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Adventures in Penny-Pinching: Life with My Frugal Wife

I recently got remarried, and at 59 years old, it’s been quite a life experience. Even though Montez and I are very similar in our thinking, beliefs, lifestyle, and love for each other, there are a few differences that make our marriage interesting. One of those differences is her gratification from being very frugal. I’ll share a story with you that will explain.

When we first met, I discovered that Montez loves to cook, and she’s actually very good at it too. On one of our first dates, she wanted to cook a big dinner for me at my house, but she said we needed to go to the grocery store to get some things first.

While at the grocery store, she mentioned noticing that I didn’t have a cheese grater at the house. As it turned out, when she said this, we just happened to be in the aisle with all the kitchenware items. So I grabbed a cheese grater off the shelf and said, “Here’s one right here.” She gave me a sour look and said, “We’re not buying a cheese grater at the grocery store! I can get it much cheaper at Walmart.” I flipped it over to look at the price, and it was only $23.00. I said, “Walmart? But that means we have to stop at two different stores.” From the look on her face, I could tell this was not up for negotiation.

As it turns out, she was right. The cheese grater was cheaper at Walmart. She saved me $8.00, and it was actually a fancier cheese grater too. So began my journey with Montez and her frugality.

My friends all tell me, “This one’s a keeper! She’ll save you money.” Yes, of course, I appreciate saving money, but it’s really more of a fascination for me. I’ve never driven to two different stores just to save money, and the way she uses coupons is insane!

Full confession: I’d never been to a Dollar General before meeting Montez, but on our very first Saturday together back in May 2023, she took me to a Dollar General and introduced me to the wonderful world of extreme couponing. As I walked through the store pushing the cart for her, she kept checking her phone and throwing items into the cart—laundry detergent, toothpaste, scented beads, and various cleaning supplies.

At one point, I smiled at her. She looked at me puzzled and said, “What?” I smiled again and said, “Nothing, I was just thinking how much I love being here with you today, shopping at Dollar General, and it’s a little weird that I’m enjoying this so much.” At that point, we were at the register, so I started unloading the cart. The lady at the register was ringing everything up, and I was watching the screen as the total came out to be $31.45. At this point, I noticed Montez punch her phone number into a little device on the counter, and the register screen rolled down to the bottom to show a new total. The employee behind the counter said, “That will be $9.42.”

Montez turned and grinned at me. I’m sure I had a stunned look on my face as I said, “What did you just do?” I thought maybe she waved some magic wand over the register, but all she said was, “I’ll tell you in the car.”

One year later, we are now married and I just accept the fact that it’s a game for her. She walks through a store, finds an item she likes, looks at the price tag, and then searches for that item on Amazon to see if she can get it cheaper. She has several apps on her phone like “Ibotta” that give her cash back on her purchases and Gas Buddy that finds the cheapest gas in a 5 mile radius. She follows a few people on Instagram that are extreme couponers to see what deals she can get at Dollar General, Walgreens, and CVS.

Every now and then, I have to put my foot down and say, “We’re buying this here, right now, even though it’s 45¢ more. I don’t have time to run to Walmart today”. Her lips say, “OK” but her eyes say she’s dying inside.

We now have a big shelf in the garage (actually it’s 4 shelves) to store all her bargain finds. She has tons of toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies and a huge box of toothpaste that would take us a full year to go through. She tells me, “No one should ever pay for toothpaste when I can get it for free.” She’s not wrong about that and I’ve even suggested she start teaching people how to do this. I’m sure there are thousands of people out there like me that don’t know how to be frugal like this. I joke with her that it’s a lot of work to save this much money!

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