Are you a fan of the website Houston On The Cheap? If you're not familiar, you should get to know it. It can save you money and it's full of ideas for things to do around Houston that are either free or cheap. Vicki Powers is the gal behind this popular blog. We wanted to know where she got her inspiration for the website and how she finds out about so many great deals.
GalTime Houston: What's the mission of Houston On The Cheap?
Vicki Powers: My hope is to help folks in Houston discover ways to live in a big city without spending the big bucks. Houston boasts several venues that are always free such as Discovery Green downtown park, Miller Outdoor Theater, and Contemporary Arts Museum. “Free Weekend Fun” is just one topic I share each week of all things free the upcoming weekend.
GalTime Houston: What prompted you to start your own website?
Vicki Powers: I’m a journalist by trade, and my freelance writing work was drying up in 2008 with the down economy. I took an online blog class in January 2009 with “Houston on the Cheap” as my class project. A writer friend in Atlanta had just started Atlanta on the Cheap and encouraged others to start their own city to be a part of her network – Cities on the Cheap. I had no expectations with the site. I just wanted to learn what blogging was all about. I never dreamed I would move on from freelance writing to make blogging my full-time job.
GalTime Houston: Tell us about yourself.
Vicki Powers: I grew up in Austin and moved to Houston two weeks after my UT graduation with a journalism degree and a brand-new job in corporate communications. I met my husband at a Houston Lutheran church, and we’ll be celebrating 20 years of marriage this fall! I started freelance writing with my two young daughters at home in 2003. I wrote for a variety of national magazines (Entrepreneur, Business 2.0, Hemispheres, Direct Marketing News, and Hospitality Technology) and organizations such as Cisco Systems, Duke University, and Microsoft.
GalTime Houston: Tell us about the feedback you receive from your readers?
Vicki Powers: The comments I receive from readers has kept me going on days when I didn’t want to blog or didn’t think people even cared about it. When a single mom shares how my site was a life saver to keep her kids entertained all summer – or the elderly person who was able to get a free eye exam and eyeglasses for the first time thanks to my site – it just makes me feel like I’m really making a difference. People write how they look forward to my daily email as a “fun surprise in their inbox”– it’s just crazy!
GalTime Houston: How and where can Houston Gals find the best deals around town?
Vicki Powers: The plethora of daily deal sites has made it easy to relax, dine and be entertained at half the price. Several of the sites are actually located in Houston, which is so nice to support local. My husband and I will have “daily-deal site” date nights planning our activities around our deal vouchers – dinner, movie, or other events. That’s why I started compiling a list every day of all the daily deals (some lists will be longer than others depending on my schedule!) It can certainly take over your inbox to subscribe to all the sites, so just head to Houston on the Cheap!
GalTime Houston: What secrets about saving money have you learned since running On The Cheap?
Vicki Powers: Planning ahead really pays off for many Houston events. Advance tickets can often be purchased online for festivals and other annual local events to save some money. And the simple things really pay off. Something like a family of four ordering water at their weekly out-to-eat meal saves about $10 a week – or more than $500 for a year.
GalTime Houston: What's one thing you're always willing to splurge on?
Vicki Powers: I can’t resist my ice cream!
Vicki tells us that her next big thing would be to transition her knowledge to a book. She says she'd love to write a book. Until then, you'll have to keep tabs on her through Houston On The Cheap. You can also find Vicki's ideas right here on GalTime Houston. From time-to-time, Vicki will share some money saving ideas with us.
Houston gals - what are some ways that you save money? How do you find deals around town? Leave a comment below.