|Today is May 22nd, 2018. How much money have you saved today?|
A Common Concern
Someone sent me (Douglas) an email wanting to know why, if we're in this to help teach you how to save money, I'm charging for memberships. It's a great question, and I sent her an email back very similar to the response you're about to read. I presented this answer to the current members of Fractured Frugal Friends for their input and feedback. A few of them gave me additional things that I should have added in. This whole page is dedicated to them, because the MEMBERS are the whole reason why I even run this website. To our family members here, thank you for being here and making OUR site what it is today!
You're encouraged to read testimonials from our members, and their thoughts/reasons for joining a site that teaches them how to save money, and why they paid for it. All the replies that you see here are directly posted by the members themselves, completely unedited and unaltered.
"You build a site to attract people who want to save money... and then expect them to pay to join! That's hilarious! Good Luck to you!"
My answer to this question:
I thought I'd personally respond to your short, yet very direct email.
You're right, I do have to charge for memberships. Is it the best way to have to handle this? Maybe, maybe not. I do know that I cannot afford a $500.00 (a month) server bill out of my pocket to help hundreds and hundreds of people.
Before you do decide to criticize me for charging memberships, take a look at the following. It may surprise you as to what you can find out.
We've got some of the strongest privacy policies of any web site around. I don't sell your information, I don't even reveal it to the moderators or members here. Your personal and private information is just that: PERSONAL AND PRIVATE! This stems from me being involved with communities in some facet since 1996.
We're Advertisement and Banner free for paying members, IF they wish. Your membership helps keep the site that way. The only exception to this would be the free newsletter we'll be offering on the public site. Even then, I pick and choose who gets to advertise and who doesn't. All ads are geared towards frugality or educating people or for small business. Beyond that, the site's ad free (except for the plugs for people that designed some skins on the forums).
We're family safe. While we don't necessarily gear our discussion for kids, we also don't allow links to pornography, illegal software, hacking or other illicit type sites. We do this to help protect our members from the miscreants that seem to enjoy making people victims of their malicious acts. We also do filter for some language, but don't restrict it unless it becomes absolutely necessary. We also try to keep the debates at a minimum, so that you're continually learning and don't have to worry about being drawn into a discussion where you're not comfortable.
Of the hudrends of members, you'll find lawyers, nurses, teachers, stay at home moms, accountants, daycare providers, etc. You'll find people from all over the world. We currently span 10 countries from Hong Kong all the way to New Zealand. Our site IS a replacement site for Frugal Moms, which closed after 3 and 1/2 years, one year as a paid site. You're going to find that there's a lot of the larger frugality based sites that are starting to convert to paid memberships. Those of us that run these sites simply cannot afford to pay the server bills and coder's expenses out of our own pocket. Trust me, if I were a millionaire, do you think I'd charge people? Absolutely not!
Now, here's what you DO get to learn. When I say "we", I am referencing both Fractured Frugal Friends as well as Frugal Moms.
We teach our members (members teaching other members, mind you) how to shop better for groceries. We've got several "challenge yourself" items that will challenge you how to reduce your annual grocery budget by anywhere from $500-$1000 per year by showing you how to look for loss leaders, better coupons and even free items. We've had several members that have been able to get things for free between rebates, coupons and double coupon days at their grocery stores. One of our members managed to save almost $2500 on groceries alone in two years. That's a nice return on a $12.50 or $20.00 membership.
We've got another member that has managed to get her non mortgage debt down by several 10's of thusands of dollars. She's now using those techniques to help other members pay down their debts. We've got several members that were able to avoid filing for bankruptcy because of this one member that was willing to help share her knowledge to benefit others. She'll walk you, step by step, on what you need to know in order to reduce your debt, without losing your sanity. Amount of savings: unknown, but would be in the thousands, if you've got a high debt and stick to your plans and draw support from your fellow members.
Quite frankly, I'd be real surprised if the wonderful folks here didn't show you how to save yourself $100 the first month of being on board. Heck, it's not uncommon to hear about people saving that their first week on board as a member. Think about it.
We help teach people how to reduce, reuse and recycle. Between utilities and the environment, we're seeing less and less of our hard earned money go into our bank accounts for our future. Rather, it goes into the pocket of Big Businesses where they go and spend it. It also means that we're depleting our natural resources. We'll show you how to be more aggressive in tackling any energy (heat, gas, utilities) issues, so that you're helping not only your wallet, but also the environment. Amount of savings: Unknown, but it goes back into your wallet, and it'll be more than the amount of membership.
Having computer problems? Between myself and a few other people, you'll probably be able to find more advice on how to fix problems with your computer or internet. Questions ranging from usage on our site to general computer hardware/software issues to even buying a new computer. We'll help you out any way we can. Amount of savings: Depends on how much you use the Help forums, but keep in mind that when I do an onsite/house call for computer maintenance/repair, I charge $50.00 an hour, two hours minimum.
If you're totally new to frugality, we'll help you get started. There's a forum that's set for people that are totally new to frugality, we'll show you the very first things you should start looking at, budget wise.
In our Fun and Games section, you can use this information to enhance your knowledge of history, learn about your fellow members or just even take part in some of the silliest and most fun questions you'll find anywhere on the internet or real life. Yes, we even have jokes and humor in there too.
Because we do span 10 countries across the globe, we've got forums that are set up for 4 continents/countries. This is where you can truly keep up to date on current events. We've had several members that heard about the Columbia Tragedy on FFF before they even heard it on their news. Because of the global landscape we have, you can truly find out how different countries economies are affecting other people. If you're planning on travel, the members of FFF in those countries can also help you by telling you what to watch for, some great places to visit and some really frugal places to have fun. Also, if you have children that are participating in world history, sociology, economics or anything dealing with the general world, between the members here and the people on the chat server, we can put our members in touch with just about any country that they need to learn about, including any Dutch countries, German, Greek, Belgian, Chilean, Canadian and so much more. Amount of savings and frustration: Unknown, but guaranteed to be more than the cost of a membership.
If you're thinking about taking up hobbies such as scrapbooking, sewing, quilting, gardening, homesteading, decorating, simplifying your lifestyle, poetry or virtually any other crafts, we've got a wonderful section dedicated for that. We can help teach you the more frugal ways to learn how to do all of this, all without losing your sanity. We've got a TON of experts in this section, so you're bound to learn a LOT! Knowledge is priceless, especially when you not only learn, but teach.
Are you new to eBay, Half.com or uBid? Are you a Work At Home parent? We've got several experts hanging out in that section too. Trust me, you'll get more help in these sections than you will on the sites that promote themselves as the experts. The amount of time that you'll save by posting here is worth the membership fee alone.
We've got several challenges (I talked about two of them already with groceries and debt reduction/money management) that you can take part in. Going from the above two, to Healthy Living, to Getting Organized, to Snowball Savings funds, we WILL challenge you to get a better grip on your health, budget, lifestyle and organization. All part of your membership.
Who can forget about our cooking section? That's probably one of my favorite sections. We've got over 900 recipes in the recipe books alone, on top of the recipe forums, where you can get virtually just about any question answered that you ask. Have a large party, but want to serve them frugally (Note: NOT CHEAPLY, frugally!), we've got some of the best help, tips and recipes that won't break your budget. We'll even show you what you can make for people for less than a buck a person, or 5 ingredients or less. I personally have a few recipes that aren't exactly frugal, but it's a heck of a lot better than going to the restaurant. One of my recipes can feed 6-8 people for $12.00, a full meal. Interested in saving time? We simply cannot forget the OAMC section. This section will teach you how to cook all your meals, once a month and store them, so that you have more time to spend with your family.
We've got a great General Frugality section that covers the day to day issues of frugality, the best places to have fun without breaking your budget, free items (who doesn't like getting something free), Holiday and Celebration ideas and of course the Utilities and RRR (talked about previously). Just the freebies section alone, if you actively participate in that, will more than pay for your membership.
We've got a wonderful Family section where you can get support for issues that we, as families face day to day, dealing with a frugal lifestyle. Going from trying to conceive to pregnancy, to our growing families, to blended (step) and large families (Trust me, we have those too!), to stay at home parents and homeschooling, to dealing with what diaper's the best for you and for the environment. On FM's and now FFF, I can think of at least 25 people that were working, that have learned how to be frugal and reduce their budgets that they could actually afford to go back down to a single income. If you're looking to do that, then you've come to the right place.
I know that I've made reference several times to FrugalMoms and FM's. A lot of the ideas and principles that we're using here are from FM's, I'll admit that. HOWEVER, this site stands on it's own merit, the members do feel comfortable here, and the ones that don't, I will personally contact to work with them to find out what can be done so that they DO feel comfortable. Trust me, our members do reach out to one another for just about anything and everything, and I think that's what sets a paid site ahead from a free site.
We've got a section that things just don't belong anywhere else. Home and Automotive repairs? We'll teach you how to do that, or fix it yourself. Homemade laundry detergent or soap? Trust me, you wouldn't be complete without a MIY (Make It Yourself) FM Laundry Detergent or Soap. That alone would be worth the price of your membership. Got questions about anything entertainment related? Post it in the Entertainment forum and I can guarantee it'll be answered ASAP. If you've got family in the services right now, we've got a very active military family support section.
There's more than a few of our members that rely on this site to keep them on the path of frugality. There's also a great kinship feeling here, especially for those that have husbands (or wives or children) that are currently away from the home. These wonderful members draw on the strength of their fellow brother and sister frugalites to get them through the periods of lonliness.
Couple that with being able to visit other member's journeys with our Gallery section, a Daily To Do List that's accessible for you anywhere on the internet, personal daily journals/diaries that you can share with others or keep private, the ability to write your own editorial or story, chat with others, and yes, even win prizes (I've given away cash prizes, membership extensions and more). Sometime this month, we'll even be sending out a static cling window decal as my way of saying thank you for being a member. ALL of this is part of your membership.
Because it's a paid membership site, you're quite a bit more secure in posting your family photos and other various goodies (recipes, posts, articles, etc). We do cover everything under our copywrite notice, but it's for your protection and benefit. We've also got partner sites that we work together with to ensure that your information doesn't get transmitted to another site without your permission and/or consent.
Oh, not to mention that so many people believe in this that they're actually sponsoring other members out of the kindness of their hearts. Without getting into specific numbers (we really do value everyone's privacy here), there's over 10 people being sponsored by other members. Oh, and did I mention the friendships that you make here will last a lifetime? You cannot put a price on friendship.
Because FrugalMoms was closing, my only goal was to keep these wonderful ladies together and keep them close, so that they can keep in touch with each other and still stay true to their frugal lifestyles. Nothing more, nothing less.
Let's see what you'd have to give up for $12.50 (Compliments of Kim Tilley, the owner of FrugalMoms as well as several other people):
a Pizza night with soda ($17.99 + tip)
Skip one Mocha a month ($3.00, per Mocha, $36.00 a year)
A night at the Movies for two ($17 plus drinks, snacks)
A refill on gasoline for your auto.
6-8 movie rentals ($18-$24)
A night out at a moderate restaurant ($30 or more)
An Oil and Lube job for your car (We can even teach you how to do that yourself).
You could easily go out and purchase books on frugality, but that'd run you well over $12.50. Granted, it's a great way to have a printed resource, but with this kind of a site, you get immediate feedback, and even get to ask the "authors" questions for clarification. You won't get that from any book, even an eBook.
I could go on, but you get my general drift. Now, before you ask again about the paid membership fees, read what I said above. The membership fees helps pay for the server, licenses that I've had to obtain, the thank you gifts (if you want it) and eventually, the administrator. $12.50 for one full year of membership comes out to less than 7 cents a day. That's pretty cheap for all of the perks above, don't you think?
I hope you do at least reconsider your decision. I am going to post your question (but not identify you, I promise) and my response on the forums. I'm sure there's a few other things that I've missed. Oh, and like I said above, more and more sites are starting to turn into a paid membership community. You're welcome to check them out, if you'd like.
Frugal-Families.com (was free, rolling into Paid community 3-1)
More Than Moms
Moms Who Think
The Moms Connection
Thank you for taking the time to read this long email. I hope that this does change your view on why I've had to charge memberships from the get-go. Wasn't an easy decision, but it was the best one for me. Hopefully we'll see you on FFF!