The first question one might ask Gil and Kelly Bates, the Tennessee couple with 18 children, is “How do you do it?”

After listening to their sincere answers about faith and love, the follow-up question might be: “But how do you actually do it?” How do you manage the practical, everyday side of life? Most of all, how do you pay for it?

The answer is a Harvard Business School-worthy case study of home economics that includes multiple income streams, cost-cutting, division of labor, strategic leverage and tax savvy.

The foundation of the Bateses’ finances is Gil’s income as a tree surgeon. It provides just enough to get by.

How do you make a small income work for a family of 20? Thrift, for starters.

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