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My Two Cents: Nothing wrong with frugality

My friends say I'm cheap. I prefer frugal. There is a major difference. To me, being cheap means that you don't want to spend any money. That isn't me.

My name is Jessica (Bruns) Keddy. I think I am a smart consumer who chooses to spend money wisely.

Why spend more money than we have to? I grew up in the country outside of Wadena, went to college in Moorhead, married a Canadian, moved to Chicagoland, had two sets of twins and finally moved back to the area after my mom died from cancer.

Things have come full circle. I feel like the song "I've Been Everywhere" by Johnny Cash sums up my life so far.

I was first introduced to hardcore couponing/saving while living in Fargo in 1997. The family that lived in the apartment above mine needed a babysitter, and my roommate and I, being poor college students, needed food. We worked out a deal that I'd help Lisa with her kids and she would pay us with food and toilet paper.

She showed me the ropes of how to shop. I mean REALLY shop, without paying full price for almost anything. Between classes, I'd help her clip coupons, scour the grocery and drug store ads, make lists and finally, hit the stores with her babies in tow. She taught me about double coupon days that various stores offered, how to match coupons up to sale items and how to find and submit rebates.

I was hooked. After meeting Lisa, I had a hard time paying full price for ANYTHING.

I have big dreams for retirement, and we are going to need a lot of cash! It's a game, kind of like a puzzle. I don't shop like "normal" people. I don't buy things right when I need them. I wait for a sale, and hopefully have a coupon to match up with the sale price to save even more.

When we lived in Illinois, I had a room in our basement called "The Store." Friends and family would make jokes about it, but stopped laughing when I would send them home with bags or boxes full of toiletries that I had gotten for little or no money.

Since we moved back to Minnesota, I've been working on the logistics for a store room in our new home, and family members hope that we will be open for business soon!

The purpose of this column is to pass along tips and tricks that I've learned along my journey. I am hopeful that readers will write in and share what they have learned as well.

I think it would be cool to have this column be really interactive. Some of the things that I plan to write about saving money on are groceries, dining out, entertainment, clothing, household items, car care, kids' needs, health care, cooking, gardening, travel and much more!