So we are now in the heart of the holiday shopping season. Honestly, it’s not really that big of a deal for us. We didn’t become The Thrifty Couple by waiting for the sales and deals from Black Friday through Christmas. In fact, it is fair and safe to say that this month long spending or saving (depending on how you look at it) was a big contributor to our $100K debt-load. We were HUGE Black Friday shoppers every year from our first year of marriage, but that quickly halted once we actually and finally got serious about getting debt-free and gaining financial freedom for once.
So, with that, this post may be an interesting one for you to read from us. It seems funny to be talking about deals all of the time, when deals in fact can be your worst financial enemy.
But that is where we think this post is vital for you and for us. We want to let you know where our transitioning focus and direction is going here on our site. The funny thing is…. we are calling this “transitioning” but it was the original plan all along when we started our blog.
We have a tendency to be brutally honest with our readers from our deep in debt to debt-free story, the birth of our son, trials in our lives and even our daily routine. We hope we have done a good job of setting ourselves apart from the rest of the money-saving and deal sites out there and show that we are a real couple, a real family, and we truly worked our way out of a bad financial situation and continue to find ways to improve our lives.
Now, even though that is our hope, we are afraid that we haven’t hit the target just right. We do share a lot of deals and even coupons, but surprisingly, this is just a small portion of our personal thrifty lives. Sharing so many deals and coupons wasn’t our original intention, but it naturally led there for many reasons, one of them being that when we started, there weren’t the tens of thousands of deals sites that there are now. There was just some and we saw a need to post deals on things we found to help all of you. Well, the blogging world with blogs focused on sharing deals and coupons exploded – especially with the popularity of the “fake” reality show “Extreme Couponing.”
So even though we started posting many deals, the funny thing is that we rarely buy the things we are posting – even if you see a picture of a cart in a post we did. We only show this picture of the cart to test the deal, but we don’t complete the transaction. If we did, we would be plum broke and still in a terrible and ghastly amount of debt. But instead, we are pretty picky about what we buy.
We are more generous in what we spend in the areas of education and high quality items. For example, we have been trying to find the perfect digital video camera for over 5 months now. We have been saving and we have been researching hoping to get a deal on a nicer high quality one. We make those types of purchases on rare occasions, but try to be very thoughtful and research thoroughly.
We bought our first gaming system last year for the first time in our family. And that was the Wii (not even on Black Friday, but in the Spring with an even better deal!). We deliberately waited for a while to see if this was truly something our family wanted and needed – then saved and researched. We ended up choosing the Wii because one of our primary purposes for it was for the Wii Fit, which has been very helpful. We only have the two games it came with (Wii Sports Resort and Wii Sports) and the Wii Fit and recently added the Jillian Michael’s workout for myself (Cassie ;)) and currently have no intention of buying more games as it meets our family’s needs now and no need to make everyone discontent by needing more games.
We were actually thinking about sharing some of our frugal struggles that we face today and the things we are saving for around our house, and give you insight into our personal budget, what we have bought since becoming debt-free and more…… but for now and until we write those posts, know that spending is dangerous.
With that background and us trying to be as honest as we can, we feel like we’ve really run into a problem and a problem that we had during the last two Christmas seasons of shopping here on The Thrifty Couple.
Although I just mentioned it above, did you really know that we hardly ever take advantage of the deals we post? We really are not sure if we have portrayed that well.
If we don’t hardly take advantage of it – why on earth are we posting and talking about those deals?? Well, to be honest, we have tried to share what we feel is the best of the best, the most beneficial or the best alternatives all year round – but especially this time of year.
Last year, we shared tons and tons of deals from TVs, blu-ray players (which we don’t own yet and probably won’t for at least this year, we still have a very functional 10-year old DVD player :)), and so much more – in fact, tons! We both started not liking what we were sharing as we started having these thoughts that perhaps when you come to our site, you were being encouraged to spend money rather than to be thrifty. WE.DON’T.LIKE.THAT!
We want our site to be a financial safe-haven and a place to come and be encouraged, be engaged with our story and lives so that you can meet your financial goals, and to every-once-in-a-while get a deal on something that you were already planning to buy, but hopefully get it for a better price than you would have through our research.
With that, here’s where we are going to be brutally honest……we love doing this site, we love to share our lives with you. But this site isn’t done without a financial benefit to us too. We do earn income on this site, it isn’t the main form, it isn’t the only form, it is a side business. You know, one of those side jobs that we mention on our over 100 ways to earn extra income.
We earn money by having the ads on the side bars, we earn money by our sponsors and we earn money from affiliates.
Do you know what affiliates are? Most all of them are online retailers.
Whenever you see a site out there somewhere posting deals/sales/items, etc. these sites are getting a kick-back. The goal of these sites is to have you click on their link and use their links to buy the item. If you use another link, that site does not get paid. These kick-back commissions from affiliates are not that big, in fact it is pretty miniscule. But it adds up when you post a lot of deals. Which is why there has been a burst of deal and money saving sites out there recently.
So why are we telling you this? Well, we do make a kick-back from the bulk of online deals we post (like all of the other sites out there). But we don’t want to just be regurgitating information that you can find on thousands of sites as far as sales and deals go – we want to be unique, real and have you engaged with us.
We don’t want you to come, spend money and us make money off of your visit.
We want any income that we make on our site to “just happen” naturally from us sharing those awesome tips that we want to share because we believe in them – not something we share just because we want to make money.
And not because we posted and encouraged you to do so against your normal plan.
In fact, I follow a lot of sites and blogs…but believe it or not, I don’t follow any sites that share coupons and deals. Why? Because the potential savings far outweighs the financial pit falls. Everything is such a “great deal” that it is far too tempting and we end up with things that we wouldn’t normally get anyway and spending far more than we intended. Even in the area of groceries.
I have struggled over my frugal years with the battle between true frugality and healthy living (which you really can be frugal and healthy) and the other side of getting my grocery bill as low as possible, even if it includes a number of things that I wouldn’t normally buy that I don’t think are worthwhile or healthy foods to begin with. But when it is free or really cheap….who cares about whether or not it is healthy or something I would normally buy? The FREE – CHEAP price tag outweighs what I would normally do as the temptation is far too large.
So with that background, we will still post deals when we find things that are truly awesome! We hope you noticed, but this year so far, we have been sharing gift ideas under $10 and $5 as we don’t personally spend more than this. We haven’t been this picky about what we post – but we don’t want to encourage you to spend money! And this means that we make even less money on our site – but we started this site, not to make money, but to help people.
We want our focus to be on that goal and perhaps we will make some money doing so in some way. We have already made significantly less on our site in the last few months than we previously did as we make a transition from sharing a lot of deals and a little bit of our personal financial content, but we also feel like we are starting to become more real! We are now trying to make that shift from sharing mostly deals and some personal unique articles to now become more balanced and find a lot more timeless information and not a continuous buffet of all-you-can-
If we do happen to share something higher priced, you can now rest-assured it is because we truly think it is a good deal for those looking for that item or something like it. For example, we posted about a super deal on a Kitchenaid Mixer at Kohls. This was truly the best deals on Kitchenaid mixers. It is actually very similar to the Kohls Black Friday Kitchenaid mixer deals for a few years in a row. Those prices for new ones have not been beat. I have had a Kitchenaid mixer on my list and although am tempted to get one this year, it is not as high as other priorities on our list, so I am waiting at least another year until the Black Friday sale at Kohls again as I am pretty confident it will be similar deal next year too!
We also want you to know that when we post something with “hurry” and “quickly” meaning hurry and go get this coupon or this deal…etc. it is because you really do need to hurry. Not because we are trying to be the first to make a buck! There are thousands of sites out there who do focus on deals and savings posting continuously and as much as they can – not focusing so much on a frugal, thrifty lifestyle. We don’t want to be one of those sites. But the deals have a very vital place in everyone’s lives because when you are ready to get that Wii, TV, Kitchenaid mixer, laptop, etc. YOU WANT THE BEST DEAL!
So how are we proceeding forward?
- We still intend to have the grocery shopping and national drug and chain store deals in a shopping list with coupon matchups on our site HERE for you to utilize when you need them and updated each time a new sale starts. This is still vital to a frugal lifestyle because you have to buy groceries.
- We still intend to provide our online and in-store diaper deals found HERE as it is another area that is vital if you use disposable diapers and have a baby! We want to help you save in this unavoidable area.
- We will still share our restaurant and retail coupon round-up because if you are going to eat out or go shopping around town, we want you to get those additional discounts. All of this leads to a frugal lifestyle.
- We still will share occasional deals when we find something really is truly a great deal and try to post unique deals from our own research.
- And of course we will continue to remind you about new coupons in case you use those products and can save a bit more.
- We will still have a lot of fun giveaways!
- Finally, we want to share more articles, our lifestyle, personal tips and things that lead to a overall financially healthy lifestyle for a lifetime. We hope to have a few or more (as time allows) of these each week.
- Also, we won’t leave you high and dry on the deals – we are writing a post to go up soon on the secrets to finding the best deals – the ones we and many bloggers use to find deals to pass to you. Now you can avoid the middle-man and get right to the exact best deal…. watch for that soon 🙂
Coming in 2013, we are going to be even more honest with you and share our financial lives even more intimately and share with you even where the income from this site and our other side businesses will go, our budget, etc. We think that this information is valuable for you to see to be encouraged and gain ideas as well as for you to share with us more ideas and how may be able to do even better with our finances (we are not financial experts, just a couple with a lot of hands-on experience, but we are not know-it-alls :))
We hope that our brutal honesty hasn’t been a turn-off for you, but rather an encouragement to you that we are here for you in the area of your financial well being – and not our own financial well-being!
As we continue this journey in a new and more focused direction, we look forward to having you stick around with us and get to know us more and us get to know you more!
Alex and Cassie