your wife is getting a psychological lift from being thrifty. The only way to get past this is to find out what - in her childhood - drove her to believe that she is only worthy and admirable if she can cut every cent off her expenses.
What have you done to explore that?
I see no psychological lift from anything she does. She actually isn't all that thrifty...once she decides something is "necessary", she thinks it's OK to buy it. There were years when she spent over $10,000 on dog care - for a healthy dog. I asked her why and she said "look at what it was spent on, what would you have deprived the dog of?" (in a confrontational voice). She's just fearful - of everything. Not just money. We can go for a walk in the woods and around every corner she utters what animal she thinks is in wait for us!
She was raised upper middle class - the parents were able to afford private school for all six kids. But the parents spoke as if they were broke...they never told the kids "no", they always said "we can't afford it". It was some kind of message from childhood that led her to think that the world is full of lots of badness and the only way to survive is to avoid it. Neither she, nor any of her siblings were taught to seek happiness and goodness, it seems. And there've been no tragedies, no physical abuse or anything like that.
In a year+ of counseling, neither I, nor the counselor, has seen signs that she believes herself worthy of anything...she seems to be driven, if anything, by a need to please someone...obedience to a boss, teacher, parent seemed to be what propelled her in her youth...and at work. An extreme form of what's called a "people pleasure" personality.
But...that's moot, as it's not "my business". My role is to take care of myself, so I'm trying to find ways to spend less time talking about/managing money, without it seeming like I'm telling her off.
Counseling today went oddly, think I'll top post about it.