Are you tired of being frugal all the time? Does saving those pennies feel like a ton of effort for a tiny return? Do you ever want to just give up saving and go on a wild spending spree?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, you could be experiencing Frugal Fatigue. What’s Frugal Fatigue? — The tiredness an individual can develop from maintaining an extremely frugal lifestyle.
Well, today’s post is dedicated to everyone out there feeling a little Frugal Fatigue….Mr. Tako is here to help!
No kidding guys, saving money takes a lot of effort. Instead of extreme convenience, a frugal lifestyle takes a conscious effort to avoid convenience. In exchange, we save money.
If you’re anything like me, you do all kinds of stuff to save money. Instead of eating-out, you cook meals at home. You line-dry your laundry. Instead of buying books online, you borrow from the library. Maybe you DIY home or auto repairs. Perhaps you chop wood for heating…
Any money saving technique you can think of — it takes effort. Sometimes a HUGE amount of effort for just a few dollars.
You know what? Nobody ever said financial independence was going to be easy! In a world completely addicted to convenience, having to put forth extra effort means you’re doing something right!
I’ve been there….I really have. At times, frugality just feels like hard work. I would occasionally wonder if it was all worth it.
Now, from the other side of the fence, I have to say — Yes, it is absolutely worth the effort!
So how do we overcome this feeling of fatigue and carry on saving?
1. Find A Medium Pace
It’s important to realize that, like anything, frugality can be taken WAY too far — You could forgo heat in the winter to save money. You could use junk mail for toilet paper. The meals you prepare could be optimized for monetary efficiency only, not flavor.
You could utilize every waking moment to save money….and in the end, you’ll be exhausted. Eventually you’d give-in to frugal fatigue.
That’s why I’m an advocate for a Goldilocks approach to frugality: Not too much. Not too little. Just enough frugality.
How do you know if you have your frugality dialed to “just enough”? I personally look for two things: A good savings rate (around 50%), and a pace you’re happy to sustain for decades.
Why a decades? — Well, because you’re going to be saving for a LONG time. Being able to live happily with that level of frugality is key. Inevitably, you’re going to be saving money for so long, those frugal behaviors eventually become like habits. More than likely they’re going stick with you for the rest of your life.
So unless you like wiping your butt with junk mail, find a frugal pace that’s going to work long-term.
Are you beginning to tire of all the money saving techniques you’ve had in place for years? Did it use to be fun, but now it’s all just work? Maybe it’s time you “mixed things up” a bit.
When frugality is fresh, and new, it feels “fun”. But after enough repetition, any “fun” can easily turn into “work”. After you’ve been at it for years, the familiarity transforms it into a chore.
So mix things up! Try out new money saving techniques. Or switch frugal tasks with your spouse. Retire some old frugal strategies and adopt new ones. Variety is the spicy of life!
You could even try giving yourself a new frugal challenge once a month to keep things different and interesting!
3. Non-Monetary Benefits
When frugality has got you down, remember: Frugality isn’t only about the money. There’s a load of non-monetary benefits to all kinds of frugal activities:
- Cook meals at home instead of eating-out means you’re eating healthier.
- Biking or walking to work instead of driving means you’re keeping fit, and reducing carbon emissions at the same time.
- Buying used instead of new means you’re keeping trash out of the landfill.
- Handling a home-DIY project means you’re learning valuable skills for the future.
- And so on!
There’s tons of examples where frugality also has good “side benefits”. The point is: Frugality improves our lives in more ways than financial ones. Remind yourself about all those side benefits when feeling a little fatigued. It’s not just about money!
You may just find yourself even more dedicated to frugality when you remember the extra reasons of why it’s great!
4. Review Your Goals And Successes
Humans enjoy doing what they’re good at. The feeling of success and skillfulness keeps us motivated. When we’re good at something, we do more of it. With continued practice we even improve, which further feeds that positive cycle.
Conversely, the things we’re not good at, we don’t like to do. We avoid them instead. The lesson here is — keep frugality on a positive track!
A great way to avoid frugal fatigue is to simply show yourself how great your doing: regularly check frugal progress against your financial goals.
I do this once a month in a spreadsheet and then post the results in my regular dividend and expenses post.
Keeping track of progress helps visualize your success — Look at how much money you’ve saved! Maybe you planned to save $10k/year and you’ve already blown past that. Congratulations! That’s going to feel pretty good when you first see it!
Keep this positive feedback-loop going and you might suddenly find frugality an enjoyable endeavor!
5. Stop Comparing
Honestly, the hardest part of frugality is our own absurd expectations. We constantly compare ourselves against our friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors….people who might not actually BE frugal at all.
When your neighbor buys that new Porsche, do you feel a little bit jealous? You just might. But does that make any sense? He’s not even trying to save money. He bought his car on credit.
Do we compare ourselves to starving people in the poorest parts of Africa? How about the working poor in Asia? It’s unlikely! They’re the wrong comparison set!
It’s the same with friends and family — why would you continue to compare yourself against them? Your life has changed. Stop comparing yourself to spendy people!
When we compare ourselves to others, we inevitably set expectations. Most of those expectations are not going to be reality for a frugal person.
6. Splurge A Little
OK, last but not least is — “Splurge A Little”. Yes, you heard me right! Spend some money! Sometimes overcoming Frugal Fatigue is just a matter of loosening the purse strings a little to “have some fun” once in while.
I’m not saying “spend with abandon” of course! I’m saying, find a little area of your life where splurging a little extra money is going to bring you a lot of happiness.
Sometimes we can take saving a little too far. If you’re constantly pushing to save, you could be pushing yourself into a unhappy direction. That’s a dangerous place to be. Humans aren’t unfeeling machines. You need to enjoy life too! Frugality should be about gaining happiness, not removing it.
So find yourself that little luxury that makes you happy, and then allow it.
No, not something you merely like…find something you absolutely love. Maximum happiness from dollars spent is what we’re looking for!
Maybe your thing is coffee like FrugalWoods — Allow yourself to buy that high-end coffee. Enjoy every second you drink it.
Maybe you love eating out at new restaurants, like Joe over at RetireBy40. Whatever your passion, let yourself do what you love! You’ll enjoy your frugal life more!
But plan for it. Manage the expense to a reasonable level…one that fits with your frugal goals.