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How a couple with 13 children lives 100% debt-free

How a couple with 13 children lives 100% debt-free
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Mike Timmermann |
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For Rob and Sam Fatzinger, frugality is a survival skill.

Married for 27 years, the couple has 13 children, one income and a home less than 20 miles from Washington, D.C. — not exactly a cheap place to live. 

And would you believe they’re completely free of debt?

Read more: 5 lessons from a man who retired at 33

Raising 13 kids with no debt 

Not only that, Rob, 51, tells the Washington Post that he’s on track to retire at 62. How's that possible? Read on! 

A single-income household

Rob says he currently makes just over $100,000 a year working in the computer software field, but it didn’t always used to be that way.

When he started on that career path about a decade ago, his salary was $40,000 — plus benefits.

And prior to that, Rob and Sam owned a Christian bookstore, but they never made more than $20 an hour. They gave up that business about 15 years ago. 

As a side job, Rob mows lawns for an extra few hundred bucks a month.

No mortgage payment

Rob and Sam spotted a foreclosure in the year 2000, which they bought for $150,000 and put a lot of work into with the help of the community.

With the additions, their home now has eight bedrooms and three bathrooms.

The couple put $50,000 down and financed the remaining $100,000 through a 15-year mortgage, which they paid off in 2012 — a few years early. 

With today’s low interest rates, that payment would be about $715 a month.

Since paying off the mortgage, Rob tells the blog Mad Fientist that they’ve boosted their savings – not spending. Their annual savings rate is about 35%.

Read more: 6 steps to pay off your mortgage early 

Sending 13 kids to college

While Rob earns six figures, Sam home-schools the children and gets assistance from an outside tutor, according to the Washington Post.

After high school, the children have to figure out how to pay for college themselves.

Several of their kids have attended community college, obtained scholarships, worked part-time jobs and graduated from university with no debt.

Rob says it helps that the community college where they live is a good one.

Their biggest expense: FOOD!

How much does a family with 13 children spend on food? It's their biggest expense. And according to Rob’s personal blog, they spent $15,120 in the year 2013.

He says it breaks down to about 99 cents a meal per person, since some kids are out of the house.

The family’s monthly grocery bill dropped when they started shopping at Aldi a few years ago, from $1,600 a month to $1,260 a month.

To save, they don’t buy expensive meats, organic products or prepared foods.

Read more: 10 surprises you didn't know about Aldi 

It takes a village

While the couple’s frugal way of living is quite extraordinary, they told the Washington Post they’ve received a lot of support from people in their neighborhood. 

For example, youth groups helped turn their foreclosure into a livable space.

And friends, family and neighbors in their Maryland community have pitched in to help with their needs, including donating $500 gift cards and used vehicles!

To read more about the Fatzingers, see their story in the Washington Post.

Read more: How a 25-year-old making $32,000 a year can retire a millionaire