It’s SO Hard to Say Good-Bye
Before I tell you where I am going I think it is important to tell you where I have been. My hope is that in hearing my story you might be able to glean one last lesson in frugality and what it means to me. I have hesitated in the past to share this information about myself because I do not want people to think that I am bragging or something. I have been trying to be better at sharing in hopes that I can possibly inspire more.My senior year of high school (1999) one of my teachers had us make a poster board presentation for our road map for life. I can’t remember everything I had on it but I do remember a few of the key things. Become a dental hygienist, get married and have 4 kids. Live in a wide open space outside the city. Be a stay at home mom and only work 2 days a week in hygiene after I have kids. I never wanted a career, I wanted an independence and a fall back if I ever needed it so I could always be a mom first.
I left for college and started my path to completing that road map. I got married in year 2 of college, sooner than I expected but I felt like God led me to the time and the right man. We moved to Boise where I went to Dental Hygiene school while my husband entered an electricians apprenticeship. We managed a 32 unit and a 12 unit apartment complex while I went to school. This job gave us free rent and gave us a little extra income each month. I rented the apartments and collected rent while my husband did minor maintenance for our tenants. We lived a very simple life, all the furniture and appliances we owned were either wedding gifts, hand me downs from family or garage sale finds. We bought everything in cash including our first car. In fact when we first went to buy a house we were told we did not have any credit so we went and bought a set of tires for our car that we knew we had cash for and paid them off on a no interest loan in order to build some credit. We also got our first credit card and only charged it with money we knew we had in the bank.
In 2003 I graduated from dental hygiene school and we also bought our first house. We had been able to save up money for our down payment because we had lived rent free for almost 2 years and my husband was able to work as an apprentice and be schooled at the same time for his journeyman electrician. I loved this house. We had picked out the lot and the floor plan and many of the details inside. I worked hard that first year out of school. I took on as many hours as I could. I put 80% of my paychecks right down on my student loans, 10% to charitable donation and 10% for savings and we lived solely off my husbands income. I paid off $20,000 in student loans in just 6 months.
In those early years we were definitely nerds and eager to learn about the real word. We checked out audio books from the library like Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, books by Suze Orman and Smart Couples Finish Rich by, David Bach. We would get together with our friends and play Cash Flow. A board game designed by Robert Kiyosaki that taught real life money and investing principles to help you get out of the rat race. So in 2005 when an opportunity came along for us to get a loan and finance a build job and then split the profit with the builder we decided to take the opportunity. We built the house with the thought in mind that if it didn’t sell we might have to sell our home and move into it. Luckily it did sell and we were able to make a nice profit.
Then one day in 2006 my husband drove by a house with land and fell in love. I was not in love, the laundry room was a closet in the bathroom and the kitchen was tiny with not much of a pantry. He told me the plan was to build a shop himself and increase the value and then in 2 years when we could sell without tax penalty we would sell and move into a house that was more to my liking. So I agreed. I did not want to part with the house we had just built and we had been wanting to find a rental so I convinced him that we should keep our first house and rent it out. I used my apartment management skills to find a good renter and we had our first rental property. We had planned on rolling over the profit from our build job into a rental property but we were not selling our house so we needed that money to put down on the house with the property. So we did. 2 Years later was 2008 and the economy had crashed so we could not sell our house.
This move put us right in an area where we started going to church with the Yoder family. My husband and I got to know Cathy’s husband playing volleyball and other church sports, but I did not get to know Cathy at first. In 2008 we both had babies and started blogging. We were on a church committee together when she got the idea to start a blog about saving money at the grocery store. I thought it was a great idea and started sending her deals that I would find. She added me as an author and we started blogging on FabulesslyFrugal.blogspot.com. Only a few months went by and we started to notice that 100’s of people were looking at our little blog. We didn’t tell 100 people about the blog. We were amazed that it was growing. We were sharing something cool and people were starting to pay attention.
We started to grow a community, people were leaving comments on our posts and we felt like we were getting to know them. Our friend Amber came up with the brilliant idea to use our community to host a charity garage sale. It was so fun it gave us an opportunity to meet many of you including another Amber who also joined us in writing on the blog. As we worked through 2009 sharing the deals, teaching coupon classes, building the blog and trying to never let our readers down we also started to learn about ways we could monetize a blog. In March of 2009 Cathy’s husband lost his job and Cathy found out she was pregnant with baby number 7. I knew that we had to figure out a way to earn enough money to support Cathy’s family. You can read all about that in this New York Times article.
In 2010 Cathy and I had learned enough that we decided to start an official business. We enlisted the help of some friends and readers to become paid authors. Amber even landed us our first local news appearance. I loved helping people learn to save money. I loved getting to know and build a community. I loved giving back with our annual charity garage sale. I loved providing great deals for our readers. Above you can see our original crew.
Here are some highlights from the years.
In 2011 Cathy and I recorded our couponing class on DVD and started selling it online. Our team of amazing writers also grew!
In 2012 we got to meet Dave Ramsey and Rascal Flatts and Josh Duhamel!
We got featured in the New York Times Magazine.
And we got to fly to New York to be on the Today Show.
We got to meet Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze.
Through the years we became blogging buddies with amazing women who know what it is like to be a mom-preneur. I feel blessed to know many of those woman especially Sarah Barrand and Kasey Trenum.
We built our blog helping people save money on groceries and online, but when interest in couponing died out we knew we had to make some big changes in 2015. We had a desire to build up the community and connection that we had with you. We had a desire to help you be a better you but wondered if your needs had changed over the years. We continued to bring you the online deals that you love but we started to put more focus on health. We had personally been through some major health changes and we wanted to help others find those too. I had an amazing year hosting fitness challenges and seeing many of you make real life changes by losing weight, forming healthy habits, and discovering essential oils. Wow! You really impressed and inspired me.
So back to my story. Moving to that house with land put me right where God wanted me. He wanted me to help Cathy build a blog. He wanted me to help her keep it going when times got tough. He wanted me to help people in my community and subsequently all over the country through tough economic times. It also become a blessing for me. I wasn’t able to move from my house with the small kitchen because of the economy but I was able to pay cash for a remodel that included a laundry room upstairs and a large kitchen. Many of you helped me pick out those cabinets that I got from Western Idaho Cabinets. Remember here and here. My husband was able to quit his job as an electrician and go into real estate in Boise full time because I could support the family with blog income until he got things going. Working hard on the blog allowed my husband and I to buy more investment properties over the years and pay off that first house we bought.
Why am I saying goodbye? Well as I showed you in the beginning I had a plan for myself right out of high school and I set out to quickly achieve that plan. I achieved many of those things and then God turned me a different way. Building a blog and business has been a great joy and a great trial. It has taught me many skills and pushed me far beyond anything I thought I was ever capable of. God put me through some earth shattering trials this last year and when I finally came out of them I realized that it was time for me to return to my original plan of being a stay at home mom now only working 1 day a week as a Dental Hygienist. But now that my 2 kids are both in school I will also have time to help my husband get us out of the rat race by using the investment tool of real estate. I learned through this experience that what we plan for our lives is not always what God has planned for our lives, but if we remain faithful to him he will provide for us the things that we really need. My problem is that too often I think I know what I am doing and I do not heed the counsel of the Lord. Then he has to put me in situations where it is spelled out for me and I finally get it. Choosing to leave this blog and my partnership with Cathy has been one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, but I know that as I do what God wants, my family and I will be blessed and I believe and hope that Cathy and her family will be too.
Why is it hard to say goodbye? The things I will miss most are the relationships. I will miss opportunities to meet and get to know other bloggers. I will miss the amazing women that work on the FF team, thank goodness for facebook. I will miss the opportunities to get to know you the readers. I will miss having a voice for good that reaches beyond my group of friends. I will especially miss my friend and business partner Cathy. I know she will still live down the street, but it won’t be the same.
What is next for me? Well first of all I am going to be spending more quality time with my family without constant distractions from social channels, emails, facebook messenger, text messages and team chats. I am going to organize some things in my house that have been waiting for my attention since 2008. I am excited to announce that I will be helping my husband continue to grow his real estate business. I am excited to be able to work with people one on one to find their dream homes. I am excited to teach them what we have learned about real estate over these years and how it can help you get out of the rat race. I am excited to work with my husband. He is the kind of realtor that has told people on more than one occasion that they should not sell their house if he did not think it was a good idea for their financial situation. I am so proud of that. He truly cares more about people than he does about getting a sale. If you want to connect with me for real estate in the Boise area you can find me on instagram here. If you are just curious about what I am up to follow me on facebook here.
What is next for the blog? Exciting things are in store for the blog. You will be seeing a really cool new site design very soon. It will make it easier for you to find the posts that you love. You will still be getting all of the great content you love. The FF team provides most of that. You will be seeing more live appearances on facebook from Cathy. With holidays coming up you will be seeing lots of great deals and possibly some really exciting giveaways.
So this is it. I am saying good-bye. I hope that my presence has inspired you in some way for good, that has always been my ultimate goal.
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Monica, I wish you much success and happy times with your family creating loving memories. Thank you for all the care, ideas, tips and inspiration you have shared.
Hoping your new adventure will be a great one for you and your family.
Thank you for your kind thoughts Debi. It was my pleasure.
Good Luck to your new chapter in life!
Aw Monica – I’m so excited for wherever God is taking you and I know He will bless you and your family abundantly!
Thanks for your encouragement and we’ll wishes.
I think it’s awesome that you are following God’s plan for your life. Thank you for helping me save money. I wish all the best for you and your family!!
My pleasure Amy! Thank you for your well wishes.
Thank you thank you thank you for teaching these important principles of financial prosperity and peace. Wishing you wonderful things in your next adventure.
My pleasure Shelley. Thank you for your well wishes as well.
Monica I hope you get all out of life that you want and need. God Bless you and your family and your FF family as well. Thank you all for the great lessons and I look forward to learning more. I know you will never lose touch with your FF family and that has to be a wonderful feeling.
Thanks Micki, you are so sweet.
This world of “frugal blogging” can be a blessing and a curse. I’m sure it was an extremely difficult choice to step away- but God will continue to bless you as you follow His will.
It was such a pleasure to meet you “in real life”!
I am so glad that I got to meet you this year. I really enjoyed getting to know you. Good luck to you with your blog.
Thank you for all you have taught us about being frugal. This was one of the first blogs I used all the time when I first learned couponing. It has been a blessing to our family
I am so glad you were blessed. It is so fun to see followers from the early days. I love it.
Best wishes and many blessings to you as you leave this blog.. Follow your heart and follow the Angels that are guiding you on this new journey.
Merilee in St. Pete
Thanks Merilee. It means a lot. 🙂
Best wishes to you and your family.
Thank you Cynthia. Same to you.
Monica, I wish you the very best! I’m grateful to you and Cathy for all the help over the years in my coupon journey. Please let us know how you’re doing in your new endeavor!!!
Cheryl- So excited to see that you still follow. It was fun getting to meet you in the early days. Thank you for your kind words.
You’re awesome Monica! Best prayers.:)
Thanks Natricia, I hope you and your family are well. I miss seeing you around.
Monica, your an amazing, strong woman. It takes a lot of courage to let go and follow your inspiration. So proud of you and all you have accomplished but I know great things are still ahead for you and your family. Enjoy this next chapter in your life and hopefully we will get to see one another more often. ???❤️
Thank you. I hope to see you more often too. Happy to see that you are a blog follower. I never knew.
Monica, It was nice to know more about you. I have been a member since I saw you on NBC news. All the best for you and your family. God is great!!!
Thanks Sara. That is exciting that you found us on the news. I am so glad you stuck around.
You are such a Sweet Girl! I’m so excited for your new journey! I remember the first time I saw your coupon shopping ‘stash’ and the first ‘jackpot’ I hit couponing! I wish you much success and I know you are headed in the right direction! #followgodsplan ???
Thanks MaryJo. ?