My husband and I owned a mortgage company when the real estate market crashed. Our mission for many years was to “Inspire and Help Families in our community to own their own home”. We kept our business small and worked directly with our local community rather than reaching out to other markets because that is where our heart has always been.
In our area, a large percentage of employment was directly related to the real estate industry, most people were either in the construction field or some form of real estate since we were just coming out of a period of rapid growth in our area. Many of us (including me and my family) went from working long hours with regular paychecks to having absolutely no work and no income coming in. Since I was self employed, I did not have the option of unemployment, but even for those that did, it wasn’t anywhere near what they were making prior to the market crashing. Families were REALLY struggling to make ends meet and keep food on the table. It was the worst that I have ever seen the economy and for a time it appeared that there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
My step daughter and her husband had just adopted two little girls and both had recently taken a substantial pay cut, my best friend who worked for a local developer took a major cut in her pay as well. We were all struggling BIG TIME. I had heard of this lady that bought $200 in groceries and only paid $20 after coupons and although it seemed impossible to be real, we decided to investigate this and figure out HOW to do this!
We dug deep into the resources online, called corporate offices of the local grocery stores to totally familiarize ourselves with their coupon policies and how to use coupons effectively to maximize our savings. Together we researched how to coupon extensively and had our deals carefully planned. We were BEYOND nervous to try it out since we were all flat broke at the time and if the coupons weren’t accepted it would be extremely embarrassing. On our first shopping trip with coupons my step daughter Erica was able to buy $236 worth of groceries for $12.36 out of pocket and I purchased $210 worth of groceries for a little over $20.00! We could NOT believe it! Very quickly we were able to fill our pantries and freezers and it became very clear that we could also help others at the same time. We went from feeling like we didn’t have enough to having more than enough and even enough to share with others that were struggling too. We had a renewed hop to our step and a feeling of hope and excitement which we hadn’t felt for months. At the time, we knew of NO ONE in our area that was couponing on this level.
I felt inspired to show others how to save money for their families and starting telling anyone who would listen. Since this was so new and the coupon craze hadn’t hit the nation in full force yet, people had no idea what I was talking about. After encouragement from a close friend to hold a class, we set up a makeshift meeting room in a vacant building using lawn chairs for seating and put out word that I would be teaching people how to coupon. We had 21 people show up at the first class and mid way through the class two ladies began crying when it “clicked” and they realized that it WAS possible to do this and that they felt that they would be able to afford groceries to feed their families. It was at that moment that I realized that this was about A LOT MORE than coupons, it was about inspiring hope, encouraging others to persevere and also to create a community of those that can then reach out and help others once they were in a position to do so.
Our original meeting place could only hold 25 people, we were holding classes three times per week at our small little meeting place and couldn’t keep up with the number of people wanting to learn. I was approached by a local church to hold a class for their congregation to help them learn to coupon for their families but also to fill their church pantries so that they could help families in need as well. We expected a crowd of approximately 50 and had over 100 show up! Within three days two grocery carts full of groceries were brought to their church pantry by those that had taken the class and were donating to stock the pantry! That class led me to teaching at other Churches and schools in the area in an effort to fill up the local pantries and teach others how to help families that were struggling.
Left and right people jumped on board to walk along side of me, a teacher wanted a class for her friends, a weight watchers coach wanted to spread the word to those at her meetings, a mommy group leader wanted to teach new mothers how to save on baby items, a local home for unwed teen mothers wanted to teach the young ladies skills to succeed and things began to flow. Before I knew it, we had crowds of over 200 at our classes held at churches, I was traveling throughout Florida and people were pumped up, getting deals for their families and GENEROUSLY sharing with those in need, it was incredible and inspiring!
Early on I knew that it was necessary to create some form of support for everyone once they learned how to coupon so I created MyCouponExpert.com. The site was a place that I could post easy to understand breakdowns on how to do each deal, where to find the coupons and exactly what to do to make it super easy. Once that was up and running we needed an area that we could communicate with one another, ask questions, cheer for each others deals and inspire each other to make a difference in our community where so many were hurting financially. That is how our facebook page and chat page started. It grew rapidly as a place that we could all unite and work together! As people gained knowledge and experience they would then help those coming up behind them who were just learning and this AMAZING community of giving people emerged! Time and time again, people whom I had never met in person would step up and offer to help, jump in when someone needed help or to explain a deal, together we were making a difference and it was FUN! Since we were all in the same boat financially, we all felt the same inspiration to help others that needed help too and united together to make a difference. It has been nothing short of one of the most surreal experiences of my life, I am still in awe at the incredible giving spirits of so many and have seen that in ALL OF US, we have the deep rooted desire to help each other. I have seen people come to the page with very little food in their homes and depressed who are uplifted by others and encouraged that it will get better, taught little by little how to save with coupons and before I know it, that same person is on the page pumped up and helping someone else. It is amazing to watch and an honor to be a part of.
So here we are nearly seven years later and MyCouponExpert.com has grown by leaps and bounds. We have people from many others states in our group and the excitement level each day on our facebook chat page is off the chain! Our page is one of the most positive and uplifting coupon pages on the internet and I am approached regularly by large bloggers asking me how I keep the page so positive and drama free. I have found that when people unite with a similar goal in mind and are encouraged to then share that knowledge with others and make a difference in their corner of the world people will naturally step up and do it without hesitation! I am SO thankful for each and every one of you, together we CAN make a difference!
It truly is about a LOT more than just coupons. Thank you all for being a part of it
Come on over to our facebook chat page or check out our facebook fan page and join in on the fun if you haven’t already. I would love to hear about your story and when you started couponing. How did you find MyCouponExpert? Let’s talk!