Ways to prevent feelings of deprivation, depression and resentment during tough times

No Need to Feel Deprived

by Veronica Hunsucker

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Just from personal observation, I have noticed that when people go on a diet, seriously cut their budget, or try breaking a habit of some sort they are not as successful with their endeavor if they begin to feel deprived. A feeling of deprivation seems to lead to a feeling of depression and sometimes resentment. There are ways to handle a lifestyle change without falling victim to those negative feelings.

A reduction in income is a lifestyle change that is affecting many today. Job cuts, investment losses, reduced working hours, or medical situations can mandate a serious budget overhaul. If you have had to reduce your spending, it is important that you find ways to keep your spirit up and not allow depression to become an additional burden.

When forced with a need to reduce spending, leisurely shopping is one of the first activities to be cut from the budget. Doing this could lead to feelings of deprivation. While your shopping pattern may change, you can still allow for smaller, less frequent shopping sprees in order not to feel deprived. Shop at lower priced stores and wait for sale prices. Discover the pleasure of small uplifting purchases like a candle, a new coffee mug, fresh flowers, or inexpensive wardrobe accessories.

Dining out is often cut from the budget when finances are tight. Once again, you may need to reduce the number of times you dine out but don't totally deprive yourself of that luxury. Look for less expensive places to dine. People tend to be creatures of habit. Dining out on a modified budget may open the door for new dining experiences. If possible, take advantage of lunch specials rather than eating out in the evening. If you have to reduce the frequency of dining out, make the event special by dressing up even if you're just going to a small local cafe. You will feel like you are doing something special. Attitude plays a large part in making tough times more bearable.

Look for free entertainment opportunities. Some towns have free concerts in the park during the summer months. Search the newspaper, watch for advertisements posted at various locations, or do an Internet search for your area. Many areas have hiking trails you can take advantage of at no cost. Enjoy a trip to the dog park with your dog. You might even be able to find free or low admission art exhibits, musical performances, or theater productions in your area. An evening at home or a weekend at home on a "pretend vacation" can be a very pleasurable, yet inexpensive experience. You can borrow movies from the library and enjoy a movie marathon weekend at home.

On a reduced budget, you might need to find creative ways to fund your morale boosting adventures. One of the easiest ways to accumulate a little "extra" money is to never dig out the exact change when making a purchase. Give the cashier dollars and put the change in a jar to use as money for fun activities. If you are a coupon user, new or long time clipper, you can add up the total of the coupons you use and put that amount of money aside for pleasure spending. Be careful not to use coupons carelessly. They are a benefit to you only if you had planned to buy the item anyway and if the coupon makes the price of that item lower than a similar store brand. Brown bagging your lunch and saving the money you would have spent dining out is also a possible source for collecting a little extra cash.

The method by which you manage to squeeze out some money for personal pleasure each month is not what's important. What matters most is that you find a way to designate some money as "fun money." You will stick to your reduced budget more consistently and with less or no resentment or depression if you can avoid feeling deprived during a difficult financial time.

Take the Next Step:

  • Many of us have given up a lot because of the economy. So we're looking for "Little Luxuries" that we can share with everyone. If you have an inexpensive way to make yourself feel good, please send it to gary@stretcher.com. We'll share the best ones in future issues.
  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!

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