Freezer Money by
(34 Stories)

Prompted By Best Advice: Money

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

After Aunt Ruth passed away, my sister and cousin and I undertook one of Hercules’ labors…cleaning out her house.  Hoarder?  Raised during the Great Depression, she treasured material possessions not out of greed but as insurance against the spectre of want.  We tackled the easy things first, recycling piles of newspapers, uncovering caches of birthday cards saved through the years, and collecting the dozen-plus  magnifying glasses she placed strategically around the house.  My cousin drew the task of clearing the refrigerator of countless containers whose contents were unidentifiable.  The freezer was much the same, with added treats like packets wrapped in foil and pill bottles. The garbage bags got fatter.

Two hundred dollars in - excuse the expression - cold, hard cash.

We all know how important it is to listen to the little voices in our heads, right?  My cousin looked at me funny for a few moments, then turned back to one of the garbage bags and fished out a mystery foil packet.  With a deep breath she peeled it open and burst out laughing.  Inside?  Two hundred dollars in – excuse the expression – cold, hard cash. Motivated now, we all dove in with glee until at the final tally we had over two thousand bucks.

My cousin’s daughter breezed through the kitchen about then and said, “Oh yeah, you didn’t know about that?  But you know Aunt Ruth didn’t trust banks.  When we would go to the movies, or out for ice cream, she would stop first at the freezer and pull out some cash.  She called it her freezer money.”

We went on to find layers of buried treasure in that house. No more stashes of cash, but mementos of a life well lived. It yielded up her secrets, laid them bare for our admiration or guarded amusement. I don’t think I’ll adopt the practice of freezer money. But when it’s my kids’ turn to go through my stuff, I hope I will have remembered to leave them something to unearth that will make them laugh out loud.


Profile photo of Susan Susan

Characterizations: , been there, funny, moving, well written


  1. Constance says:

    Aunt Ruth was so amazingly frugal, and somehow managed it without being cheap. That depression mindset was serious stuff. I once looked in her hall closet at several old coats behind the vacuum cleaner. They were years out of style, but she looked me in the eye and said that a good coat could be the thing that keeps a person alive in a survival situation. When we went through her house I found just about every Christmas and birthday gift I had ever given her, often cradled in the wrapping with the tag intact. I so admire the way she played her cards close to the chest and ended up with those properties like she was playing a Monopoly game.

  2. Ha Ha Ha, my mother in law would have loved this. She, a classic hoarder with much the same profile as your aunt. Stacks of styrofoam meat trays placed neatly in garbage bags, cool whip containers, pie tins…my poor wife. We actually had to rent a dumpster when she passed away to get rid of all the JUNK!!! But every grandkid learned to treasure Grandma’s treasures and use their imagination to enjoy the time. Thanks for the trip down memory lane…..

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Susan, my father had a plastic head of lettuce with a screw top intended to keep cash in it, thinking no thief would ever look in the fridge. It was quite realistic. He showed it to me before he died, so I knew where to look, but someone actually invented an item to use just as your Aunt Ruth did all on her own.

    • Susan says:

      There was a time when my mother-in-law and her friends were told to keep their jewelry in the freezer to hide it from thieves, and called it their “ice on ice.” Oh the lengths to which we go to protect our stuff. Love the head of lettuce.

Leave a Reply