I can’t believe I am even writing this- A Frugal Chick turned 7 September 1st.
7 years ago I was on a break from grad school. Summer semester ended around August 20th. Fall semester began after Labor Day. I had one class left- writing my thesis. I got bored and started a business because I didn’t have any homework to do.
Grad school had been a big challenge for me. Not because the classes were tough but because I was trying to pay for it as I went along. You see, my boss had told me that my company would reimburse me at the end of each semester for my classes. I would still have to pay for books, any travel and up front for each semester so I took out a $20,000 Home Equity Line of Credit. It gave me plenty of wiggle room in case I didn’t get reimbursed quickly or something happened.
I finished my first semester. I got A’s in both of my classes. I was working full time (more than full-time actually since I was required to have my BlackBerry on my person 24/7) and going to school and had figured out how to balance that while still occasionally seeing my friends and family. Things were good. Once my final grades were posted I printed everything off, submitted an official memo and waited. My second semester started and I attacked it the same as I had my first.
About a week later my boss calls me into the office. In spite of my management position the corporate office had decided that Organizational Leadership was not a masters that would be relevant to my job. They weren’t going to give me a penny for school. After answering phone calls at 3 a.m. and sleeping with my laptop to be there when they needed me my job wasn’t enough for them to keep their word.
There was no way to fight. I couldn’t quit- I had just paid for my second semester of graduate school out of a loan that I was now going to have to pay back myself. Plus grad school was only 5 semesters and I was halfway through the second- after working so hard to get in and keep good grades I wasn’t going to drop out of school.
I went home that night and made a list of every bill I could cut. I dropped my gym membership. I quit using my air conditioning. I dyed my hair back with box color to it’s original shade. I sucked it up and went in every day to a job I resented with a corporate office that said I wasn’t important.
After a month of this I knew it still wasn’t going to be enough. I got a second job teaching voice and piano three nights a week. I worked from 7:30 in the morning until 9 p.m. at night and then went home to do homework. I paid down the balance on the loan just to run it up again the next semester when I paid my bill.
But most importantly, I started using coupons. For everything. I learned the policy for every store, pinched pennies in every way I could and ate whatever I could get my hands on. And I got obsessed. I started talking to whomever would listen about what I was doing. I posted pictures on social media. I drove my family crazy. Finally my mom said “you should start one of those website things- someone will want to hear about this.” That’s code for “I’m sick of you talking about it- find someone who cares.”
So September 1, 2009 I launched AFrugalChick.com with a template website and $9.99 for the URL. I had no clue what I was doing. I even remember what I did for my first marketing campaign- I printed business cards and taped them to candy I handed out for Halloween (which I bought with a coupon). I didn’t know if it was something I could make money doing- I just had things I wanted to tell people.
Blogger friends and I at a conference!
I graduated in December 2009 with $22,000 in debt. School had been around $35,000 in total so I was pretty proud of what I had accomplished. Now I needed to attack the debt.
I kept living like I was broke (I really was). I had really gotten the hang of the coupon thing now so my grocery and household bills were about non-existent. Now that I wasn’t doing homework at night I could work on the website. And it grew. And I learned. I took every spare penny I had to the bank to pay down that loan. I was making more money than I ever had before and still didn’t have a DVR. Or highlights. Or a car with all working doors.
February 18, 2011 that same job laid me off. No warning. I went to work in the morning and in the afternoon went home with a box (like so many of you have). Luckily I had not taken any vacation time (who had money for vacation?) so I had six weeks severance coming- pretty much the exact amount I still owed on the loan. I stuck it in savings, crossed my fingers and dove into the website.
Six weeks later I paid off the loan.
I’ll be honest- it’s still a neck in neck race at the end of the month to see if the income will be more than the bills. Less and less people are using coupons which means less income for me and people who do what I do. But I have learned the meaning of “poor and happy.” I have a beautiful niece and two wonderful nephews that I get to spend time with because I don’t have a traditional 9 to 5. Some days I get up at 5 a.m. so I can work and then go to the zoo for the day. Some nights I stay up until 5 a.m. so that I can get you guys the best deals to help your families.
Like everyone else some days stink. Lots of days I would like to have someone else handling taxes and health insurance. I would love to have a steady paycheck and not be my own I.T. department. But overall I get up every morning excited to do my job. Excited to help your families. Excited to hopefully make a difference for someone.
Excited to never have to say the word “corporate.”
God has blessed.
Want to Win a Gift Card?
To celebrate I want to give away an Amazon gift card. A $108 Amazon gift card actually- to celebrate the beginning of the 8th year of my website. And hopefully many more years to come!
I am giving you up to SIX chances to enter. You can get one entry for each thing you do below. When you do it just leave me a comment and let me know. So you can leave up to six comments!
- Leave me a comment letting me know the answer to this question- “How Did You First Hear About A Frugal Chick?” Leave a comment with teh answer!
- Join my shopping Facebook group. Leave a comment telling me you do!
- Sign up for my Daily E-mail. Every morning at 10 a.m. EST you will get an e-mail with the best deals of the past 24 hours.
- Follow me on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you do!
- Follow me on Twitter. Leave a comment telling me you do!
- Follow me on Instagram. Leave a comment telling me you do!
On September 15th the computer will pick a winner. I will e-mail them and they will have 24 hours to get back to me with their address. Otherwise I will head on to the next winner.
Good Luck everyone and thanks for helping my business turn 7!