Big Changes Coming to Fabulessly Frugal
To tell you where we’re going, we’ve got to tell you where we’ve been….
It all started in 2008. You remember what it was like… we were all feeling the crunch. Gas prices were rising, the cost of food was noticeably increasing, and the layoffs were starting. That’s when the concept of Fabulessly Frugal was born… we were just two moms who were trying to spend less money. And coupons were the way we were doing it. We (Monica and Cathy) started this blog in October 2008 as a way to share deals with family and friends. We were saving money, and we wanted our friends to do it too! Check out the very first Fabulessly Frugal post. We laugh when we look back at this.
Three months later we looked at our stats and saw we had about 400 people looking at the blog a day. Well, we knew we didn’t even have 400 friends on facebook at the time, and we realized the word was starting to get around. So we kept it up. Instead of cleaning house, we started spending hours during the day searching for deals and writing on the blog, without getting anything in return. We weren’t sure if we were making a difference for many people, but hoped we were. We made a commitment to this blog and the handful of people that were following it.
In March of 2009 we started teaching coupon classes. Our first class was held at Cathy’s sisters house. We charged $5 a person and had 24 people attend. Not going to lie… our husbands weren’t thrilled about the idea. In fact we wanted to offer the class for free, but we couldn’t justify to our husbands all the time spent preparing and teaching if we were not able to say we made a little money doing it. We passed around a sign-up sheet for people to host their very own class, through this and word of mouth, we taught our first 10 or so coupon classes.
Then in April of 2009, Cathy’s husband was laid off… and she was pregnant with her 7th child. Monica saw this blog as a way to help Cathy and her family… not only did Cathy have a stockpile of food because she had been couponing for 7 months, but Monica knew there was a way to monetize the blog…. which would help bring in a little extra money while Cathy’s husband looked for a job. You can read all the details of that in this New York Times Magazine article from 2012.
In the summer of 2009, we dressed up in coordinating outfits of chocolate brown (one of our main blog colors at the time). It was an amazingly quiet day in Monica’s living room. With babies napping, we were able to record our coupon class onto video. We burned it to DVD’s so we could ship it to our growing number of followers living outside of Idaho. We wanted to be able to share this awesome knowledge with more people.
Creating Our Team of Women
Do you remember the Pay It Forward Garage Sales we hosted in 2009 and 2010? This is where we met AJ who later become one of our contributors. We loved feeling like what we were doing something that was making a difference to people. We loved meeting our audience and getting to know some of you!
Up until January of 2010 we collected a few authors that helped us write content from time to time. Remember AJ and Amber? And of course Kearna who is still with us today. 🙂 In January of 2010 we invited them to be official contributors to Fabulessly Frugal and told them we would pay them some of the profits we were starting to make from our blog. It was not much, but they were willing to come along for the ride in hopes that we really could pay them a decent wage some day.
Once things were more official, Amber got to work and emailed channel 12 where she got us our very first media feature on the local news. With less than 1 hour notice, Mike Vogel came over to Monica’s house and interviewed Monica, Cathy and Amber. We were all freaking out! It’s really funny to look at the video from that interview.
Throughout 2010 we had various TV station interviews and wrote articles for our local newspaper. We continued to share coupon deals and all the things we could find to help save money. In September 2010 we stopped burning our DVD on our own computers when we found a company that could drop ship it for us. We were finally able to easily share our coupon class with people all over the US.
Fast forward to 2011…
Things were busier. Extreme Couponing started airing on TLC and traffic to the blog increased a ton. Just look at what was happening not only on our blog, but in stores, because of TLC’s Extreme Couponing – https://fabulesslyfrugal.com/a-word-about-shelf-clearing/.
That summer we filmed an updated version of our DVD… we paid money to have it filmed professionally and to make it apply to a larger national audience. It was a fun project to work on… (here is a picture Cathy took of Monica on set)
That summer we started getting more media attention. The local newspaper featured us in several articles and then a freelance writer, Jessie Bonner, contacted us for an Associate Press interview. On July 7, 2011 the article published on websites and in newspapers throughout the country. We had no idea what a big deal that was and what it would lead to…
New York Times and The Today Show
In December of 2011 we were approached by a freelance writer, Amanda Fortini, who was looking for frugal people to feature in a New York Times Magazine article. She talked with us over the phone a couple of times, and in so doing, she realized that we were more than just frugal people. She realized that we were hard working moms trying to make life better for other moms, and that there was more to our story. So she flew out to Boise on two different occasions to interview us and learn more about who we were and what we were doing.
In April of 2012, the New York Times Magazine article was published! This led to a whirlwind trip to New York City to appear on the Today Show. Of course this was extremely exciting for us! We found out Wednesday evening they were coming on Thursday to film us, and then Thursday evening we flew to New York City to be interviewed by Matt Lauer Friday morning. Matt Lauer ended up being in London with Adele (wow, he chose Adele over us!?), and we were instead interviewed by David Gregory (former host of Meet the Press). After our interview we went back to our hotel room and watched our website traffic and our site crash as the interview aired in each time zone. It was a lot of fun! 🙂 We checked out out of our hotel and had a few hours to walk around the city.
2012: The Coupon High
The interest in couponing was at an all time high in 2012. We took pride in serving you! We also found satisfaction in providing a part time income to several stay at home moms… we had a lot of women on our team and boy did we need them! We loved our Fabulessly Frugal community. Ethical couponing was important to us. You were important to us. Our team was important to us. Saving money was important to us. We were selling a ton of our coupon class DVD’s, getting a ton of questions and comments from new readers, and loved making a difference to peoples lives. But by 2013, things started to change…
2013: Changes in Couponing
Coupon use was huge, and the retailers were starting to feel the pinch… What did they do? They started adding more limitations to coupons, coupon values decreased, and the rules started to get more strict. In June of 2013 Albertsons stopped their double coupons. It was a sad day for all of us. At that point, we personally really started to back off coupon shopping trips… and so did you. But we kept providing the coupon match-up service and deals.
Here’s the thing about coupon match-ups. It takes hours and hours (and hours and hours) a week writing these grocery deals matched up with coupons. We had several contributors we paid to write up these match-ups. In fact, it cost us nearly $2000 a month to bring these match-ups to you. From 2008 through 2012, Albertsons was the #1 viewed item on our blog. But by the beginning of 2014, it was #165. Albertsons wasn’t the only store we shared deals for… Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Fred Meyer… they were all favorites too. But by the end of 2013, interest in couponing had declined drastically. The deals were starting to feel few and far between… it didn’t seem worth the time and energy. And the money we were spending on writing up these less than used match-ups was getting spendy. It didn’t make sense to our business.
So in April of 2014 we introduced you to Favado… it was a way for us to reduce the expenses of match-ups, but still provide the deals for you. The only downfall to the Favado system, we were unable to provide you with high quality match-ups like we had in all the previous years. Instead of us hand picking the best deals, and ranking them by very best, to great, to good, every single deal was listed. We didn’t love it, and we felt really bad about it… really, we did. But we just couldn’t justify spending the extensive amount of time and money on match-ups anymore. The interest had declined so much!
Our New Love Interest
Another thing happened to us in 2013… we had found a new love interest. Amazon. We had the hots for Amazon big time (still do). The convenience of having pantry items and subscribe and save items shipped right to our door for free is pretty much awesome (learn all about our favorite secrets of saving big on Amazon). So we started posting more Amazon deals for you. And you seem to love them as much as we do… especially around Christmas!
But with all these changes, something was lost. Something was missing. We missed feeling like we’re really helping out. We missed our Fabulessly Frugal community. We love sharing deals, but sometimes we get burnt out on telling you to buy buy buy buy!
So we’re making some changes… they’ll be gradual, but they are coming.
- First things first…. as of today, we are no longer offering coupon match-ups for the store ads. This decision was not an easy one. Coupon match-ups are what got us started in many ways with Fabulessly Frugal. But interest just continues to decline for coupon match-ups. There is a very small percentage of you that even look at them anymore. You can still get them on your phone by downloading the Favado App, but you won’t find them on Fabulessly Frugal anymore. We recommend Raking in the Savings as an online source to find store match-ups.
- Next… we are going to be very selective about what deals we’re posting. Occasionally we’ll share a coupon or a coupon deal with you… but they will only be ones that FREAKING EXCITE us! It’ll be a deal that’s easy to do… just print a coupon or two and go get the deal.
- You are going to see more meaningful content from us… we are moms, we are business women, we work from home, we balance family and work and home, and we’ve been doing it for 6+ years! In fact, this week you’re going to see an article titled, “How I saved $1000 in 2 hours”. We’ll be sharing things that we personally do to manage our time, our family, budgeting, menu planning, eating healthy, and how we still save money on groceries (without clipping coupons). Plus many other tips that we know you’ll love! These posts will start out slowly and we’ll still be posting deals, but after time you’ll start to see the deals listed in one blog post, and our other posts that will help you with other aspects of your life more.
We are excited and energized by our new plan and goals! We still want to help make your life better, we’ll just be doing it a different way!
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Take a moment and tell us what you’d like to see on Fabulessly Frugal! Have a great idea and think you could write a blog post about it? Tell us that too! We will compensate you for your blog post!
Let us know what you think. We appreciate you and your loyalty and hope you love the upcoming changes!