8 Financial Lessons To Learn From The Duggars

Most people have strong opinions about Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar and their brood of 19 children.  While some commend them for putting their family first and having as many children as God feels fit, many others feel they are being irresponsible to have so many children and to potentially put Michelle’s health in jeopardy with more pregnancies at an advanced age.

Whatever your personal opinion is, there is no denying that many Americans could learn to manage their money as effectively as the Duggars.  Here are some of their money management strategies that have allowed to live debt free despite raising 19 children.

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the duggar family finances

1.  Buy used and save the difference.  If you watch their show, 19 Kids and Counting, you will see the Duggars recite their mantra, “Buy used and save the difference” over and over.  They buy almost everything used–clothing, cars, RVs, baby equipment, beds, the list goes on and on.

2.  Barter.  In addition to buying used, the Duggars aren’t afraid to barter and ask for a lower cost.  They barter successfully quite often.  Of course, it helps when you pay cash and have all of the money to pay upfront.

3.  Pay cash.  The Duggars pay cash for their expenses.  While they might be able to play the credit card reward system and accrue points to get free services and items, they instead choose to pay with cash and avoid credit cards completely.

4.  Avoid debt.  The Duggars don’t just avoid credit card debt, they avoid all types of debt.  Their sprawling home, which features a 2,000 square foot great room including living room, dining room and kitchen, was paid for upfront.  They do not owe anything on the house; it is paid in full.  Not many Americans can say that, let alone those with the expense of 19 children.

5.  Do it yourself.  One of the ways the Duggars were able to pay cash for their home was to learn how to do much of the building themselves.  They did hire people to help, but then they worked beside those they hired to learn to do much of the work themselves.  Do it yourself can save some big bucks!

6.  Help others.  The Duggars were routinely shown going to help a fellow large family, the Bates, to renovate their house to accommodate their own growing family.  The Duggars are always volunteering to help their friends, and in return, their friends gladly help them.  This cooperative agreement helps them get things done without hiring others to assist them.

7.  Be willing to delay gratification.  Before the Duggars built their home, they were in a cramped, small house.  While they wanted nothing more than to move into their new, spacious home, they had to be willing to delay gratification so that it would be paid in full when they moved in.  The house took several years to complete.

8.  Be willing to tell your children no.  In their book, Michelle recounts the early days of their marriage when they had very little money coming in.  One of their older daughters wanted a pink blanket, but they could not afford to buy her one because it wasn’t in the budget.  How many of us routinely tell our children no for such a small expenditures?  Because they have the ability to live within their budget and tell their children no, they are able to remain debt free.

Of course, many will argue that the Duggars are able to be debt free because they have a television show and book deals.  I am not disputing that those deals probably do bring them a substantial amount of money and a more comfortable lifestyle.  However, how many athletes or other celebrities do we routinely see who blow through millions in just a few years?  The Duggars are being responsible stewards of their money.  In addition, they were already living this way long before the television deal came along.

What other financial lessons do you learn from the Duggars or another famous family?

Last Edited: 31st October 2012

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  1. says

    Personally I absolutely adore the Duggars & think everyone could learn something or other from them! :) I respect & admire them entirely! In the world of “reality” tv, this show is a gem and probably one of the very few worth watching!

    Great tips & post! :)

  2. says

    The Duggars are so ridiculous, I can’t imagine having half as many kids as them…but anyway these are all good tips and as someone who has watched a few episodes they definitely know how to live frugal. The Duggars have an added advantage that they have a TON of hands to help with any DIY project.

  3. JD says

    I must say that while 19 children seems a bit much for me they appear to have taught their children how to be frugal. Their thriftiness is a good example to all.

  4. says

    I know a lot of people like to say how crazy the Duggars are for having so many kids, but having seen the show I’m amazed at just how well adjusted and well behaved all of their kids are. They’re obviously doing something right – I guess they’ve had enough practice! It does sounds like they’ve got their finances squared away too, and they’re living by some pretty sound principles.

    They also display a great entrepreneurial spirit on the show – which I love. They’re always opening new businesses, getting their kids involved and creating their own businesses, and finding new ways to make money to support their family – and get their kids started on supporting themselves. I love it!

  5. says

    Thanks for sharing this! I salute them for being able to raise 19 children and I absolutely love the “buy used and save the difference” quote. What’s good about their lifestyle is that they don’t take a small amount of money for granted. Even if it is just a small amount, when we save it, it could become big and we can use it for more important things in the future.

  6. says

    Wow. 19 children is way way too many. Anyway, I like number 5 the best. It really helps save a lot of money. Instead of paying other people to fix things inside the house, it’s better to do it yourself. It’s also a good way to bond with the family.

  7. Betty says

    It upsets me that they get so much attention and at the same time OctaMom is rediculed. If a dozen (or whatever) is too many for OctaMom them 19 is too many for these people. The fact that these two people have a spouse makes no difference. I think these children are being exploited and they have been trained to be well behaved; they’re on TV. In the real world that is possibly a different story. The world is OVER POPULATED and having this many children is not thinking about the strain on the future of our country.

    • says

      There are problems with your logic, starting with the fact that you think these kids will be a strain on the population, and on the future of this country. That just doesn’t seem like it will be the case. The Duggars are good about teaching their kids to be aware of their finances, and have an entrepreneurial mindset that will help them to not be dependent on others in the years to come. Several of their older kids have already started their own businesses, and are actually providing jobs to other people.

      I don’t think the Octamom should be ridiculed, and I do sympathize with her situation, but I do think there are significant differences with her situation and the Duggars. She went into the process of trying to have kids as a single person, with no spouse and no large source of income. She should have known she was going to have a hard time getting by, and she hasn’t exactly been a stellar example for her kids since they’ve been born starring in adult movies.

      The Duggars on the other hand have had a lot of kids, but they have a good support system in family and in their church, and they have enough income to get by. They also have two parents so there is always another one to back them up. I’ve known families in real life with large numbers of kids as well (10+), and while it isn’t easy, it’s not impossible. They’re some of the happiest families I know.

      Overpopulation isn’t considered to be an issue by a lot of scientists, and even the UN Population Assessment Report of 2003 stated as such. At current birth rates the population is expected to stabilize and not continue growing by 2050, and remain that way through 2300. Most families aren’t having as many kids as the Duggars, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.

  8. Jean says

    i agree with Betty. Because Octamom does not fit into “their’ square hole then she automatically is subject to derision. For shame on the Duggars. 19 children is an obscenity. I am number 5 of 6, and that was too many. My mother was just too tired and worn out for my brother ( number 6) and I. The responsibility fell on my oldest sister who very much resented it.

    • says

      19 Children is a blessing in my eyes, not an obscenity. I’m sure the Duggars feel the same way. If you don’t want that many children, you shouldn’t have them. For those that do, more power to them.

      Children are a heritage from the Lord,offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Psalm 127:3-5

  9. says

    Really? I’ve known about 3 couples in my life who have paid for their home in full. I’ve seen credit cards ruin people’s lives but I see no problem with having a mortgage. The great thing about the Duggars is that they are teaching their children great habits. You can bet that all of their children, however many they end up having will be well off.

  10. Ellie Mesa says

    I’m so thankful that there are families like the Duggars who are doing their best to raise Godly, productive children. It’s wonderful that some people are still concerned with making their communities better by giving back to them. As to overpopulating the world, not everyone is blessed with children. As far as I’m concerned the Duggars are having some that I can’t have. May the Lord continue to bless their family.

  11. says

    I suspect the Duggars lived like paupers until they got their TV show deal. I only have three kids, and I can imagine the mountains of cash it must take each month to support a family like the Duggars, even if they are buying used and doing much of their own work. I wouldn’t have that many kids for many reasons, but if that’s what they want to do, then more power to them. I am glad that they are a Christian family with good hearts and strong work ethics. I’m not worried about their children being a burden on anyone.

  12. Zoe Barton says

    You’re forgetting one more tip… Put your family on a reality TV show. Most of what you’ve listed appears to be true, but it is easy to see that much of their lifestyle is funded by the proceeds from the show and product placement. It is widely known that Discovery finished the house through sponsorships and advertising with local builders. Much of the furnishings were donated including matching washers and dryers, living room and bedroom furniture and more. Most of their travel is paid for the same way. The Duggars call this “God provides” which is true, but any conversation about their finances that does not include the millions they’ve made on the show is just misleading.

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