.

Investing is mentioned in one chapter near the end of the book, but the Economides mainly focus on the importance of an emergency fund. Their idea of investing for the future involves first paying off debt, then paying off cars and saving for a replacement, followed by building an emergency fund, considering your insurance needs, paying off your house, and--at the bottom of the list--investing in an IRA or 401(k).

For a book whose title touts "Cashing in on Your Dreams," I was surprised at the lack of space devoted to saving for retirement. As for their own investments, the couple only says that they stick to conservative mutual funds.