1. Headline
  1. Headline
TODAY staff
updated 12/2/2008 10:02:16 AM ET 2008-12-02T15:02:16

Readers have a lot of questions about how Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar manage to raise their 17 kids without going broke. Here, the busy couple fields questions about living debt-free, preparing for grandkids and more (including a crowd-pleasing recipe!).

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. TODAY's Takeaway: Savannah won't 'overshare'; rapping medic cracks up anchors

      Etiquette expert Thomas Farley guides the anchors — including expectant mother Savannah — on what’s acceptable for parents...

    2. Chelsea Clinton is pregnant! Former first daughter expecting first child this year
    3. After helpful mom accidentally steals car, rightful owner is found
    4. Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87
    5. Cool cats! Laid-back felines star in #catband music videos

Q: [How have you] made ends meet (feeding, clothing, diapering, entertaining, etc.) while still being debt-free? Also, how do [you] pay for everything without credit, and still have money in the bank every month?— Marni, Kings Mountain, N.C.

Jim Bob: How do [other] people pay interest for the debt on top of making ends meet? What we've done is something that a lot of people don’t want to do. It's not keeping up with the Joneses. We've always driven older vehicles; we've never bought a new vehicle.

In the past, Michelle's gone to garage sales and bought shoes for a dollar. We probably spend less on clothing than what a family of four would spend. We spend a lot of money on food — $3,000 a month on food and diapers and that type of stuff.

We saved up and paid cash for our second house 18 years ago, then spent a year remodeling to get it fixed up to be livable. But then we didn't have house payments. We don’t have any debt, so it makes it easier to live.

Michelle: We went to a financial freedom seminar when we were young. It was about getting out and staying out of debt. It really is freedom when you're not under this immense pressure every month.

Jim Bob: It wasn’t easy going this route starting off. We made sacrifices. We lived in a 900-square-foot house for seven years. But the money that we saved in rent allowed us to pay cash for the first house.

Q: Are you going to keep on having kids as your now-grown children start having families? How will you financially be able to afford a growing family which will include possibly having grandchildren younger than your own kids?— T. Burley, Russell, Ky.

Michelle: I am 42, so my childbearing years are coming close to an end here! We would welcome more if the Lord saw fit to give us more. With our older children having families, it will add that much more to the family.

Jim Bob: Our kids will have to support their own kids.

Michelle: I'm looking forward to being a grandparent.

Jim Bob: Our oldest son just got married. He has a car business; he and his wife are working together on that. They have their struggles and are learning about business.

Q: How do you manage to iron all the family's clothes?— Janet Brockman

Michelle: I don't. When our children were young, that was the purpose for the knit pullovers and wrinkle-free clothes. I would find them at yard sales and thrift stores. Now that they're older they do their own ironing. Sometimes I have to tell the boys, “You need to go iron that”

Q: How do you make tater tot casserole?— LindaJo Perry, Pahrump, Nev.

[Editor's note: A lot of readers asked about this one after seeing it on Discovery Health's “17 Kids and Counting.”]

Michelle: This is a favorite that can be adapted. Sometimes we have tried it as a breakfast-type thing with sausage, or like a Mexican taco-y type dish.

Jim Bob: We've had hundreds of e-mails from people who have made it with their family, and everyone likes it, including children who are picky and husbands.

Recipe: Tater tot casserole (on this page)

Visit TheDuggarFamily.com for more tips like these, or TLCfor more info on the family. Michelle and Jim Bob’s book, “The Duggars: 20 and Counting,” is out now on Howard Books. Their show “17 Kids and Counting” airs on TLC on Mondays at 10 p.m. EST.

More parenting tips | disciplining children

Recipe: Tater tot casserole

One of Daddy’s favorites!

  • 2 pounds ground turkey cooked, seasoned, drained
  • 3 two-pound bags tater tots
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cans evaporated milk
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup

Brown meat and place in large casserole dish. Cover with tater tots. Mix soup and milk together.

Pour over top. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Serving Size

Makes two 9-inch by 13-inch pans


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

TODAY's Takeaway
  1. TODAY

    Savannah won’t ‘overshare’; rapping medic cracks up anchors

    4/17/2014 8:38:13 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T20:38:13
  1. After helpful mom accidentally steals car, rightful owner is found

    When Nekisia Davis asked her mom to move her car and her friends' cars while she went on vacation, she didn't expect that she would instead accidentally move the wrong car, prompting the rightful owner to believe her car was stolen.

    4/17/2014 9:14:16 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T21:14:16
  1. Macy's

    Swimmer Ryan Lochte dives into underwear modeling

    4/17/2014 6:29:23 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T18:29:23
  1. Spencer Platt / Getty Images

    Chelsea Clinton is pregnant! Former first daughter expecting first child this year

    4/17/2014 10:32:13 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T22:32:13
  1. Edgard Garrido / Reuters

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87

    4/17/2014 8:24:21 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T20:24:21
  1. Have you tried an elimination diet? Weigh in on the food fad

    Could eliminating certain foods from your diet prevent allergies, fatigue, or headaches? Some people think so.

    4/17/2014 8:30:46 PM +00:00 2014-04-17T20:30:46