Frugal Fatigue and Spending
Yesterday morning I drove my DD to daycare, listening to NPR in my car. A lady was talking about this year's spending and how sales were ... blah blah blah. I was barely listening until she said, "Frugal Fatigue." My ears popped up! Yep, that is what I got. I knew there was a word for it.
Now, her definition and my definition might be a bit different. (I told you I only heard those two words). My definition is when you come to a point where being frugal just stinks and you just buy what you want, when you want. It seems to reoccur quite a bit and that is what sets me back! Frugal Fatigue! Yep, I get that! But, how do I combat it?
Frugal fatigue is no different than falling off of the diet bandwagon. You work and work to lose weight only to be thwarted by an office birthday party or a dinner out with friends. However, just because you gain a couple of pounds back does not mean you should abandon the diet altogether. No, you just start the next day fresh and try again.
The same is true for your finances. Just because you are a frugal person it does not mean that you cannot treat yourself from time to time. In fact, just like dieting, if you allow yourself a few small splurges, you are much less likely to go hog wild and make a huge splurge that will set you way back. Everything will be fine so long as you climb back on the frugal bandwagon. You know you are doing what is best so stick with it and you will see results!
Apryle in El Cajon, CA
The best way to fight frugal fatigue is to make frugality a way of life rather than a burden and to make a game out of it. Okay, that's really two, but they work together. If you consider being frugal somehow demeaning, unpleasant or oppressive, then it is difficult to do all the time. If you consider it a lifestyle and the end result is financial freedom, it is much easier.
So I don't buy coffee when I'm out and about. I carefully compare prices, and I buy all my clothing on clearance. On the plus side, my home has been paid for since I was in my 40's, I live almost entirely on my Social Security now that I am older, and I am able to save money for the inevitable appliance replacement.
I still live well in an upscale condominium, eat out occasionally, attend theatre productions and do other things I enjoy, but I do them without worry. If I feel like spending money, I go to the dollar store. How much trouble can I get into there?
It sounds like you are not setting aside any money to save for something special that you want and is not a need. Maybe set aside a few dollars from some areas of your budget for something just for you. It might hold off any impulse buying if you know that you're saving for that something special.
I think everyone who pinches pennies does get tired of it after a while. Now and then you can pamper yourself with small luxuries. I just bought myself a box of Godiva chocolates. I plan on having just one a day until they run out. This isn't a regular monthly expense for me, but it satisfies that part of me that wants to do something more extravagant once in a while. It is still much cheaper than spending hundreds of dollars on something I really don't need.
Linda, Tri-Cities, WA
Ah yes, the infamous "I want what I want, and I want it now!" Of course, it hits everyone occasionally, but it also passes quickly and must be planned for in your budget. Everyone should have a personal spending account that you may use for anything you desire. Living on a budget is not punishment! It is rewarding because it allows you to have what you want. A fancy coffee shop latte is a nice treat, but not an everyday expense. Nice clothes should be taken care of properly and last a long time. A "new" car or a vacation takes a bit more planning and restraint to achieve, but all are possible while being frugal. Plan, execute and enjoy life! Frugality requires thought, but should not be painful.
Pam in AR
It helps to remember why you are being frugal. Are you saving for a trip, kids' education, or to pay down debt? Create some tangible reward, such as a chart that shows how much you've saved or paid off.
Another thing is to figure out small luxuries that you can use to reward yourself, whether it's a new lipstick, exotic tea, or just a peaceful walk. The Stretcher site has lots of ideas for free indulgences. I like visiting the local botanical garden in the winter; just a half of an hour of walking and sitting among the tropical plants, in the steamy heat, is like a vacation.
Look at being frugal as "beating the system." You didn't let the corporate shills get you to part with your hard-earned money!
Frugal Fatigue can hit at any time, but particularly if you have long term goals, like I do. I want to pay our 40-year mortgage off in 20 years, down to 19 now. So every month I pay extra on the principal. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have that extra money for bills, or for little extras, then I look at the way the loan is decreasing and it renews my determination.
Since 19 years is a long time, I give myself mini goals. If I meet them, I reward myself. For example, I "trick" myself into saving all the change in a jar. When it is full, about every three months, I force myself to spend it on something totally fun and frivolous. Also, any dollar bills that are left out of shopping can be spent on "wants" like a quick trip to the thrift store for more books or a pretty journal that I normally would pass up.
Giving yourself permission to spend a little here and there can really keep you on track. Yes, it is admirable to have long term goals, and necessary, too. But if you can't enjoy the journey, is it going to be worth it? Find happiness and joy in the everyday life, and if spending a small amount of money now will improve your life, then do it and don't feel guilty!
Shaunna in ND
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