That feeling of exhaustion after you have been frugal for so long. The sense of dread when you have denied yourself for months at a time while focused on a bigger goal, whether that be debt freedom or just making ends meet. This is frugal fatigue and it’s a real thing.
Frugal Fatigue sneaks up on you after you have denied yourself the rush of spending money. Practicing a thrifty lifestyle and giving up on competing with the Joneses or throwing out the dizziness of instant gratification can send you straight into a funk.
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What is Frugal Fatigue?
Frugal fatigue is the phrase coined by the burn out you feel after being frugal for long stretches at a time. An extreme penny pincher who is mentally exhausted after trying to count all the pennies all the time is bound to explode.
This is why so many never make it till the end. Budgets fail, and resolutions dissolve. Big goals are forgotten about, and we go back to the same way we’ve always done it, thinking that we’re just not good at money.
What are the Causes of Being Too Frugal for Too Long?
Stressing over money:
When you are working on your frugality and not something that comes naturally, it’s stressful. The reason you have cut back on spending is that you are working on that bigger money goal.
So the stress of the student loan or credit card debt and then the stress of being thrifty to save every penny is enough to kick you right over the edge.
Failing to Plan:
Planning out where your money will go, also known as a zero-based budget, is a key to peace of mind. Knowing that all bills have been paid and a debt payoff plan has been put into action will ease financial indecisions’ stressors.
Having an emergency fund will take a way the “what if’s” that might come up even when you have a plan for every dime.
We know that expenses are going to come up that we had not thought would. The water heater goes, or the dog needs emergency surgery because he ate the baby’s sock.
Things happen. Plan for the unexpected.
We all love instant gratification—Thats why the world wide interwebs are so popular. Have a question? Ask Alexa. Want same-day delivery? Amazon’s got you covered.
But getting out of debt is not instant. It’s a slow and painful process that takes an intense focus. And it’s super hard.
This is why the debt snowball method works so well. It gives you the psychological boost you need by knocking out those smaller debts and showing you the quick wins.
Using things like coloring printable will also show you the progress you are making – even if its the smallest of steps.
Saying No A Lot:
Sometimes it’s exhausting saying no all the time. “Can’t afford it,” “I don’t have the money,” or “It’s not in the budget” over and over will suck the motivation out of you super fast.
Dave Ramsey talks about not going on vacation or not going out to eat until you have all debt paid off… I. Disagree.
Going to the beach for the weekend or rejuvenating your soul in a cabin in the woods is needed. It might not be a time for a $10,000 trip to Europe, but a few days of rest is ok.
As a wife and a mom, the idea of going to a place to get dinner where I don’t have to plan, prepare, cook, and clean up once in a while makes my soul beam with joy.
The same goes with treating yourselves to the smaller things. If you really love sewing, spending $10 on some new fabric for a happy skirt is therapeutic.
If someone rubbing your feet melts all the stress away, and your husband refuses because his hands hurt, then pay the experts $20 to do it for you.
This does not mean doing these things every week. Maybe you can stretch it to every 4, 6, 8, or 10 weeks. You know you best when you start feeling that need; embrace it in the smallest way possible.
How to Combat Frugal Fatigue?
1 Break It Down
So you want to get out of debt? You’ve gone through all the pre-steps of creating a budget, and you know how much debt you have. $62,976.21 is a LOT of money.
Break it down into smaller chunks.
List it from smallest to largest. Being able to pay off the little debts right off the bat will encourage and excite you to keep going. Seeing quick wins can keep you motivated.
Once those small debts are paid off, break down the big ones into bite-sized pieces. If your Student loan debt is $24,000, then break that down into 6 easy 4K chunks.
Make it fun with a coloring sheet.
2 Be Grateful
Practicing daily gratitude will go a long way not only in your financial life but overall well being. Be grateful for not only where you are in your financial journey but also be grateful for your debt.
The fact that you have debt means you have an abundance. Gratitude to the money lessons learned and the legacy you will leave as you take steps to conserve your financial future.
Then continue to be truly grateful for the food on your table, the clothes on your back, the warmth of your home, and the health and well being of yourself and the ones you love.
When you practice gratitude, there’s no room for any type of negative thoughts.
3 Save a Little, Spend a Little
Make sure you are setting aside a little bit of money for then things you might want that is closer to your needs. For example, set aside money for new sheets or a shower curtain.
Those things keep your spending satiated and the small part of your brain that gets a rush from shopping happy. It will also keep your home looking fresh.
Don’t forget to check out used items at Goodwill, Salvation Army, or consignment shops for these items. You could get them cheaper and support a good cause at the same time.
4 Create a Vision Board
I love doing this. My vision board is beautiful, with a bulletin board and scrapbook paper I had on hand. I made a list of all the things I wanted for the year (and beyond) and added it to the freshly covered board. I even have a light that illuminates it for attention.
Put items on your vision board that you want—more money, happy family, dream vacation, etc. When you are tired of being cheap, remind yourself what your big plans for the future are with that vision board.
5 Enlist your Spouse
Have a conversation with your spouse about feeling fatigued. They might be feeling the same, and maybe you both can come up with an idea to combat it together. Taking a day trip or just going out to lunch might be just enough to make those harsh feelings subside.
Also, reminding yourselves of the big goals you have and chat about what the day will look like when you don’t owe anyone a cent. What will that look like for your family?
Bounce ideas off them for how to combat this fatigue and boredom you might be feeling.
6 Earn More Money
If you’re tired of being super thrifty, maybe earning a little more money would solve that. Starting a side hustle or going through the house and selling stuff might give you that financial boost you’re searching for.
Seeing extra money coming in, even if it’s just $50 for the sole purpose of spending gives a real boost to the spirit.
Or adding 75% of that to your debt and having a little fun with the rest can get you closer to your goals AND allow for some fun.
7 Celebrate Small Wins
When you know that your goals will take some time (maybe even years), it’s hard to stay focused and not get tired of living a frugal lifestyle. But celebrating the small wins will really help keep you motivated.
Consider setting up little fun challenges like seeing how long you can go without heading to the grocery store or spending $50 less this month on those groceries.
Breaking down debt into smaller chunks to cross those out more often will also be another way to find celebrations in the smaller wins.
8 Get Inspired
Listening to podcasts, reading blogs, and watching youtube can really get your inspiration vibes activated again. Finding others going through the same journey and getting tips like these may give you a spark of excitement to keep going.
You might be tired, but finding the drive and the inspiration for a new idea will wake you up to so many other possibilities that you may have forgotten about.
Pinterest is also an excellent place for inspired ideas on saving money.
9 Set Aside Fun Money
Give yourself an allotted amount of money each week to do whatever it is you want. The same goes for your spouse. Decide ahead of time how much each person needs (minimal) to feel ok about this journey.
For my husband and I, we each greatly vary in our fun money needs. I rarely leave the house, so I get $25 every two weeks. This might mean I buy planner stickers or a coffee out with friends once in a while.
He, on the other hand, gets double that. His job takes him from powerplant to powerplant, so most of his money is spent on coffee, sporadic lunches out, or half gallons of ice cream. Ice cream is not my thing, and he is particular about his brand.
10 Practice Self Care
You know you best. There are wonderful ways to practice self-care on a budget. This might mean a walk in the park, dinner with friends, or a quiet afternoon with a good book. It doesn’t have to cost much, but it does need to feed your soul.
Give yourself some grace and spend some time reflecting on how best to take care of you.
And feel free to use your fun money for self care if you so chose.
11 Adjust Your Goals
Maybe your goals are too aggressive. If they feel too big, break them down. Just like those big debt amounts, large goals like pay off the mortgage are big, and they take forever (or so it may seem). Instead, create smaller milestones like pay an extra $5,000 before Fall or pay an extra $1,000 on principle this month.
Also, with the unknown always hiding in the dark, be prepared to put those extra payments on hold during a pandemic if you want to stockpile that money in case of a layoff.
12 Remember the Why
This sounds cheesy, I know. But reminding yourself why you are living the frugal life will inspire you to keep going. Looking back on how far you have come in your financial journey and imagining yourself at the finish line helps so much.
Listening to inspirational stories, podcasts, watching Youtube for those specific moments will put the spring right back into your frugal step once again.
13 Take a Break
It’s ok to take a break from frugal living for a hot second. Having the ability to go on vacation to renew, refresh, and reflect on what this whole journey means is absolutely ok.
Just remember to come back.
14 Stay Flexible
Always stay flexible. I am a frugal living expert. It’s my personality, the way I was raised. Cheapskate blood runs deep. I honestly never knew frugal fatigue was a thing that people felt. I’ve not ever heard of it until recently. Then I started hearing about it more and more.
If staying flexible can help you battle the exhaustion of counting every penny, then by all means, carry on.
Staying flexible means having the reserve cash when something comes up. Not getting upset when your husband “needs” a new snowmobile helmet. Spending the money for new glasses when you can’t see your book anymore.
15 Enlist an Accountability Partner
When I was doing a no-spend challenge years ago, my niece and I were accountability partners. If one of us saw something that we wanted to buy, we would text each other to talk us out of the purchase. We knew the goals each other had and were there to remind the other.
Same goes for being frugal. Find someone who knows your goals and why you want to to live this frugal lifestyle.
Final Thoughts on Overcoming Frugal Fatigue
When you are trying to live a frugal life, you more than likely will end up experiencing frugal fatigue. These tips will help combat those feelings.
Remember, we focus on progression, not perfection. Any little bit that you can save will get you closer to your goals.