Big Changes Coming to Fabulessly Frugal

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.

coupon-class-2009

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

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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.

fox news fabulessly frugal

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.

7 Secrets of Successful Couponing 300x300 copy

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)

coupon class filming

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

ny times frugal girls

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.

TODAY SHOW Fabulessly Frugal

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.

Team Fabulessly Frugal 2013 small

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!

back to school deals amazon

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!

Sign up for our new email newsletter to get these new articles delivered to your inbox…

You’ll only receive one or two emails from us a week right now.  And very soon we’ll be sending all of our new subscribers a link to a free freezer meal plan – you’ll get a shopping list and recipes and instructions to put together 10 of our most popular freezer meals!  Subscribe Here!

We Want Your Feedback

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!

cathy and monica

Let us know what you think.  We appreciate you and your loyalty and hope you love the upcoming changes!

Comments

  • Cheryl H

    To say I’m happy with the changes would be a lie! But I do understand where you’re coming from. I got my start in couponing using your blog! I’m very grateful for everything I learned with regards to couponing and saving money. it will be interesting to see how your blog evolves and I’ll be watching! Just one question – will you still be doing the coupon insert lists? I’ll be in organization trouble if you don’t!!! Thanks for all you’ve done – it’s been greatly appreciated!

    • We aren’t going to be doing the insert lists anymore… we are gathering up some different ways to help everyone out with those! 🙂 Stay tuned!

    • Monica

      Cheryl H-
      Thanks for commenting. You have been a loyal follower for as long as I can remember. It is so good to hear from you. Sorry that you will miss the coupon match-ups. In many ways I will too. Thanks for your support.

    • Thank you Cheryl! It’s nice to see you’re still following us. 🙂

    • Kim

      I too will miss the insert lists. This was one stop shopping for me since I work 50-60hrs a week I need something convenient and don’t have the time to constantly watch a blog or read all the posts of what people saved in their area. Sorry to see it go and hope you get enough feedback to bring it back.

      • Tamera

        After becoming disabled 4 years ago with a progressive brain disease, finding your insert lists gave me some sanity back with organization. Your clipless method is the ONLY way I can say on top of things and still keep within my budget on a fixed income. Saddened to hear that you are eliminating these. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  • I learned how to coupon through your website and your video! I have definitely seen the shift in your site but I am very excited to see the new changes!

  • I have so many thoughts after reading this e-mail! Thank you for sharing this story – where you have come from. My best friend and I are working on our blog, to be launching soon! We are so anxious and wonder if we will truly be able to help our readers. Reading your post, I see how much you achieved in the past six years, it’s so inspiring.
    Also, I have couponed for years and noticed a steady decline. It’s sad but you are so right. It’s up to us to figure out new ways to save money and be frugal, creative and inventive ways. I look forward to reading about it, I have loved your blog for quite some time now! Thanks again for the inspiration.

    • Monica

      How exciting. What kind of blog are you starting?

      • We are so excited! Both my best friend and I have these beautiful little kids who have both faced serious medical issues, childhood cancer and heart disease. So we decided to start speaking to the moms who have it tough, hospital stays, tube feeds, blended diets, all while trying to stay afloat emotionally and financially. It means so much to us as we have both been/are there. We can’t wait to get started! Hope you’ll stop by for a visit, we plan to launch in a couple of weeks 🙂

  • Amber

    I’m sad to hear the changes. I feel like I have enough access to things that tell me all the best ways to live life. I really like having a resource that just helps me save money. I’ll try to be open minded, and definitely continue subscribing. The only thing that might end it for me is if you start having too many of those list articles that plague Facebook constantly and just make me cringe. The 10 only ways to … Five things every mother must… 12 reasons why your whatever is wrong. I hate all those lists of absolutes. Definitely not trying to be grumpy – just suggesting what I think many online readers are getting tired of hearing. Anyway, thanks for what you do! You’re company has been a blessing to my family many times.

  • Sophie

    Excited to see what you guys have in store! I’ve always enjoyed the content of your blog, not just the deals, and can’t wait to see more! I spend a lot more time at Costco these days just based on the cycle of my life and time I (don’t) have, so I probably won’t miss the deals much as others might, but always have appreciated every thinges the blog has offered.

  • Tina B

    I will miss the coupon matchups and list information the absolute most. Your site seems to be the only place I can find the coupon list, and trust me–my pile of unclipped ones goes back to 6/14, and I desperately need to weed through them, but have been a busy Mom. I look forward to some of your changes, but had noticed the lack of Winco matchups (you ladies are the ONLY source for that! Maybe consider just doing Winco?? Please??? Or, at least point us in the direction of where we can find current coupon lists that we can have on hand with us while shopping. I have been looking desperately on your site for Winco matchups lately and now I see where they’ve gone…away with the dinosaurs.)

  • Shelley

    I so appreciate all that I have learned (and saved!) from you girls! I think the reason couponing has fallen is twofold. One reason is that food is going up so fast that I find myself just going to the store when I absolutely have to and getting the bare minimum. That is true across the board, but especially for meat, for which there really are few coupons. Most of the coupons are for non-food items or prepared food items, neither of which I find myself buying very often.
    Secondly, I think that people look at the match-ups less because it’s more fun and convenient to buy things on amazon.com (which you really do more advertizing for now) but their grocery sale items are few. As things continue to tighten, I think folks will buy less on amazon, and then maybe you’ll return to your roots! (Coupon matching) Love you guys regardless!

  • I know this decision was a hard one for you, but I’m so proud that you chose to stay authentic to who you are and publish articles that more represent who you are today than who you were in 2008. We all change and evolve…and it will be cool to watch what you talented ladies do in the future.

  • Danielle

    Ladies, I am excited to see what changes you will be making, but I will be disappointed to lose the match-ups. Does that mean you will also be discontinuing the deal database and coupon database? That’s a major bummer. 🙁 I use those tools often. I can find coupon databases elsewhere, but yours is the only deal database I have found. It is such a time saver!

  • Missy

    I’ve been following you for 5 years now! You saved us so much money when my husband was laid-off, and taught me so much!
    I watched (sadly) as couponing changed, and there were fewer great deals. I’ve also watched as your site has evolved. I have to say, that I check with you less often as you have done less with store match-ups.
    I still check them, but the Amazon deals have over-taken everything else. I feel like, if I want a deal on something on-line, I check Amazon anyhow. I have a feeling, your site will become pretty useless to me. I often check for recipes, but only when I’m looking for something I recall you posted. I wish you well, and realize that times have changed and the coupon boat has sailed, but I don’t think an Amazon reference will be enough to keep me here regularly. (I know you’ll do other things, but the $ savers are what I need).
    Thank you, thank you for the thousands of $ you saved my family! I wish you the best in the future, and I’ll check in once in a while to see what you’ve got going on the site!

  • Karen

    I understand not having the grocery matchups. Seems like the number and value of the printed cpns have declined quite a bit. The higher value ones seems to be gone by the time I read about them. And each area of the country has their own stores and even the same chain stores have different sales and prices…even within the same state. I am sure that is a lot of work for you to do.

    As I am trying to eat healthier my couponing has simplified quite a bit and I am only shopping one grocery store a week now.

    I could take or leave the Amazon content. Most deals I see get posted are gone or the price has increased drastically buy the time I read the post. And we don’t have credit cards, just a few leftover points from surveys and swagbuck gift cards…so Subscribe and Save aren’t doable for me.

    I will still be reading your blog by way of RSS feed though. 🙂

  • I first started following your blog in 2009 and you saved me so much money during the early years of my marriage. FabFrugal was always my go-to coupon blog and you taught me the secrets of getting a great deal! 🙂
    It’s true, though, that classic “couponing,” as we knew it then, has completely changed. I hardly coupon shop for groceries at all now, but still love saving money and finding great deals! (Just this past year, my husband and I managed to do a complete home makeover for under $4,000. I attribute that to learning thrifty shopping skills from you ladies! 🙂 Thank you!)
    I loved reading this story about your journey thus far. As a new blogger myself, it is encouraging and inspiring to see all you’ve accomplished. I am very excited about the coming changes and will definitely be subscribing to see all the new content!
    Thank you for what you do!

  • Sue

    I too am so sad that couponing is not what it used to be! I am curious though, do any of you ladies still get the newspaper subscription with multiple copies? Trying to figure out if it is really worth it anymore…..

  • Michele

    You guys taught me how to coupon and save so much money. Thank you for all those match ups. I always wondered how much time it took to do those!
    Excited to see what’s next!!!
    P.S. Still in mourning over the loss of Albertson’s Twice the Value coupons. LOL Those were the days!!!

  • Melanie

    Loved reading your history and remembering your growth over the years. So happy for you guys!

  • Michele P

    I have followed you guys for years, you helped me through a layoff and to stretch our dollars even today, I will admit I check your website less since the change to couponing occurred gradually :/ I will miss the insert lists the most! is there any way to access those like another blog or ss or redplum site?? that was a huge timesaver for me.

    • Michelle

      I’m following, because I had this same question! Is there another place to access coupon insert lists?!

      • Cheryl H

        What I have done is copy and paste from the sundaycouponpreview. I realize that we don’t necessarily get all the coupons they list but it’s been a place for me to start. Hope this helps!!!

        • Monica

          I am so sorry about the insert lists. We loved providing that service for you. As far as I know we are the only people who provide it since we are the ones that came up with the concept. Cheryl has a great tip though! Maybe you guys could start a group and take turns writing the list and sharing it.

  • Deanna

    I have been following you forever! I especially love the freezer meals! I would like to see thoses, gardening ideas/tips and possibly DIY projects that are cute and inexpensive to do.

  • Melody

    I understand better after reading this article why you have made the changes. I too am really missing those insets lists! You mentioned that you had a tip coming about the lists. Looking forward to that! I’m sure I can find match ups somewhere. Good luck to you all! I will still be following you!

  • Icetea

    I’ve noticed these changes for awhile too. It has definitely felt a lot more like spamming us to buy random stuff on Amazon. Hopefully that isn’t the grand new direction or else this site will not only be unhelpful but detrimental. I understand wanting to make the money of your amazon referral links, but it’s not all about the $$. This site used to be about helping 🙁

  • pam

    So sad and so true, missed having all the info, you sure helped me out from trying to figure it all out. I been using coupons for 25 years now and I came across your site when you first began. Yeah coupons are not as sweet as they use to be, don’t save as much any more (too many people used and abused the use) Thanks girls for all your hard work!

  • nell richter

    Looking for the spreadsheet that lists all groceries with a column for good price, and one for stock up price. Is it still on your website? I lost it on old computer.

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