Sunday free-for-all – September 7, 2014

OliveLucyIt’s the weekend free-for-all.

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly non-work only; if you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Have at it.

{ 928 comments… read them below }

  1. Is This Legal*

    What’s the easier way to transfer money online for free?
    I used to have Bank of America (BOA), which most of my friends also had and it was easier and instant.
    I just started using PayPal but I don’t like the idea of linking my bank account to get free transfer.
    Which ever method you use, how long does it take for the other person to receive money? BOA to BOA was instant

    1. Anon*

      I have an account with wellsfargo; they also do instant via mobile app or next day via online banking or mobile app.

    2. Stephanie*

      Re: PayPal

      My friend really likes Venmo. I can’t think of any online service that doesn’t have a nominal fee.

      I had to pay a former landlord via wire transfer (he covered the wire fee). He also wanted everyone’s rent pooled, so I’d have like $4500 (yay DC housing prices) I’d have to wire him (my bank had the lowest wiring fees) internationally. Now that was a headache. Don’t do that.

    3. Gene*

      I’ve been using PayPal for close to twenty years with no problem. One year I probably churned $10,000 through them. I was selling racing harnesses for a particular car that weren’t available anywhere else.

      If you do anything online that concerns money, I would consider PayPal as safe as, and likely safer than, almost any other place.

      Transfers to and from my account typically take about 24 hours.

      1. C Average*

        I first read this as “racing harnesses for a particular cat.” I wish I had the skills to convey the visual that came with to me as I read that sentence!

        But seriously, I’ve gotta second PayPal. I’ve used it for over a decade with no problems whatsoever. As one of the oldest and mostly widely used such services, they’re likely to have good security measures in place. Nothing’s guaranteed, of course, but they have a solid track record. I’ve found using PayPal to be utterly hassle-free, too.

    4. Josh S*

      I use Google Wallet. Sending money to friends is free; so is receiving money.

      I think there’s a fee when you add money to the account, but I typically just leave a slush amount in there, and it passes around from person to person.

      Instant transfer, can use NFC for phone-to-phone transfer, or just type in their email.

      1. Audiophile*

        +1 for Google Wallet. I regularly put money in it from my bank account and have transferred money from to my account, all for without a fee. There’s a fee if you want to send money using a credit or debit card.

        +1 for Paypal as well. I’ve had people send me money, as well as sending money to people.

    5. Al Lo*

      Related question:

      Best cross-border online money transfer? I currently live in Canada, but my student loans are in the U.S., so I send myself money each month.

      I used to use Paypal, but that was a pain (two accounts; one linked to my U.S. bank account with a separate email address; longer processing times; higher fees). Right now, I use’s trade feature, which is pretty good — a lot faster, fairly reasonable exchange rate, no additional fee.

      But, always on the lookout for something that can do a better job for me. Anyone have any other suggestions?

      1. Lab Rat*

        I don’t know who you bank with but I have a TD account in both countries (TD Canada Trust in Canada and TD Bank in US which is mostly limited to the east coast) and I have my accounts linked so I can easily transfer money between the two for free. I don’t know how their exchange rates compare to others but they seem okay and I don’t need to transfer money too frequently.

      2. duschamp*

        I am in the same boat (UK to US), and have recently discovered TransferWise. I use their app & it has proven remarkably easy, cheap and reliable. You are given the exchange rate up front and there are no additional fees. It isn’t instantaneous, but when you make the transfer you are notified to the hour of when it will be in the recipient account (i.e. by 3pm on Wednesday) it’s roughly 2-3 working days. So far, the transfers have always been early – 6 to 24 hours early.

      3. Judy*

        Don’t most banks allow you to transfer to another bank account in your own name for free? I’ve not tried it cross border, but I have the ability at two separate banks to transfer money to another one with online or phone in, if I’ve filled out the paperwork to link the accounts and signed (and they are both in my name).

      4. Anonymous*

        We keep a Wells Fargo acct open exclusively because of its low rates for international transfers (I haven’t had great experiences with them otherwise). $5 per transaction for all originating in the US. Maybe if you linked to a US WF acct they would have similar fees to receive international transfers?

    6. azvlr*

      Chase also has a Quick-Pay feature that you send money to anyone with an email address. It’s available from their website or the mobile app. I recently heard about Venmo, but I am concerned/curious to know what might happen if the company decides to take off while your money is in it’s system.

      1. Noah*

        I’m a Chase bank customer and have used QuickPay many times. The only downside is that the other person must have a QuickPay account (doesn’t require them to have a Chase account) or be willing to set one up. According to my sister, the transfer will show up the next day.

    7. Aam Admi*

      I use PayPal for transferring funds to individuals or entities that do not have a history of relationship with me. But I am not comfortable linking my bank account to PayPal and pay with my credit card.
      Me & my son both have accounts at the same bank. I have set him him up as a payee and am able to transfer money by going through the process used for paying bills online. The transfer is immediate.
      He works in the US and used to study in Canada. He has CAD & USD accounts at the same bank and does frequent transfers.

    8. Mephyle*

      The answer depends on who, where, and how much. Are you transferring money internationally or within your country? That will make a difference. Are you transferring it to yourself, or paying someone else? Again, it makes a difference.
      And finally, different methods have a percentage fee (better for small amounts) or a fixed fee (better for large amounts).
      This probably doesn’t apply to you, but here’s a tip if you are transferring a medium-to-small amount (less than about $1000, say) from a first-world country to a third-world-country: look for services aimed at local workers who are sending remittance payments to their families back in the home country. If the market is fairly large, it is competitive and you are likely to find services that transfer money at rates much cheaper than regular bank transfers.

  2. Ali*

    About to go to bed soon since I started my new work schedule this week and am trying to get more sleep.

    But good news! I’m almost done with the dentist for six months! I went the other day for my cleaning, and aside from the scraping part which felt like something torturous, it wasn’t really that bad at all. I need one more appointment to have an old filling fixed and another cavity filled and then that’s it until my next cleaning.

    Unfortunately, I do still need my wisdom teeth out and I found out my health insurance doesn’t cover that. :( I don’t know what I’m going to do but I have a consult with the oral surgeon on Tuesday to see what’s what. I hope my dental insurance can pick up some of it or I’ll be stuck with a huge bill.

    Oh well, though. I am trying not to think about it and instead prop myself up for getting over my dental fears and I am much happier with my teeth to boot.

    1. Stephanie*

      If you’re near a dental school, that’s an option for cheaper dental work. I’m surprised your dental insurance won’t cover it–did you hit your maximum already? (My dental insurance limit was pretty low, like $1500, so it wasn’t hard to hit the maximum.)

      1. Ali*

        Sorry…meant my medical doesn’t cover it. I already called the insurance company to be sure since one tooth is impacted and they said it doesn’t fall under their coverage. I have to see if my dental will pay anything toward it.

      2. Lamington*

        Seconding Stephanie’s advise to visit a dental school. My sister is studying to be a dentist and they accept cases like yours. Even braces are cheaper. You can even get sedated there.

    2. nep*

      Congratulations. Good for you for overcoming that apprehension and getting things rolling. Must be a huge relief for you.

    3. Hummingbird*

      Double-check your insurance again. If you have impacted wisdom teeth, that is sometimes considered medical rather than dental. That’s what happened with one of mine.

      1. Rebecca*

        This was the case with me. Normal wisdom tooth extraction wasn’t covered, but mine were impacted, so it was considered surgery, and the insurance company covered part of the bill and I had to pay a copay.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Good for you!
      Mine weren’t as bad as I had thought after several years with no dental visits. All I had to get were two fillings (one old one replaced). But I had to have periodontal therapy (dear God the SCRAPING). Which reminds me–I need to get a new electric toothbrush. I forgot to when I was out running around yesterday.

      1. Ali*

        I need to get one too. My dentist had brochures for the Sonicare all over her office, but I didn’t purchase it there. Next paycheck this week, though, I will.

        The scraping feeling haunted me for a day or two after my cleaning, especially since my gums were tender afterward, but I think I’m finally putting it in the past.

  3. Stephanie*

    Are you ready for some football? (I’m not.) I feel like the TV in the house has been on football or some sort of football-related programming since Thursday.

    1. Fruitfly*

      I am not a football fan. I have never understand that sport. That might be shocking to some people, but I just don’t enthusiastic about football.

        1. Stephanie*

          I should clarify–American football. But I haven’t been able to get into the other football, either. It is a tad sacrilegious to grow up in Texas and not be into football (Friday Night Lights is sort of a documentary, really). Being in high school band, I had to go to every game in high school and was just bored (my high school team was also bad, so that didn’t help things) until we had to go warmup and perform at halftime.

      1. en pointe*

        I do not understand American football at all. There are so many stoppages, it takes like three hours to play a game. In Australia, we just stick a bunch of players on the field and get on with it. I’m a rugby league fan, but my boyfriend plays Aussie Rules. Their finals are on, so our conversations are battle of the football codes at the moment.

        I do love watching your Superbowl though, for the atmosphere, if nothing else. A sporting event doesn’t get much better than that.

        1. Dan*

          Every major professional American sport (the big four — NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL) all take about three hours to play, so criticizing American football on its own for the length of play isn’t all that fair. They could change the duration of the game if they wanted to. After all, MLB has 9 innings and NHL has 3 periods. Only NBA and NFL have four quarters.

          Those sports have become so interwoven with TV and commercial breaks so much so that other sports that don’t have natural stoppages have a hard time getting on American TV.

          1. en pointe*

            Ha, extend my criticism to all those American sports then! I love footy, but I wouldn’t sit around for three hours. I got shit to do.

          2. en pointe*

            Speaking of the NBA, did anybody see the video this week of the USA basketball team seeing the Haka for the first time? It’s a great watch. Countries that play New Zealand in rugby union and rugby league see it all the time, so we’re used to it, but the American’s faces were gold.

              1. en pointe*

                I loved the ending. They were like ‘wait, do we clap?’ No, you don’t clap. It’s a fucking warrior dance – they’re saying they want to crush you.

                I’m actually struggling to think of any former colonial nation that displays aspects of their indigenous culture on a national, (and in this case, international) level, and as national symbols, the way that NZ does. It’s an important thing.

          3. Anonymous*

            Yeah, but of those three hours, only one is actual play time. Four 15-minute quarters. Most of the remaining two-plus hours is either commercials or fat guys jostling around. I am not a fan of football; can you tell? I also do not like baseball and think it drags on far too long. At least with basketball and hockey, there seems to be more time in plan and less time standing around.

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          Aussie rules is a great game and I loved going to the games when I lived in Austraila. I never got in to rugby league, coming from the south of England rugby Union is the only type of rugby played.

          The tactics in American football make it the closest thing in sport to chess, it’s an interesting game but I’ve never watched enough to understand it all.

          1. en pointe*

            Ha, touche!

            I do love catching up on the cricket, but my watching is, admittedly, limited to highlights. Not because I don’t understand the rules, but because it, like gridiron, takes all bloody day.

        3. Noah*

          I’m American, and that’s my big complaint too. Football just drags on and on, stopping constantly. I do enjoy hockey, because the game seems to actually move, even though as Dan pointed out they are about the same length in reality. I also enjoy going to a baseball game, but they are incredibly boring to watch on tv. My dad and sister are huge football fans though, so the tv is always switched on to it at family holidays.

      2. Vicki*

        There are so many of us that many years ago I read an article that included an acronym for us: IRDCAF (I Really Don’t Care ABout Football).

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      I *am* ready for some football! Die-hard Denver Broncos fan here. We have (mostly) put the horror of the Super Bowl behind us and are ready for another season. I think that game was cursed from the first snap. I really hope Petyon Manning can get one more Super Bowl ring before he hangs it up.

      1. Stephanie*

        That was painful even by Super Bowl standards (it usually seems like it’s a low-scoring, defensive-heavy game, but watching a trouncing for three+ hours got old fast). However, I was rooting for the Seahawks (because I thought they had the cooler uniforms). Yup, I’m that friend you invite to the party who just snacks (I do bring very good snacks and beer) and tunes in during the commercials.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          That game was classic Broncos though, as awful as it was. When they are good, they are flawless. And when they are bad, it is just painful and appalling to watch.

          I work for a subsidiary of a Very Large Company based in Seattle (bet you can guess which one), so there was some friendly competition between the 2 companies. I have to hand it to them though — they painted a plane with the Seahawks logo, and had it fly in a huge number 12 (for the 12th man) over eastern Washington state. Pretty awesome.

      2. Too early*

        Colts fan living in Denver… I grew up in Indianapolis, so I have a valid reason. I will still cheer for the Broncos, as long as they aren’t playing the Colts. Scared to leave my house tomorrow!

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          My husband went to the Broncos season opener last year, and the guy sitting beside him was wearing a Ravens jersey — this after the Ravens beat the Broncos is the playoffs the year before. The season opener was a rematch. My husband told him, “Wow, it takes balls to show up in *this* stadium wearing *that* jersey!” He said the guy was pretty cool, he’d been in San Francisco on business the week before, and was able to get tickets to the game, so he stopped in Denver on his way home. The Broncos spanked the Ravens, and at about halftime, my husband was yanking the guy’s chain a little bit: “Can you feel it starting to slip away?” And the guy had to admit my husband was right. They had a good time razzing each other during the game.

      3. De Minimis*

        I love college football, but have always been only a casual follower of the NFL. Generally don’t pay attention to it till the postseason.

        I’ve attended so many colleges that I have at least 3 teams to follow.

      4. SBL*

        We actually attended that Superbowl as it was being held in our state. Poor Denver. The Seahawks fans were definitely louder!

        1. Anonymous*

          That’s what happens when you really really want it. The Seahawks needed that win! Just time to repeat it :-)

    3. Kalliope's Mom*

      My husband and I made a compromise about football, he can have the tv in the living room while I get the tv in the bedroom with netflix. Both of us are happy and I get to spend quality time with Kalliope watching older Disney movies. She usually goes back and forth between the two rooms and will wear a State shirt (looks adorable!)

    4. Dan*

      Yes, but I don’t have cable or dish, and I hate the skins, so there’s not much to do except catch some stuff online.

      I found out that DirecTV is now selling the Sunday Ticket as an online streaming option; I would buy it, but this year it’s limited to NYC and SF, which kinda pisses me off. I’m not getting two years of DirecTV just to pay for Sunday Ticket on top of it.

      I joined a fantasy league for the first time in forever, and with the exception of a few star quarterbacks, I realized I had no idea who anybody else was. Crap.

      1. Stephanie*

        Admittedly I was a transplant, but I never figured out the appeal of the Redskins the 3+ years I lived in DC. The team was never very good when I was there, the owner is a jackass, the stadium is horrible, the colors are fugly, the mascot is racist…is there something appealing I’m missing? My alma mater’s football team wasn’t great when I was there (but they’ve gotten a lot better since I’ve graduated). However, back when Kennedy was in office (yeah…) they could go toe-to-toe with Big State U’s football team. So you’d meet an alum from the class of ’64 and all he could talk about was Alma Mater Football. Did the Redskins just have some long-lost glory days like that?

        (Not entirely clueless about football. I understand the game and know some info…I just never found it very interesting to watch.)

        1. Dan*

          Snyder was a client of mine at a previous job, so I can vouch for the jackass part.

          The skins had some glory days way back yonder (google the ‘first’ Joe Gibbs) but its been so long and this town is so transient that I’m a bit surprised there’s enough folks to hold on to that.

      2. The IT Manager*

        I cannot begin to describe how annoyed I am that DirectTV has a monopoly on Sunday ticket. Very, very unfair. I am very happy with my Verizon FIOS which provides my internet too, and I do not want satellite which can be disrupted by weather. I would be willing to get my team on my TV every week, but I don’t want to get DirectTV to do it. As far as I am concerned it is an unfair monopoly.

    5. evilintraining*

      Yes!!! Lifelong Pittsburgher and diehard Steelers fan!!! I hope my boys have a much better year. I still say Todd needs to pack his bags; the offensive line has looked like crap under him. But seriously, I just want to see some football, period!

      1. Stephanie*

        My friend is a Pittsburgher and diehard Steelers fan. The one year the Cardinals made the Super Bowl, the Steelers were the opponent. She hosted a party. I had no real stake in the game, but wore scarlet and white just to see her reaction. I believe if I hadn’t brought snickerdoodles, she might have kicked me out. IIRC, it was a close game. One of her friends (also from Pittsburgh) was praying and muttering at one point. And then the Steelers won and someone pulled up “Here We Go” and there was singing and dancing. It was fascinating to watch. I met one of my best friends at that party–we both had no interest in the game and struck up a good conversation.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        I’m also a Steelers fan. I was born in Pittsburgh so I’ve always liked them. I always root for them unless they’re playing the Broncos.

    6. Rebecca*

      This is the one thing I miss about not having cable TV. I dropped cable 2 years ago, and I sorely miss college football. Sometimes I watch a game at my parent’s house.

      1. De Minimis*

        Yeah I’m in the same boat, sometimes I listen to games through an app on my phone. We might see about having cable again depending on where we live next. Not going to bother with it here.

      2. Anonylicious*

        Yes, this. I hate the idea of getting cable when I only want it for football. I usually stream a radio station from back home that carries the games, but it’s not the same.

        1. De Minimis*

          That was when I knew I needed to cut the cord, I realized that I left the TV off an entire week after the BCS Championship game.

        2. The IT Manager*

          I try to listen to a web radio broadcast of my favorite team, but I cannot stay engaged like on tv. I have trouble picturing/understanding what’s going on.

    7. GrumpyBoss*

      I was very ready, until I watched my team be systematically shut down on Thursday. Then I realized how it would be another long year of “just this close” with no accountability for anyone in the organization, from the GM to the medical staff.

      I wish it was February already. Then I’d switch my insane fandom and frustrations to the NHL.

      1. Windchime*

        Sorry about that. I think it was my local team that shut yours down.

        We are hoping for a repeat up here in the great PNW. After so many years with crappy teams (I’m looking at you, Mariners), that win in February felt pretty good.

    8. Felicia*

      i didn’t even realize it was football time . I don’t get the appeal :) Luckily as a Canadian, I’m not expected to care about it, though a lot of people here do love football. I also don’t care about hockey, which as a Canadian is basically blasphemy.

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        I’m with you Felicia. Hockey, while vaguely interesting (if it’s on tv and I can walk in and out of the room and just catch glimpses) should not be talked about 365 days of the year. Soccer is way more interesting.

    9. Anonymous*

      I’ve tried to get into football but I guess it’s just too slow for me and I don’t really understand it. I watch it once a year – Super Bowl.

      I’m just waiting for the NBA season to start.

    10. littlemoose*

      Yes! Rams fan here. I love football and feels like forever since the last season. (Of course, our quarterback’s knee is busted again, so I dunno how long my excitement for this season will last. Not a fairweather fan but worried it could be a long season.)

    11. Elizabeth West*

      You mean handegg? ;) Meh, I usually just ignore it. It’s time for the ISU Grand Prix–I’ll need to call DirecTV and re-up the Universal Sports channel. I cancelled it after the skating last year because I wasn’t watching it.

    12. MT*

      Football season is where it’s at. I can usually crank out 2-3 hours of extra work while sitting on my couch watching football.

    13. C Average*

      I don’t get football at all. Never have.

      If I’m with the right crowd (either at a game or while watching on TV), I can make appropriately enthusiastic noises when other people do and even summon genuine admiration for the insane feats of athleticism I’m witnessing. But I have no idea what the downs and penalties and other football minutia mean.

      Here is where I confess something embarrassingly shallow, but oh so true. For me, one of the great pleasures of watching professional sports is . . . how can I say this politically correctly? . . . the eye candy. It’s one of many reasons I adore watching soccer. It’s hard to get excited about football when the players are dressed in such a way that they all look the same, and they don’t look particularly human. I really enjoy being able to not just admire the players’ physiques (I’m married, not dead!), but to see on their faces the emotions related to the game: the effort, the triumph, the heartbreak, etc. All the sports I enjoy spectating (soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis) offer the spectator the chance to experience not just the action of the game, but the human drama they players are experiencing. Football just doesn’t have that component, and for that reason it’s less interesting to me.

      1. brightstar*

        If it helps, I watch soccer for the same reason! Judging from Buzz Feed, a lot of people watch soccer for the hot players.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yup, me too. I don’t even usually find crazy amounts of tattoos attractive, but something about soccer players…

    14. Lamington*

      Nope, send DH to my in-laws house so I don’t have to watch/ hear it. Anyway his brothers will be there.

    15. Mints*

      Me! I like football, and people are surprised, like all the time. My nerdy/quiet/secret punk seems to throw people off. Football is a complicated game, for sure, but that doesn’t stop nerds from playing D&D or Magic the Gathering.

      Good football fans root for the home team, always. Can I rant for a second though?

      In Northern California, we have two home teams, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. Most people are 49er fans, and it drives me nuts how biased the local sports news guys are. When they’re going to talk about “all local teams” it ends up being like 20 minutes of 49ers analysis, interviews, predictions, and like five minutes of “The Raiders lost to the Jets.” You have to actively seek out Raiders shows to get more. It’s infuriating. (I realize the 49ers have had a few good seasons recently, but they used to be much worse.)

      The Raiders are always portrayed as the villains. (They have the hardest schedule in the league this year.) We never catch a break!

  4. Diary Inquiry*

    Hi everyone,
    I have been writing a diary for seven years in order to improve on my writing and to record life events that I can reflect upon. So far neither has became a reality. For my writing improve, I will work on that by reading style guides; as for reflecting on my life, I think the problem comes from my hesitating to freely express myself.

    Sometimes I feel that it is hard to write down my exact thoughts and feelings because they can be controversial and off-putting.

    But I have always think that in order to start writing about something, it is better to write something you can connect with or that you can relate to. I dread the writing assignments that I have when I am at school, yet I can’t seem to write something that I feel might be helpful to write about. Writing your thoughts can be a good mental exercise. Plus, I like the idea that in the future either the “older me” or the later generations of my family can read about my experiences struggling, changing, and growing. But sometimes I am afraid to face my thoughts for the way they are.

    Has anyone had this trouble when they are writing a diary, journal, or memoir?

    1. Ruffingit*

      I’ve only had trouble when I think about it as something others will read and I start to censor myself. My feeling is that if you’re going to write a journal or diary, then write it freely and openly as if no one else will ever read it. Likely future generations will, but if you really want them to understand you for who you are, be honest. No need to censor just because your thoughts may be off-putting or controversial. Be who you are and let those future generations see the real you.

        1. Anonymous*

          Yikes. If worried about security of your diary [in the event of becoming famous, or for any other reason], seems to me a paper version is much better idea than electronic form. In electronic form there is always some (often small, but still nonzero) possibility of a person hacking in remotely to read it. If it is accessible only in hard copy a person has to be physically present where your diary is in order to read it.

          Thinking about this further…I guess this would depend on what you mean by electronic form and whether your device was connected to the internet or not during your updates or in between times. A memory stick that you plug into a computer without internet access I suppose would be similarly secure to a hardcopy journal.

          1. Audiophile*

            I had a ton of online journals (lj, xanga, etc) that I kept, during my angsty high school years. And as I started cleaning up, so to speak, I exported them and deleted my accounts. None of them use my real name and I’m not too worried about people finding them. I’ve never had any security issues with any of them.

    2. PuppyKat*

      Yes, at times I’ve felt the same way. Plus it’s a bit frustrating that when something incredible happens in my life, it also usually means I’m too busy to take the time to write it all down.

      But I keep plugging along. And although my writing doesn’t necessarily improve, it’s still amazing to go back and read about a day from one, two, or five years ago. At least for me, the writing is good enough to transport me back to what I was thinking and feeling at the time.

      Regarding facing your thoughts: When I’m having a hard time, sometimes I just have to force myself to write something down—as accurately as I can at that time. And I also forgive myself for those times when I can’t “go there.” Sometimes it’s good to let something sit in the background and percolate until I’ve processed it more thoroughly.

      Good luck with your writing—hope you keep it up!

    3. Waiting Patiently*

      Have you tried to start with writing out just goals? I’ve been writing in journals for years and I don’t feel my writing has gotten any better either. I found that if I start with a couple of bullet points like goals or something that really impacted me that day – I write more freely without censoring myself. It also help me organize my thoughts. And i really don’t pay attention to how I’m writing as much as what I’m writing. I’d have to say good luck to anyone who tries to read through my journal because it’s not chronologically organized nor did i intend for it to be–I had become bored of the format.
      I organize my journal in large sections, according to work, school (when I was in school–might be returning), family and relationship, life goals and/or whatever goal made my big list for the year. I sort of “check in” with each section throughout the year(s). Make notes and adjustments. I guess i have more of a goal planner. Sometimes I chart stuff and make diagrams so I can visualize stuff better. (I know it’s a bit weird but I’m a visual person). I once drew out how i wanted to design my living room, years later i had all the pieces in the exact design. I also have pages where i just date and write especially if something really impacted me that day. Needless to say my journal is very interactive.
      Anyway if you want to improve your writing, how about focusing on one topic from the day’s event and dedicating the time to really focus on writing in a few descriptive sentences and build from there.
      I would love to be able to write and express myself as eloquently as some of the memoirs I have read ( because I love reading them) but alas that’s not my style.

    4. C Average*

      I used to try to keep a journal, but it just felt like a lot of introspective drool and it honestly kind of bored me.

      I started instead to keep an observing-the-world notebook, the same way artists keep sketchbooks. I’d go sit in public places and write down descriptions of what I saw. Sometimes I’d see interesting people and speculate about their lives and thoughts. Sometimes I’d see an occurrence or catch a snippet of conversation that seemed interesting to me, and I’d use it as a launching point for more writing. It was interesting and fun and I liked it, and I felt like it did make me a better writer: I was seeing things and trying to write them in a way that would accurately convey them to someone else. I still do this kind of writing from time to time. Especially in airports! Airports are the best place for observing the world.

      If other people were to find it, they might find some of my observations strange and my tangents ridiculous, but no one would be insulted or hurt or think differently of me.

      (I still keep a really abbreviated version of a journal. On my calendar, every day gets a letter grade and, occasionally, a comment.)

    5. Diary Inquiry*

      Thank you everyone for all your comments and suggestions. I prefer to keep my diary as a hard copy because I wanted to be someone that enjoys writing in paper as much as writing online. I also wanted to avoid staring at the computer screen for too long. I’ll keep my diary in a private drawer in my room.

      I have been thinking…in order to write my off-putting thoughts down in paper I might write a side note on the page stating that I understand my thoughts may anger a lot of people but I just need to vent really badly. Or I can state I know I needed to do this action…but I just can’t do it because of my nerves/shyness/etc. This is just a mental strategy to make myself less hesitant to write my thoughts. Plus, I can look back and see how I developed emotionally over the years.

      I also think that there were many times when I just couldn’t write all the significant things that happened during the week. Sometimes when I started writing, I feel like I needed everything that happened in one day. Maybe I could start by writing just one big event for whenever it happened without including too much of what others things happen on that day, unless background info is needed.

  5. Not Telling*

    Looking for a little advice. My spouse assumes that the day an item reaches its “sell by” or “best by” date, it turns to poison and it drives me buggy! What drove me over the edge is this week she threw away an almost full pound of salt. A. Who knew salt had a “best by” date?, and B. It’s SALT! It’s a frickin’ rock!

    I absolutely hate throwing away perfectly healthy, tasty food. I work in hard science and logical discussions have changed nothing. Facts don’t seem to matter, it’s all emotion and squick. Info sheets from USDA – completely ignored. I have to restrain myself from yelling and calling her beliefs stupid, even though they are.


    1. Fruitfly*

      For dried foods, such as chips, crackers, and cookies, I think that you can still eat it even one month after the sell by date.

      For pastries, I will still eat it if it is five days after the sell by date.

      For yogurt, I will eat it three days after the sell by date.

      For produce and refridgerated meat, I think I will throw it out.

      1. Dan*

        To be clear, the OP wasn’t asking how long you think stuff keeps after the expiration date, but suggestions on how to deal with his wife before he kills her.

        1. Fruitfly*

          I start setting up my expiration date eating rules after looking through what foods were given away in the food pantries in my community. Maybe the OP and his wife can volunteer at a food pantry and she could see how “expired” the foods are and yet they can still be given to the people. Maybe that could change her mind…or no…

      2. Gene*

        I pretty much use the Alton Brown method, the “Three S’s” Stinky, Slimy and Sticky. If it’s not any of those three, it likely won’t kill you. It may not be at it’s peak, but it’s likely not dangerous.

      3. Rebecca*

        I’ve found yogurt 2 months past date, or more, shoved to the back of the fridge, and if it looks good, and tastes good, I eat it. It’s already cultured!

    2. Alter_ego*

      I have this argument with my roommate, but I’ve so far been unsuccessful. We don’t share food though, so as long as he doesn’t throw out my stuff, I can at least deal with it. Can you point out that, especially with sell by dates, the obviously don’t expect you to consume the whole thing immediately, so if it says “sell by”, there must be a few days at least where they expect you to be consuming it after it was sold? And “best by” literally means just that. Not “lethal after”, just that taste or freshness may be slightly diminished, if anything.

      I just use my nose. If it doesn’t smell off, and it isn’t stale or moldy, I figure I’m fine.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m sorry, I’ve got nothing. I’m only freaky about a couple things. One is milk, and even that is fine a few days past the expiration date, although when it turns, it happens fast. Skim milk seems to keep longer, I assume because there’s less (or no) fat in it. The other is chicken. Even if I buy it at the store intending to use it the next day, I put it in the freezer and take it out the next morning to thaw. About a month ago, I made some chicken tikka masala (using some jarred sauce I found at the store), and when I cooked it I realized the chicken had been sitting out for much longer than I’d intended. I used it anyway, and later that evening I paid the price (or something in the sauce did not agree with me). Thankfully, it was just me, and the hubby and kids were fine.

      This seems to be something people either are nuts about, or don’t think is any big deal. Tossing salt is a new one on me though.

      1. Gene*

        Odds are good it was either the sauce, or psychosomatic. I had a fellow sailor when in the Navy who couldn’t eat anything off base or ship when out of the US. He missed some great meals; but every time he would have “food poisoning”.

      2. fposte*

        Apparently, milk spoils faster the *lower* fat that it is–the spoilage bacteria are about the carbs, not the fat.

        However, a complication is that some milk is ultra-pasteurized (a lot of chain organic milks are, for instance), and that stuff lasts for a long time even after it’s opened.

      3. KayDay*

        Interesting – my experience has been that skim milk spoils faster. I don’t use much milk apart from coffee and occasionally baking things with it, so I actually switched to full-fat milk for my occasional milk purchases.

        Regarding chicken – I’m always really careful with chicken, because to me, it just never smells good. One time I had some chicken that had clearly (and very suddenly) gone bad. But I only noticed because it was sticky and slimy (ick!) but the smell wasn’t particularly noticeable.

        1. Red*

          To take the stink out of meat, use a small amount of baking soda, apply to the meat (not ground meat! yikes) and let it sit for 5 – 15 minutes, then rinse. It will get rid of the stink AND tenderize the stuff. Small amount being 1/4 – 1/2 tsp.

    4. Nina*

      As someone who gets very paranoid about food going bad, I empathize with you and your spouse. It drove my family crazy when I would pour out a whole gallon of milk because it had passed the expiration date. Very wasteful. Sometimes it hadn’t even been opened!

      I wonder if your spouse had a bad experience with food poisoning. I did as a child and it made me very nervous about food being fresh and whatnot.

      I’ve learned that most things are OK for a few days past the sell by/expiration date. I get a little leery when it comes to meat and dairy, especially when they’ve been at room temperature for too long. When I’m really in doubt, I throw it out. I also check this website called It’s very thorough and it gives me peace of mind before I throw something away. LOL.

      1. Nina*

        Oops, the comment is in moderation because of the link, but google “Still Tasty” on the shelf-life for particular foods. Helps me a lot when I’m feeling paranoid.

      2. Dan*

        I’ve got the worst food safety habits ever, and I never get sick.

        That said, your post is really mixing two very separate topics — how long food is safe after its “sell by date” while properly stored, and how long food is safe when NOT properly stored. When you leave stuff out at room temp, you shorten its life very very quickly.

        Dairy is interesting, because it all depends on the product and how much exposure to air it gets. For example, I’ve got a container of yogurt that I didn’t unseal until a month after its expiration date, and it’s as safe as can be. But if I leave a cup a milk at the bottom of the gallon carton, it will go bad fast.

        I try to freeze meat right away, that way if I don’t get to it before its sell by date, no big deal. If I keep it in the freezer too long, I run into quality issues long before I run into health issues.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          Yes! Unopened dairy is good for months past the expiration date. I love skyr (an Icelandic yogurt-like soft cheese) and no one in my small city carries it. So I order it by the case and inevitably there are a few at the end that are 6,8,12 weeks past expiration date. They’re always still good!

        2. the gold digger*

          I was a Peace Corps volunteer. Didn’t have a fridge in my first house. We had a big house party with volunteers from all over the country. Cooked a turkey and left it on the counter overnight, ate from it the next day. Nobody got sick. I also would leave yogurt out and never got sick from that.

          I have eaten at some dodgy places outside of the US and I don’t throw food away unless it smells bad or looks funny. The only times in my life I have gotten food poisoning have been at restaurants in the US. So I don’t worry too much about it.

          PS I also couldn’t wash my hands a lot when I was in the Peace Corps and guess what? I didn’t get sick.

    5. Dan*

      Marriage counseling?

      I’m not kidding. At this point, you’re not arguing about throwing away food, you’ve got stuff way deeper than that.

      This isn’t a quirk for you to just deal with, you’re wasting money, and that’s a real legitimate thing to have concern about, particularly when you’re trying to use reason and facts. Besides, doesn’t she have any respect for your profession?

      If she brings in an income, you might be able to shift some more of the food cost towards her side of the budget. After all, if that’s an issue that she won’t budge on, it’s not fair for you to carry that burden. We all have to pay for what’s important to us.

      Oh, the funny thing with salt isn’t that it’s a rock, but it was used as preservative in other countries for many years.

      Or maybe you can take a sharpie and cross out the date so it’s not legible.

      1. Jen RO*

        You mean it’s not used as a preservative in the US? *eyes her delicious pickled cucumbers in salt water*

    6. K*

      Ask them what they think people did before sell-by dates were invented.

      Look at the food and smell it. If meat or dairy products smell bad, throw them away. Mold and large rotting spots on any type of food mean that you throw it away as well. You can also toss any foods when they go stale *but* you can make a nice bread pudding with stale bread.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          This sounds like a case of “emotions convince, facts justify.” I have a strong suspicion the OP will have better luck if he tries, in a completely nonjudgmental way, to understand the reasons for his spouse’s fear and then address those reasons. And by “reasons” I don’t mean necessarily that the spouse is giving factual reasons that can be rebutted. Maybe it’s that, when spouse was a kid, she got nasty food poisoning, and forever after will associate “past the sell-by date” with “puke” even though it may have been a freak occurrence. Or maybe growing up, her parents were equally strict about throwing out anything that’s past its sell-by date and she simply does not feel right keeping the food.

          Let’s say it’s the latter case — I wonder if approaching the situation more empathetically would lead to an agreeable compromise. “I totally get it — I know how hard it is to do things differently. When I was growing up, my parents would go ballistic if we wasted anything, which is why I get so frustrated when we throw out food that’s still edible.” This might lead to spouse giving in, or spouse agreeing that she won’t throw out food until a certain amount of time past the sell-by date as long as she doesn’t have to eat the expired food, etc. — but I don’t think it would lead to a complete stonewall because this is probably at least as much about feeling heard as it is about whether food is spoiled or not.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Mould on cheese means you cut the mouldy section off and eat the rest of it – I’ve done it all my life and I’m fine (although I am super paranoid about chicken after a 10-day bout of Campylobacter food poisoning that landed me in the hospital). But yeah, the sniff test is a much better judge for dairy products than the date is, and mouldy meat (not that i’ve ever seen any reach that stage!) should be thrown away immediately.

    7. QualityControlFreak*

      Well, your one example of the waste of healthy, tasty food was a pound of salt. While I wouldn’t ever think of salt as spoiling, over time it can become compressed and stick together, at which point it’s more or less useless because, as you’ve observed, it’s a frickin’ rock. If that were the case, and my spouse flipped out on me for throwing it out, I think I’d probably ask sweetly if they wanted me to buy them a new pound of salt. Because really. How much money are we talking here? It’s salt.

      And this isn’t about salt, anyway. It’s about how much you are willing to compromise to get along. Your spouse has some habits around food safety that annoy you very much. But weight that appropriately. How much do you think it costs you in wasted food? Yelling and calling your spouse’s ideas stupid is a high-cost move in terms of getting along or building a stronger partnership. So weight that appropriately, too.

      1. Dan*

        You’re right, this isn’t about food. She won’t reason with him or listen to logic, or for that matter read the FDA pamphlets that he brings her.

        Which is why my advice upthread is marriage counseling. She shouldn’t get to draw a line in the sand and tell him he has to deal on his own.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          This. I don’t love all the advice of “she’s not going to change/suck it up.” I really believe that a big part of marriage is to make each other into healthier/better human beings. It’s clear that this is somewhere in the mental illness category, and she should get at the root of her issues in therapy, not having a loved one mask it for the next 30 years. Sure, it may take a looong time for anything to happen, but he shouldn’t resign himself to a lifetime of her phobias and of wasting food.

          My husband is the same way about hoarding. We have a stack up to my knee of that old paper they used in dot matrix printing, and he insists that we use it as scrap paper before recycling it. Well, sure. We have a giant 3 bedroom house and plenty of room. But in a year, we’ll be downsizing, putting things into storage and moving, so he knows it’s gotta go by then. Same with the printer (I kid you not) from 1992 that hasn’t worked in about a year. He knows he has to let go, he knows I’m making him let go. I’m compassionate about it, but there’s no way I’m going to let him wallow in useless junk for years. Because I love him.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t think this is necessarily that big a psychological deal or anywhere near on a par with hoarding, and I think there’s a real marital risk when your definition of making your spouse healthier is making them agree with you.

            If she can’t let it go even if NT brings home a special treat for him/herself that the spouse wouldn’t have to ingest, or even if NT does all the cooking/shopping, that’s a broader issue. But using food quickly isn’t overall a bad thing, and it’s possible to shop with that in mind and thus avoid the food waste problem.

            1. Treena Kravm*

              It’s funny you say that because I think this is a higher level than hoarding (or at least my husband’s level, which is super minor compared to those TV shows). From what NT says below, she’s throwing away a *lot* of food that isn’t even questionable. Eggs, bread, unopened milk, canned food?? That’s all really easy to tell whether it’s off or not. It sounds like they’re not able to use food within the sell-by date, because if I were in NT’s place, that’s the first thing I would try.

              Of course it’s not about making her agree with him, and it’s definitely not necessarily a full-blown mental illness, but her behavior is on one end of the extreme, and she won’t budge. So if she won’t compromise *at all,* which is what it sounds like, why is it that he has to compromise? He presents several possible solutions/compromises, and she gets to say no without offering up her own? If this is the only issue she refuses to compromise on, it’s probably rooted in something psychological.

              1. fposte*

                Ultimately, it’s up to NT. But this isn’t a situation where he’s desperately longing for two-week old milk and can’t have it. It just bothers him ideologically, and the financial hit, which is pretty small, is easily avoidable by changing shopping habits.

                I mean, I agree that it’s no more incumbent on him to change than it is on her, but it’s also no more incumbent on her to change than him. So set aside the notion that this is about whose will counts more, and see what matters here for the people involved. In general, I think that comfort in one’s own house is pretty important, so if I, for instance, lived with Jamie, I would make an effort to be a lot less grossheedless about cleaning, because that’s important to her in a way that not leaving the toothbrushes out really isn’t to me.

      2. Not Telling*

        The salt was just an example of something that literally doesn’t go bad (at least, not in our lifetimes). Yeah, it can cake and I can see getting some new for that; but this was free-flowing and completely fine.

        I could stock a small supermarket with the things that have been dumped. Unopened carton of milk? Down the sink. Bread? Trash. Canned foods? Opened, dumped in toilet or trash depending on consistency, can recycled (gotta be green, don’cha know). Eggs? Cracked into the toilet and trashed the shells. The condiments? Oh. My. Gods. The condiments that went in the trash and sewer. She threw out honey. They’ve recovered honey from the Pharaoh’s tombs and it was edible! I think you can get the idea. That date, no matter what it says, is sacrosanct.

        I’ll look at StillTasty. It won’t do any good, but I’l try.

        And while some of it is the money, it’s the sheer waste. I was raised to not waste food. Period. Not that “kids are starving in Bangladesh”, but you just don’t waste food. Dad hunted so we would have meat. I grew up on venison, wild turkey, and pronghorn; and you can bet that every edible part of those animals was eaten. Maybe that’s the answer, game! Deer don’t have expiration date tattooed on their rumps.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I really hate wasting food also, which, given that I’m not a frugal person generally is odd, how upset I get when I throw out food. I think it’s because it feels so first world over privileged to throw out food. Or something.

          One of the things I do is refuse to replace food that’s been thrown out, for at least a couple of weeks. Another thing I do is keep an eye to dates and give warning to get this XYZ used up now before it goes out of date.

          I don’t believe the dates on eggs AT ALL, but my husband does, and it’s not worth a fight if I insist the eggs are perfectly fine. So instead it’s “three days left on these eggs, lets use them up now” (or, implied, I’m not buying any eggs for another couple weeks and we can all go eggless), and that seems to work out.

          We’re now on a salad greens ban, which is cutting off my nose to spite my face since I want them to eat more greens, not less, but I threw out smelly salad greens this weekend. Hopefully we all will miss salad enough to eat it all up the next time it arrives.

          1. Jazzy Red*

            Re: eggs. Yesterday on America’s Test Kitchen, Christopher Kimball said that he found some eggs way back in his fridge with an expiration date of at least a month earlier. He cracked one open, it looked OK and it smelled OK, so he used the eggs in baking and cooking. No problems with that. I’m not going to worry about the egg carton date anymore, although we usually use them up quickly. Salads greens get slimey, so they get tossed without a second thought.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

              What I remember, and bear in mind sometimes I just make things up but what I remember is that when I was growing up/young adult, eggs were dated out much further than they are now (a month or more). Egg dating practices were changed to be much more conservative across the board after “whatever” scare. So, what I remember is that the same eggs that never killed me before are now arbitrarily dated to be bad.

              None of which flew with the husband. He’d rather go by the date on the package then whether things are actually bad so, eat em up now then mister, before they are out of date.

              1. fposte*

                The US also commercially washes eggs in a way that removes the protective coating, so they don’t last as long.

                Egg rottenness is blindingly obvious, so I don’t pay any attention to dates but I do crack them in a separate dish first and have low expectations for the egg whites beating up if they’re old.

              2. HR Pro*

                Wakeen, you’re probably right about the egg dates. I’m pretty sure that I’ve heard that various food sellers/manufacturers will artificially shorten the “sell by” or “best by” dates to make it so that people will by more product (because people throw them out thinking they’re past their usable life). I bet the salt is a good example of that — the salt sellers want you to throw out “old” salt sooner that you actually need to and buy more.

                I doubt this will help NT, because logic isn’t working in that situation, but if other people are curious they could do some internet searching about this.

            2. AdminAnon*

              A great way to test eggs is by sticking one in a glass of water. If it sinks, it’s perfectly fine. If it sits in the middle, it’s ok to eat if it’s cooked (i.e. scrambled instead of over easy). If it floats, toss it. It has something to do with the gasses being released as they age. I have a really weak stomach, but I’ve never had a problem with eggs using this method.

              1. acmx*

                Thanks for this! I usually only use eggs for baking and I rarely can use all 6 before the expiration date. I never want to crack open an old egg – I’m afraid of the results. Eggs kinda gross me out.

            1. Noah*

              That’s totally what I do. I have a coworker that lives in a rural area and is always bringing cartons of eggs into the office to give away. They taste way better and they’re free. Some people are grossed out because she doesn’t wash the eggs, but she says that it makes them last longer even if they’re a bit ugly. I don’t mind rinsing them off first.

              1. Jen RO*

                I’m a city girl, but I’ve spent a few summers in the countryside, and the idea of washing eggs is… odd. I mean OK, they obviously wash them for sale in supermarkets and such, because they look better… but it’s not like anyone’s gonna lick the egg, so what’s so gross about it?

                1. fposte*

                  The US commercially washes its eggs, which is actually a little controversial–it strips them of protective coating that makes them last longer, for one thing–but it means to us “normal eggs” are very, very clean. Despite coming out of chicken butts.

              2. hermit crab*

                She’s right. Eggs are apparently laid with a protective coating that makes them last a very long time if it’s not removed. I recently learned that this is why raw eggs stay good longer than hard-boiled eggs, which seems counter-intuitive to me — boiling destroys that coating.

          2. Ann Furthermore*

            I hate wasting food too, and my biggest struggle is with leftovers. I have a heck of a time getting my husband to eat them.

            He’s a big dude, and has 3 brothers who are also big dudes. So in a house with 2 parents and 4 voracious boys, I think he grew up believing that leftovers were an urban myth, other than Thanksgiving. When we got married and I started cooking more, I couldn’t just make a smaller meal for the 2 of us. Because in addition to being a big dude with a big appetite (6’5″, 290 lbs), he never eats breakfast and sometimes skips lunch, so by the time dinner rolls around he is absolutely ravenous. So he’ll eat pretty big servings of stuff. There are usually leftovers, but I’m the only one that eats them. When I asked him what his hang-up about it was, he said he doesn’t like to eat the same thing 2 days in a row. No matter how many times I tell him that skipping meals like that causes wild blood sugar swings, he does it anyway.. Argh!

            Now, we have 2 kids and his mother-in-law living with us, so it’s not as much of a problem. Mostly because in our house Friday night is usually leftovers night. When he grumbles about that, I ask him if he likes what I cook. When he says yes, I say, “Then you have to freaking eat it!!” Otherwise it gets all nasty and gross in the fridge and it gets tossed, which just bugs the crap out of me.

            We are in the midst of a kitchen remodel and at the moment I’m unable to use the range. So last weekend, I had what I thought was a great idea. On Sunday I threw a big hunk of pork into the crock pot and made pulled pork, and on Monday I did the same thing with a big hunk of beef. Enough for us all to make do for dinner for the rest of the week. I told him this very clearly and said that we’re going to be dealing with leftovers for awhile. The next night, what did he ask me? “What’s for dinner?” And then was not pleased when I reminded him about the pork/beef options for the week. ARGH!!!

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

              You’d think with three men 6’1″ to 6’3″ in my house (2 grown sons), I wouldn’t have leftover problems, but all three of them are going to eat what they eat and they aren’t big on leftovers. I like to cook big batches of things but, I had to give it up. I’d freeze stuff and I was just making more stress for myself. If you freeze stuff consistently, you have to manage your freezer. I already have a day job.

              So, I try to not to create leftovers, OR, I intentionally create leftovers that I can use in my dog food. (thread from 6 weeks ago, make my own dog food. NO LEFTOVER PROBLEMS or complaints from the dogs!)

              Good luck with kitchen remodel! We were out of our kitchen for 6 months. oy. so much take out food.

        2. Colette*

          I agree with Dan. Counselling is the way to go.

          This is something where your values differ. Your logic is fine, but you can’t win an emotional argument with logic.

        3. Treena Kravm*

          I’m wondering if throwing food in the toilet is a thing many people do? To me that sounds really strange (especially the eggs). When I’m cleaning out the fridge, I toss everything non-liquid in the trash bag and take it out right away. I’m guessing it’s because she checks dates daily that she doesn’t want goo in the trash?

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            This is honest to God the first I’ve heard of throwing food in the toilet. I’ve always tossed liquids into the sink and washed them down with water, foods into the trash (or into the sink also if I have a garburetor), and be done with it.

            1. fposte*

              I think it gets more common in dorm/communal/work situations, where the sink drain can’t really cope with the volume of solids.

            2. Gene*

              If I have a stew or something liquidy but too chunky for the sink drain, I’ll toilet it. Speaking as a wastewater professional, ideally one should strain out the solids, skim the fats, out those in solid waste, the dump the liquid down the drain.

              Garbage disposals are evil. They are probably the largest source of grease to the sewer, and grease causes about 80% of sewer overflows. We have such problems downstream of apartment complexes that we are considering banning disposals in future multi-family construction.

              1. Stephanie*

                When I was in my dorm room, I used to toss liquid/chunky food down the toilet (like soups).

                Gene, so is that why disposals aren’t allowed in New Jersey? (Or maybe it’s just certain parts. I could see the density there presenting some problems.) I was staying with my friend’s family in Northern NJ town and their municipality didn’t allow garbage disposals.

                1. fposte*

                  Oh, I’d never heard of that–that’s fascinating! The Dirty Jobs episode at a wastewater plant did make me a lot more careful about what went in the water vs. the garbage; I’d genuinely never processed the fact that either I take the stuff out now or somebody else has to take the stuff out later.

              2. K*

                You can still use a garbage disposal without adding more grease to the sewer. My parents put all grease in a can, the can went in the freezer, and when it was full it was disposed of properly.

          2. Cath in Canada*

            My husband’s done it a few times, e.g. when getting rid of the dregs from a big pot of soup. Once he did it and then didn’t flush the loo, which gave me quite a shock when I walked into the bathroom!

        4. Zed*

          To me, an obvious solution (read: compromise) is to work on reducing the amount of food you keep past the expiration date. For example, if you have an unopened, expired carton of milk, you are probably buying milk too often. Same with the bread.

        5. QualityControlFreak*

          Waste bothers me too. A lot. So if your spouse is truly throwing away enough food to stock a small grocery store, let’s drill down to the root cause.

          Food comes into the house, food leaves the house. You want to make sure it leaves via being eaten rather than in the trash, so what can you do?

          It appears to me that you’re buying too much food. I mean, you’re eating enough of it to keep you alive, and she’s still throwing out this much? Whoever does the grocery shopping controls how much food comes into the house, and this is where changes can be made. If spouse does this task, I’d suggest you swap duties around. Take over the purchasing and stocking, using good storekeeping practices like “just in time” and “first in, first out” to ensure you are able to use food within the recommended timeframes.

          If you need to stockpile some food in case of emergency (we do), MREs or other emergency rations have a long shelf-life. You can rotate stock out as needed.

          And wild game – yum! But the family of hunters I grew up in still marked the packages of freezer-bound venison with the date of Bambi’s demise, and used the meat within a reasonable timeframe.

          Compromise is possible here. You can use food before the expiration date, and buy only what you will use. It takes some attention but it can be done.

          Honestly though, I still don’t think this is about food. To me, you sound angry, and righteous. You can be justified in both (not saying that I think you are, just that you can be) but it does nothing to fix your problem. You could also decide that you can’t live with this wasteful, illogical person, move on and reorder your life however you want it, with no need for discussion or compromise.

        6. Jenna*

          I feel for you. Having a disagreement of this sort does not make for a cozy home life.
          I have a roommate who is recovering from living with a hoarder grandmother and dealing with the food that grandma thought was still ok to serve. Hint: sometimes it was not. So. I understand that my roommate has squick issues with some food having hung around too long. I am the main cook. I don’t cook huge amounts of anything and I monitor what gets used fast and what doesn’t. I’m lucky, she doesn’t care about salt, spices, condiments. It’s mostly opened things and leftovers that cause problems. I can plan around this, but, it does require planning.
          I had larger problems with someone I lived with before who wasn’t *quite* a hoarder, but, was definitely someone who didn’t want to throw anything away because, “we might need that!” He also bought food on impulse, and didn’t like my cooking. I ended up spending much more on eating out with him, because if I made something, then I was often the only one eating it, and who likes to cook when it isn’t appreciated?
          So. Maybe I have been on both sides? From your description, this has gone way WAY too far in the direction of tossing food. I see boundaries being trampled here, and I second the idea of counseling. Planning out food purchases to only cover what you will absolutely use by the sell-by date will help, but, there is more going on. Also, I can’t imagine a mismatch this severe that is also not impacting something else in the relationship. It looks like the most visible tip of an iceberg to me.

        7. Celeste*

          I don’t think she’s going to change. It sounds almost like an obsessive fear with her. Is she anxious about a lot of things, or just this?

          The only coping advice I have is to keep a much smaller pantry and refrigerator stash for what you will use this week, and go to the grocery more frequently! If it never gets allowed to get past the expiration date, it won’t be on her radar to toss it. It will cost more in time since there won’t be any stock-ups, and maybe you might eat out or get carryout more frequently. Maybe this is a way to meet in the middle, between her phobia about spoilage and your phobia about wasting food.

          I don’t think either one is ever going to become like the other. You’ve had all this time together which proves that each have your own camp.

    8. Josh S*

      Here’s what the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service has to say:

      “Except for “use-by” dates, product dates don’t always pertain to home storage and use after purchase. “Use-by” dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates. Even if the date expires during home storage, a product should be safe, wholesome and of good quality if handled properly.”

      Basically, stuff is good to use until it spoils. The date on most food products is when the manufacturer wants you to throw it away by–either because they don’t want people stockpiling (the industry term is “pantry loading”) when stuff is on sale, or because they think it will hurt your perception of the brand if you eat stuff that is stale (ie a degradation in quality, not a decrease in safety).

      Tell your spouse to stop throwing good food away! Because someone who claimed to work for a major international manufacturer of food products (which I am) said so on the internet.

    9. Chloe*

      I feel for you, my husband is the same and it drives me mad. The European Union is having some discussion about removing the best-before dates from certain foods – long-life foods such as rice, coffee, dry pasta, hard cheeses, jams and pickles.

      I wonder if she realises how much this upsets you, and if I were you, I’d sit down and have a very calm discussion where you explain that you understand her need to eat safe food, but that the best before dates are largely driven by the desire of the producers to make money – the quicker you throw it out, the sooner you’ll buy more. Explain the science (briefly), give her the info again, and ask whether she is willing to consider compromising on this. Maybe you can find some foods that she is comfortable to eat past the best before date, and you can find a middle ground. It sounds like she is entrenched in her position, and you’ll never get someone to change their mind in that situation by being emotional.

      Good luck.

    10. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      My suggestions for a happy marriage? Was that what you were asking? :p

      Cost/benefit, cost/benefit, cost/benefit

      Salt costs like $1.00. Cost of throwing it out, $1.00, benefit, not fighting with your wife or proving her wrong or illogical over salt.


      1. Noah*

        Agreed! It drives my girlfriend crazy that I spend $15 a week washing my car. She says it is unnecessary, I disagree. I finally asked her if spending $60 a month of my own money was something we should really be fighting over.

        1. fposte*

          There’s nothing like being close to somebody to make you realize that what’s deeply important to your life’s contentment and order is just weird to other people, and vice versa. Kind of like when you went to a friend’s house in primary school and found that they Did Things Differently, and what the heck was that about?

    11. Another Teacher*

      I sympathise with your spouse. Logically I know that best before dates aren’t really that important, but that doesn’t take away the sick churning in my stomach when I try to eat them. I grew up with parents who ignored use by dates etc entirely and I was often forced to eat out of date disgusting food so as not to “waste” it, so the sense memory of that over-rides any logic I try to apply. I just can’t enjoy food if I know it’s past the date printed on it. I’m happier just chucking food out and buying more, even if it means wasting it. For me that’s a small price to pay for feeling safe and happy with my meals. Luckily I’m single so I don’t have anyone trying to force me out of this.

      Maybe you can try to find out where your spouse’s aversion is coming from, and understand what is motivating them to do this. It might help you with the part where you are feeling the desire to yell at and call stupid someone you (presumably) love and respect. Therapy or marriage counselling might be useful in this, for one or both of you.

    12. evilintraining*

      If you’ve gone as far as presenting USDA sheets without her budging, this is an unwinnable battle. I’ve been married for 20 years by letting certain things go. Buy smaller containers of stuff if you have to in order to keep food out of the trash. DH and I both make concessions to make it work; don’t sweat the small stuff.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Agree 100%.

        The husband changed his diet to reduce a lot of the bread he was eating. All of a sudden, the bread I was buying was going moldy before it was half eaten.

        Neither one of us like frozen bread, however, I could not keep throwing out bread, and nobody was going to sell me half a loaf. So I say, honey, I gotta start freezing this bread, I don’t have any choice. Okay with you? And he says, sure, I see your point.

        I split the loaf up the moment in comes in the house, half in the bread drawer, half in the freezer, and the next week we eat out of the freezer.

        If he’d insisted on fresh bread all the time, I would have had to tell him to buy the bread then because I just can’t keep throwing this stuff out and buying more. And we would have worked it out that way then.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          I do frozen bread, it doesn’t bother me. When I first got married, I couldn’t figure out where the hell all the bread was going. I’d buy some at the store, and it would be gone 3 days later. Then I realized that my husband would come home starving, and make himself 3 sandwiches to hold him over until dinner. I ranted about his eating habits above.

    13. Rebecca*

      LOL my Mom is like this. She’s given me blocks of cheese, because the sell by date is the next day. Once I said “Oh, so you won’t eat spoiled cheese, but you expect me to eat it?” I got the Mom frowny face over that one. Explaining to my Mom that this is cheese, and most likely had a layer of mold on it before it was cut and shrink wrapped doesn’t work. So I take the free cheese, and when I get around to eating it, I do. If a little speck of mold appears on hard cheese, I hack it off and just eat the rest.

      Truly, I think we are very spoiled here. Things we consider garbage and not edible would be scarfed up and eaten by many people in the world.

    14. Jazzy Red*

      First, realize that you are not going to change her. She is the way she is.

      Second, why not just do a sweep of your food every month, or every 3 months (or whenever), and pull out everything that has a date coming up soon. Use that food before taking out newer food.

      Third, don’t stock up on food that you won’t use within the next month or two, no matter what the price is or how good the sale is. If you’re throwing food away, you’re wasting the money you spent on it. Just buy what you’ll be able to use up within that time frame.

      Logic and reason are ineffective weapons again phobias. You can’t destroy the phobia, so you have to find ways around it. As Dr. Phil says, “do want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”

    15. Treena Kravm*

      How about having her put all the “throw-away” food on a specific shelf, in both the fridge and pantry. She doesn’t have to eat it, but it’s marked appropriately so she won’t accidentally consume it and you can instead. Put your foot down and argue it from a money/green perspective that you believe passionately in (even if you really don’t). If she throws something out, take it out of the trash (hopefully that’ll squick her out more so she’d rather just see you eat it).

    16. fposte*

      You’ve likely seen the, um, raging discussions here about what is and isn’t disgusting. They’re not logic based. This is like telling your spouse that there’s logically nothing wrong with rat meat. Logically there isn’t, but it’s going to be too much of a hurdle to get over for people who are disgusted by the notion and have choices.
      And I’m not sure food waste is really the issue here–a bag of salt is under a buck, after all, and were you going to eat it to make sure it didn’t go to waste? I’d also be very careful that you’re not getting into the bad territory of dividing things into “the way she wants it” vs. “the logical