By Judy Steffes Special to Published Jul 29, 2008 at 7:44 AM

Hi, my name is Judy Steffes and I'm conservative.

My friends will laugh. Thrifty, tight, deep pockets and short arms. I've heard them all, but relish the challenge.

With the economy headed south I'm finally starting to feel some of the effects. Gas is more, and so are my food and electric bills, even though I'm not buying or using more than normal -- my normal.

I'm a "flip off the switch when I leave the room," put on a sweater and leave the thermostat at 45 degrees, change my own car oil and rotate the tires, pay off my credit card bill each month, pick up pennies in the street, shop at Goodwill, recycle aluminum, and shop around to lower my insurance policies kind of person.

I have been wondering how it would be possible to be even more conservative.

My friends are stumped, although one has suggested going from three squares to two and running around in the rain to save on showers.

Funny? Not so much...but I'm taking inventory.

My Internet doesn't cost anything because I use NetZero. I don't have TV or cable. If I need video entertainment I go to the public library for magazines, newspapers, CDs and DVDs and I'm hooked on which has all the latest shows, minus commercials.

I bike just about everywhere. LED lights on power strips or the microwave drive me nuts so I unplug the tool and plug it back in when needed. I've downsized my family refrigerator to one used in a college dorm. (I donated my former fridge to a community group.)

I don't have a cell phone, only a local land line. I have a calling card for long distance that's a penny a minute.

My vices are coffee and letting my ceiling fan run at night. I know, I'm living the high life.

Some new things I'm thinking of trying include shopping at Aldi's, stop buying sparkling water and buy 35-cent gallon jugs to refill at the grocery, biking or motorcycling to work, stopping the morning coffee habit at McDonald's, cleaning the basement and closets and selling items on Craigslist, paying my bills online, planting a garden and asking for my nickel back when I bring my own bag to Pick n' Save.

Actually I'm very low maintenance and proud of it.


Judy Steffes Special to

Judy is a Milwaukee native who is ever exploring the country. Her favorite mode of travel is her 21-speed, blue Centurion bicycle, which she bought after high school. Judy has worked in the local media for the past 20 years. "I need to do something to support my biking habit."

Judy has an extensive history in radio news, having worked at WISN, WUWM, WTMJ, WKTY in La Crosse and WBKV in West Bend. A strong interest in sports also had Judy reporting for ESPN Radio covering the Packers, Buck, Brewers and Badgers. "One of my first Brewer games at County Stadium the security guy yelled as I walked into the locker room ‘LADY IN THE LOCKER ROOM.’ Now it’s so commonplace. But that story makes me sound really old."

Judy is currently working at WISN-TV in Milwaukee. She is a freelance writer and her pieces have been seen in The Small Business Times and The Business Journal. Her travel journal has appeared in Minnesota Trails Magazine, The Statesman and the West Bend Daily News, to name a few.

Aside from biking, running and being active in her community, Judy is known as someone who is "very, very thrifty." "I get candles for Christmas. My friends call them my space heaters because I normally keep the heat in my house at 40 degrees during the winter. It’s not that I can’t afford to turn up the thermostat, I just hate paying for heat."

Judy said her "conservative attitude" plays a part in her bike tours ... not needing to pay for gas and frequently spending nights camping inside churches. "First of all, it makes me feel safe since I’m traveling alone and second all you’re doing is sleeping, so why pay for that. It’s no wonder I can’t ever get someone to travel with me."

Judy grew up in Whitefish Bay and graduated from Dominican High School and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Judy is the second oldest among seven siblings and spends a lot of her time working as a "park tester" along with her eight nieces and nephews.