How This Family Raised 19 Kids Without Going Into Debt



You’d think with 21 mouths to feed and 20 acres worth of property to maintain, a modest family like TLC’s The Duggars would be right behind Octomom Nadya Suleman in the welfare line. Think again. 

Before they started reeling in royalties from their hit TV show, the family lived 100 per cent debt free – even when patriarch Jim Bob was scraping by at a local grocery store and they could barely afford a vacuum cleaner. 

'After just seeing the first session, the truths from God's Word being taught through Mr. Sammons began to convict me of my need to 'owe no man anything but love,' he said.

A real estate mogul was born

After the seminar, Jim Bob bought several commercial real estate properties. Before the show became a hit, these were the family's main sources of income.

He turned this 37,000 sq. foot chicken hatchery into 10 rental units and makes major bank renting out a cell phone tower to mobile phone carriers.

They were debt-free within seven years

It took them about that long to save up to pay for their first home in cash.

Here are the stats on their current digs:

-7,000 sq. ft on 20 acres

-4 bedrooms

-1 massive family closet

The family washes 35 loads of laundry per week. To cut costs, they have their own recipe for DIY laundry soap.

Total cost: $1 per month.

They get all their bills itemized

Thanks to an itemized hospital bill, they realised they'd been charged incorrectly for 86 bars of soap.

'For hospital bills, phone bills, anything -- ask for everything to be itemized. Especially cell phone bills, they always add extra expenses,' Michelle told 'They automatically put stuff on. We call them and get them to take it off. You have to keep an eye on every one of those.'

They spend $3,000 on their grocery bill alone each month and use their entire garage as a pantry

Here's their shopping list:

3 dozen eggs
5 lbs turkey bacon
20 biscuits
10 oranges
4 lbs. grapes
3 loaves whole wheat bread
4 lbs sloppy joe meat
3 lbs. green beans
3 lbs. potatoes
2 watermelons
2 family size bags lettuce
4 lbs. spaghetti noodles
3 loaves french bread
2 pans brownies
1 gallon vanilla ice cream

They save thousands of dollars by cutting their own hair

They set aside just $100 per month for entertainment (That means no cable)

Most of the fun happens at home, where they have a full basketball court (and enough players to make up 4 teams).

Also on tap:

-A trampoline

-An indoor playscape

-A pool table

-Education software games

-Pianos and violins that each kid learns to play

They've never bought a new vehicle in their lives

Their garage is home to five Suburbans, two sedans, one van and this 45-foot tour bus.

The bus used to belong to a hockey team and has 15 bunks. They snapped it up at auction for a mere $2,100 (original value: $50,000).

Buying in bulk: In this scene from their reality show, they filled up 11 grocery carts

You won't find them at the mall

Michelle Duggar: 'We get our clothes at thrift shops. You can find really nice name-brand stuff. Our girls love it. They will find tons of stuff.'

They outfitted their home with energy efficient light bulbs and appliances. Total utility bill: $695 for phone, electric and water

And they refuse to let their kids drown in student loan debt

Michelle's in charge of educating the kids at home, but the family's been criticised for not encouraging them to attend college.

But that's not the case. At least six of their children have enrolled in CollegePlus, 'an on-line, fully accredited system that allows students to earn their college degrees at home and graduate without a mountain of debt.'

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