I love my wife. Claudia has many more attributes I admire than those I don’t. She’s smart, spirited, kind, and we share many of the same interests. As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, she’s also my editor. However, there is one quality of hers that I find extreme. She is possibly the most frugal person I’ve ever known. We’re not talking driving-a-Civic frugal. We’re talking taking-the-bus-to-work frugal. But this is just where her thriftiness begins.
Claudia freezes everything. As soon as any food approaches the end of its natural life, she rushes it into the freezer. I don’t dare throw any of it away. We have a loaf of bread in there that dates back to the Bush presidency--and that’s 41, not 43. I haven’t had a sandwich in years where the bread hasn’t passed through a toaster or microwave. My taste buds have forgotten what fresh bread tastes like.
I can understand not wanting to waste food, but Claudia even buys food that’s near the end of its edible life. She hunts for these bargains. She has a sixth sense for knowing when the Walmart deli is about to mark down their cheesecakes. These aging delicacies have the remaining life expectancy of a mayfly, but she can’t resist the 50% discount. She’s been known to circle the rotisserie chicken display at Harris Teeter in the early evening, waiting for the BOGO sign to be posted. She’s often the final person between those fryer hens and the dumpster. “This food hasn’t killed you yet,” she reminds me--the key word being yet.
And don’t get me started on her affinity for generic brands.
It’s the same M.O. with clothes. She’s a size four. Most women would love to go shopping and try on clothing if they had her figure. Instead, Claudia gravitates to the discount racks where most of the “drastically reduced” offerings are size 12 and above. She’ll sort through each rack twice before giving up. It frustrates her to pay retail for clothes, even when they make her look like a million bucks.
Claudia is also the queen of senior discounts. I’ve yet to get my first senior cup of McDonald’s coffee. I hate confessing that I’m old, or worse, having the clerk assume I exceed their age criteria. Claudia, on the other hand, doesn’t hesitate to proudly announce to everyone in line that she qualifies. After all, fifty cents is fifty cents.
It’s not that we’re poor. We both had long careers and saved responsibly, or in Claudia’s case, fanatically. But regardless of our financial stability, it seems that once frugal, always frugal. I doubt she’ll ever change.
I should consider myself lucky. Many people have the opposite problem. Their spouses spend money like there’s no tomorrow. My only concern is that as I approach the end of my allotted time on earth, she’ll stuff me into the freezer.