Hello and welcome to Gateway to Saving! I’d like to take a few minutes to introduce myself.
I’m Alicia, a 30-something wife and mother of three. We own a small farm in the heart of the Ozarks. I’m also a bootstrap business owner, which allows me to work my own hours doing what I love, all while taking care of the family and farm.
What exactly do I do? I run several successful websites, a few not-so-successful websites, write for several publications, and teach workshops, classes, and seminars devoted to helping others do the same.
I spent most of my college career changing majors- for a couple of reasons. The most important being that I was too afraid to speak in front of people. I switched until I was able to avoid a dreaded communications class. I’m also a bit of a knowledge addict. My favorite hobby is research! As my friends and siblings were playing summer sports, I was reading, writing, and completing independent studies. There’s just something satisfying about knowing information before it’s needed. (Of course, the evolution of the internet may have slightly diminished the need for my particular skill.)
Because of my shyness, I ended up pursuing an education in accounting. My fascination with numbers wasn’t suppressed with work alone. It carried over into my personal life. When you live in a small, rural community with limited resources, you have to be creative. There wasn’t always the option to earn more money, but there was always a way to save more.
I spent my spare time trying to stretch every dime. I didn’t want to sacrifice needs and wants, so I had to figure out how to save on them. Sensible shopping became my lifestyle. Instead of researching random topics, I focused every spare moment into learning how to save money. I learned sales cycles, couponing, online shopping, cooking from scratch, gardening, marketing gimmicks, sales tactics, and so much more.
I’ll be honest, when I started my quest to save, my friends laughed at me. Family members thought we were poor. At the time, no one cared about saving money.. the mindset was that if you had it, you spent it. If you didn’t have cash, you applied for a credit card or a loan. Not us. We saved every dime, buying what we needed with cash. We lived in small, older homes- but we owned them. We saved until we had enough money to pay nearly the full amount of our permanent home. We paid cash for our vehicles. We had everything we wanted and needed- and then some. We were able to do things that most people could only dream of.
When the recession began, my friends suddenly became more curious. Instead of spending time saving money, I was spending every spare minute on the phone answering silly questions (this was before the texting craze). People would call me to ask who had the best prices on toilet paper or how to find a restaurant coupon. They were the most curious about my holiday shopping. We were giving thousands of dollars in gifts every year for less than $300.
Finally, one of my friends suggested that I give a class. Teaching everyone at once would eliminate confusion and save me time. I fully rejected the idea at first (remember the shyness I spoke about above?), but eventually gave it. It was scheduled on my birthday, so deep down I thought it might be a surprise party (they did bring cake and gifts). What was supposed to be less than ten of my close friends ended up being 50+ people!
My good friend and co-worker came in and tried to convince me do turn this into a career. I laughed at her- no one was interested in saving money. She wouldn’t give up. She started a web design and told me to pick a name. I couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t taken, so Gateway to Saving was born. ‘Gateway’ to represent Missouri, and ‘Saving’ to represent the obvious. I figured it would fizzle out and I’d never use it. At the time, using coupons was perceived similarly to applying for public assistance.
Little did I know that a reporter was there, so a story was published the next day. Local papers, magazines, and news stations picked up the story, and by the time I got to work on Monday, it was a full-on media frenzy. I’ve since been featured on nearly every television network, and in stories on mint.com, MSNBC, and even the Wall Street Journal.
Within a week, I’d booked over 30 workshops. In a quick decision to expand, I decided expand the workshops to include couponing, in-store savings, and holiday savings. My one-time ‘teach my friends’ class led to over 100 workshops performed in three states within five months.
I was contacted by fairs, employers, women’s shows, magazines, colleges, libraries, outreach programs, and universities. It was a very simple transition into full time work. More than full time work. I’ve now taught over 1,000 workshops and have lost count of additional speaking engagements. I’ve taught classes from coast to coast.
Things have definitely changed over the years. My research expanded to include all aspects of personal finance and home business ownership. Instead of the original five workshops, there are now over FORTY that are given regularly, with additional ones available by request. All are geared toward everyday people who are looking to stretch and add to their incomes.
In the beginning, the website was a static page that provided a brief description and contact information. A forum was later added so that members could share information. It was eventually transformed into a blog.
As things have progressed, I’ve had to cut back a bit on the classes and haven’t had as much time to keep up with the Gateway to Saving Blog. When it began, there were three sites dedicated to saving money, now there are hundreds of thousands.
In addition to Gateway to Saving, I own numerous blogs and sites dedicated to other topics. I also run a Virtual Assistant company, am a food photographer/recipe developer for many large sites and cookbooks, and design professional graphics, party supplies, and planners. My passion is to teach people how to save and earn by doing what they love.
It’s been a long, wild ride… and I honestly thought it would never last a week. I’d like to thank my readers and students for allowing me to spend the past decade doing what I love… helping families keep their finances together.