Meet Leah Ingram, Bill Behre, and daughters Jane, 13, and Annie, 11. They walk most everywhere, they rarely eat out, they sometimes buy clothing at consignment shops, and they turn the lights off when they leave a room. Theirs is no hard-luck-in-a-recession story. The Ingram-Behre family is solidly middle-class, fully employed, and not especially threatened by the conniptions gripping Wall Street. Behre, 43, is a dean at the College of New Jersey, while Ingram, 42, is a successful freelance writer and etiquette expert. They have no credit card debt. That's now. A little more than a year ago, the family was ensnared in America's consume-at-all-costs culture. During the days of soaring home prices and easy credit, they took out a $101,000 home-equity loan on a previous house and spent lavishly on a lifestyle upgrade. Learn how they became debt-free and what frugal living is like.
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