What is Frugal Fatigue and How to Fight It

There have been times in in my money-saving journey when I have caved in to frugal fatigue. Put simply, I got sick of living frugally. I got tired of doing the things I knew I should do to save money long-term. Therefore, I splurged. I busted my budget. It may have felt good momentarily but it set me back in the long run. I had to learn how to fight frugal fatigue.

Frugal Fatigue is Like Going Off a Diet

If you aren’t sure what frugal fatigue is, then think for a moment about dieting. Let’s say that you count calories, don’t east sugar, and restrict carbs. You do great at it for awhile. You lose weight. Perhaps you gain energy. It’s all wonderful. But then one day you’re tired, or finding healthy food seems inconvenient, or you just don’t want to deal with counting calories. Instead of sticking to the plan, you go off your diet.

If you just had a tiny splurge, it might not be a big deal. However, that’s not usually what happens. More commonly, you’ll then quit the diet entirely. You’ll think, “well, I’m already over my calories today so I might as well binge.” Then it all tastes so good. Before you know it, the diet is the thing of the past.

Frugal fatigue is like that. Counting calories – or pennies – gets tiring. You don’t want to keep doing it. So, you go off of your money diet. You blow your budget and for a time you don’t care. In fact, you might feel relieved. You have fun. Then your debt starts to creep back up, and you regret giving up on living frugally.

Beat Frugal Fatigue by Changing Your Mindset

Keeping up with this diet analogy, more and more people are recognizing that diets simply don’t work. There’s a whole trend towards Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating. These are lifestyle approaches that help you eat the foods that are good for you without restricting yourself. You don’t give in to quitting the diet because you aren’t on a diet. It’s the same thing with fighting frugal fatigue.

In other words, if your approach to living frugally is to restrict yourself, then eventually you’re going to experience frugal fatigue. Who wants to restrict themselves forever? It’s not the way the human brain works. However, if you view living frugally as a lifestyle change then you’re less likely to fall off the wagon and experience frugal fatigue. It’s all about consistently remembering what frugal living means to you, why you want to do it, and what benefits you get from it. It’s about celebrating the abundance of your life rather than focusing on what you’ve restricted.

5 Easy Ways to Outsmart Money Fatigue

Changing your mindset is key to fighting frugal fatigue. But here are five specific things that you can do to prevent or deal with it when it happens:

  1. Build fun spending into your budget. If you don’t feel restricted, you won’t feel like you have to cheat on your “money diet.”
  2. Keep your scheduled filled with fun, free activities. If you’re lonely, bored, or feel like you have to spend money to socialize then you’re more likely to cave to frugal fatigue.
  3. Boost your income to create “fun money.” You don’t have to change your budget for your existing funds. If you can increase your income a little bit then you can set aside that money for little luxuries.
  4. Review your budget and goals. Maybe you’re being stricter than you need to. Can you let up a little to feel better about your budget?
  5. Consume material that celebrates frugal living. Take time each day to read frugal books and blogs, listen to money-saving podcasts, etc. This reminds you about why you care about this approach to living. It strengthens your resolve.

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