ThriftyFun has seen many changes throughout the years to get where it is today. This page gives a brief history of ThriftyFun and includes screen shots of how the site has evolved over the years.
It all started when we create the site Coupon Central in late 1997. The goal of this site was to provide a forum where local businesses could advertise by posting coupons that consumers could download. We hoped to promote local businesses and give them an easy way to establish an Internet presence.
Unfortunately, in 1997, the Internet was just starting to break through to the mainstream. We underestimated how difficult it would be to convince local business to try this new advertising medium and ultimately the endeavor was unsuccessful. Coupon Central began its life at couponcentral.net and eventually was moved to couponcentral.com.
To help promote Coupon Central, we started publishing a weekly newsletter "The Coupon Clipper". The newsletter included thrifty tips and that were sent in by readers. It quickly grew in popularity and became more popular than Coupon Central.
Additional newsletters were added. The "Daily Thrifty Tip" was started in 1998 and provided one money saving tip every day as well as feedback and elaboration of prior tips. Near the end of the year, a "Reader's Request" newsletter was created which concentrated solely on reader's questions and answers.
Thrifty Fun itself was created in 1999 as the new home for the popular newsletters. We chose the name to highlight the two most important aspects of the newsletters. Our readers seem to genuinely enjoy being thrifty, saving money, and sharing their wisdom with others!
This new interactive site provided the same content as the newsletters, but made it easier than ever for readers to ask questions and to contribute their own ideas online. This is how the site looked in 1999.
Several complete redesigns later, the new ThriftyFun.com was ready to usher in a new chapter of money saving tips and ideas. The new site was hosted on a faster server and had many new features which made the site easier to use. However, you can see that the site was still largely devoted to storing the archives of our newsletters.
In 2002, we added a complete index. This helped our search engine indexing allowing Thrifty Fun to show up in Google and other major search engines. Now, the collected wisdom of our readers was being shared with a much larger audience.
In early 2003, all of our newsletters were condensed into a weekly "Thrifty Fun Newsletter". This newsletter rounded up the latest tips and ideas from the Web site and was a great way to stay in touch with what was happening in the Thrifty Fun community.
The site was made more interactive by allowing users with accounts to post feedback which was immediately available to other users of the site. Up until this time, all feedback was sent in by email and posted by us.
In 2003, we stopped development of Coupon Central. The site still exists but is now a link to an affiliated site. Coupon Central did not turn into the tool for promoting local businesses we had imagined, but if it were not for Coupon Central then we would never have started the money saving newsletters that eventually became Thrifty Fun.
In April 2004, we restarted the Daily Thrifty Tips. It grew quickly and once again provided new tips for thrifty living each weekday. And then in December, we allowed posting of pictures in the feedback. This allowed our feedback to have more information, showing solutions, craft projects or pet pictures.
Our seemingly never-ending redesigns of the site continued in 2005. In addition to tweaking the category navigation again, the new site allowed for submitted tips, recipes, photos, and contest entries to be approved much faster. This new version of the site also allowed for internal messages between registered members.
In 2006, we added a blog site My Frugal Life which allowed our members to post their own blogs about frugal living.
We also worked on a thumbnail system so that entries with photos could be easily identified. This also gave the site a more colorful look.
Throughout the year, we did a lot of back-end work on the site. We dramatically improved the speed of many pages and cleared up a number of bottle necks that were causing slowdowns for everyone.
Thrifty Fun has grown from a labor of love of two people to a thriving family enterprise. Today, the site employs seven people and several columnists who contribute regularly. Everyone works together to help ensure that the site is updated as quickly as possible, but without sacrificing the friendly spirit and can-do attitude that has made Thrifty Fun so popular.
A new database server was installed in January, 2008. The new database server is about four times as fast as the one we were using in just 2007. The site now runs on a cluster of three Apple Macintosh XServes using Apache and MySQL. The site is written using a programming language called Lasso from LassoSoft, a company owned by one of our founders.
When did you find ThriftyFun?