Today we're going to hear from Denise over at Coupon Clutch. Denise has been a buddy of mine for a while now. I still don't know how she does it all. I barely make it some days and I only have two little ones to contend with :-) I emailed her a while back and asked her to write for the Reader Spotlight because I just love her story. Denise, take it away!
When my now four-year-old quadruplets were in diapers we used as many coupons as possible to help make ends meet, but even though I used coupons I didn't realize that I wasn't really a "couponer." I had worked as a real estate appraiser for 19 years before making the difficult decision last year to close the business. The career that I'd loved and enjoyed for so long had become a depressing drudgery of a job over the last several years as the market dropped and the people who used to be happy to see me (so they could sell their house, or get a home equity loan, or pay their kid's college tuition) began yelling at me once their values started going down. Most of the work was for bankruptcy or foreclosure purposes and I could no longer feel good about a job where the owners were inside weeping because I was there, or even worse, appraising abandoned houses that often had belongings, including children’s clothing, toys and sometimes pets left behind.
That's when I took the plunge, closed the business, cut the budget in half and turned to my lifelong sewing hobby to make a living. While I was in college I had written a couple of craft and sewing books and designed patterns for extra cash, so I decided to pursue my writing and pattern designing full-time in the hope of being able to support the family and still be my own boss. I'd always been a frugal person who loved to share a good deal so I started blogging about my coupon adventures at ShopperStrategy.com and I looked for a way to help my readers and myself to more easily carry our huge coupon collections into the store.
I hated the ugly old binder I was using to organize my coupons and I missed out on deals because I was too embarrassed to carry it into the store. That’s when the pattern for the Coupon Clutch, a fabric binder cover that is designed to look like a tote bag, was created. I stitched up a couple of samples to take marketing photos to help sell the pattern and the samples got snapped up so quickly that I had to make more.
I never intended to sew binder covers for a living, but they kept selling out so quickly that I happily, albeit accidentally, found myself a new job and CouponClutch.com was born. I'm very lucky to have been joined in the business by my mom, dad and husband because there is no way I could keep up with everything on my own, and five kids too. My mom and I do all of the sewing and our men folk do all of the fabric cutting and shipping. We're all enjoying working together and feel like we're setting a good example for the kids who love to "help" with packing and folding boxes.
The ShopperStrategy.com blog and other favorites that I link to every week like I Heart Publix have created a sort of 'limited budget' support group for me and I absolutely love being able to give something back. We definitely still need to coupon to get by, but even if we didn't I wouldn't give it up. It's become a way of life for me, retail therapy and it's cheap or free! Even though I'm working harder now than ever, I'm enjoying it so much more than my last gig and I'd be thrilled if it lasted half as long!
Thanks so much for sharing, Denise!
In order to keep this new feature going, you all are going to have to volunteer to tell us all about something YOU do when you are couponing!! Your post can be about almost anything to do with couponing. You can tell us about a particularly good or bad situation you’ve dealt with as a couponer, about how you got into couponing or how couponing has impacted the rest of your life, you can make a list of things every new couponer should know…just about anything, really! If you think it’s interesting and it has to do with couponing, email me with your idea at contactiheartpublix @ gmail.com!