I met my friend Sherri Hagymas the first year I was married. She lived across the breezeway from our apartment and we became fast friends, never anticipating that years (and years!) later, we'd both be blogging moms. She now blogs about saving money from her home in New Hampshire (a far cry from Raleigh NC, where we met!). And of course I blog here. I asked her to come and share about her blog-- how she got started and what she hopes to accomplish through it. If you need some help in that department, read on!
1. How did you start helping people find ways to save money?
I have had a love of saving money for years and years. Like many, I began my website as a hobby in April 2009. I had fun sharing my bargain finds with anyone I could. I started mainly with coupons and matching them with weekly sales ads at the drugstores and also my local grocery stores. I also found Freebie offers because that's just fun!
As the holiday season rolled around that year, I decided to share many deals to save and shop on a budget. That had a great response too. So I have continued to post a little of everything.
2. Has saving money been a personal journey for you?
Absolutely! I, like many people, had to learn the hard way. I did misuse credit cards when I was younger. I lived in the mindset that I HAD to have this or that. When I became a single mom of an 18 month old I was thrown into "survival mode". I think that's when my personal journey truly began. I had to make things work with very little help. I worked hard and had an immense appreciation for the money I earned. I paid off almost $10,000 in credit card debt in a 2 year period (which I am extremely proud of).
I was fortunate to marry a wonderful man in 2000 and after having our daughter in 2003 we decided I would become a stay-at-home mom. What a blessing! But also a huge sacrifice. I am just an average mom, just like a lot of my readers, trying to make ends meet each month. I have two active children and a new 16 year old driver...thus more insurance. Saving everywhere I can makes it easier during these new seasons.
In my opinion, once you live a frugal lifestyle it becomes a part of you and it's makes you proud.
3. How has your website/Twitter grown or changed since you started?
Luv a Bargain has continued to grow and grow and it's been fun to watch. I currently have over 8,200 Twitter followers and almost 2,200 Facebook Fans. I love to hear from readers how they are learning to save. It makes me feel so good to know I am helping.
4. How do you discover deals to pass on?
I get a LOT of emails. I have subscribed to lots of stores and daily deal sites and get emails of sales, etc. I spend every morning going through them and the best deals to post for everyone. I "Like" many Facebook pages to stay on top of those offers. I am also an affiliate with companies that email me directly special deals to offer my readers. I also now collaborate with other frugal bloggers and share deals with each other. Not every deal is going to be for everyone so I want to have many options.
5. What would you tell a woman who desires to save money for her family?
First and foremost, have a budget! It's imperative to have a plan. Not only for groceries but also for gift giving, etc. Have a list of those you need to buy for all year and carry it around in your purse. When you see a great deal on something, think about who you could buy for on that list. You do not need to pay full price for your gift to be appreciated. Aim for 75% off and always 50% off!! That's what I live by.
Second, have fun! It's a quest to find the best prices and save the most you can. Getting items for FREE or paying pennies for toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, and so much more is so exciting!
Learn to make things and do things yourself. I have made my daughter a bed. http://www.luvabargain.com/2010/09/theres-been-a-project-going-on/ I have tiled my own bathrooms and kitchen backsplash. I have updated and re-purposed items in my house to make them new to me.
Re-evaluate household bills every year: car Insurance, home owners insurance, cable, etc. I just did this actually and saved us almost $75 per month. I look at that as making us an extra $75 per month.
Of course, there will be times when you will have to pay full price. Don't be upset. But overall, living a frugal lifestyle pays off SO much!
Here are a few posts that will help anyone who is getting started.
How to Start Using Coupons - http://www.luvabargain.com/how-to-start-using-coupons/
Getting Started Cutting Your Grocery Budget - http://www.luvabargain.com/2010/09/getting-started-cutting-your-grocery-budget/
Thanks Sherri for sharing with us today! I am sure you'll have some new visitors after this enticing glimpse into what you offer! It sounds like you're helping a lot of people and I am so proud of you!