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Frugal Fatigue

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by a journalist, Marcie Geffner for her article for on - "Peppy Ways to Fight Budget Burnout". The conversation was very interesting and in fact she used a few ideas I shared with her in her article. Budget Burnout is something I have had to address with my clients frequently as it's a phenomenon that raises its ugly head at almost every home. We don't need to have a national recession to feel it, all we need is to look at our own household’s budget and at times, the fatigue and burnout soars.

Today I want to address it more intently and hopefully help you in recognizing it, suggest ways to address it and then how to deal with it so that it remains under control.

Pinching pennies

Whether you call it frugal fatigue or budget burnout, the sense that you've simply had enough of counting your pennies, is a feeling rote with guilt, disgust, anger and sometimes even overwhelming fear. You know that you can't afford to buy that something, but on the other hand, you are simply tired of feeling that you are once again denying yourself. How do you maintain composure at this juncture?

First, stick to a budget. It's impossible to know what you can or can't afford if you don't have a budget. As I have said many times before, you have to know how much income is coming in and where that money is going. Whether it's towards fixed bills that have to get paid each month, or discretionary spending that can be changed each month, you have to know what your balance sheet looks like..

Second, recognize your fatigue. Reward yourself for having this budget and being aware of what you can and can't spend. This is so important; recognize your winning formula that you are at this burnout stage because you are living within a budget. You may not like it right now but at least you have a budget that you have worked and adhered to all this time. Prepare to reward yourself for that accomplishment.

Third, reward yourself (within limits). Once you recognize that you are in fact burnt out from being so frugal and disciplined, give yourself a temporary stay from the process. Decide on that one item, event or splurge that will simply make your day and reinvigorate you for the time being. Whether it's a shopping spree at the mall, buying that new piece of furniture or fixing a leaking bathroom fixture, you have to find something that will make you feel good BUT allow for that something only within your financial budget. I know it seems like I am speaking out of both sides of my mouth here. On the one hand I am saying reward yourself on the other within a budget. What I mean is that if you are about to go on a shopping spree as your reward, that doesn't mean taking your credit card and max'ing it out - NO!! Take let's say $250 out of the bank and go and buy yourself anything you want. However, when the $250 is spent, the party is over and you are not allowed to take any more cash out. You therefore, better make sure that spending spree is on items you absolutely love and want.

Keeping this reward process in check is vital to replenishing your soul and reinvigorating yourself to get through another month of frugality and budgeted spending. It's OK to feel bad, angry or flat out sick and tired of the process of budgeting, use these moments of rewards to help get through it. You also have to remember to keep things in perspective. We live in a country that protects our personal freedom, rights and liberties. If we can't get another 10 pairs of shoes, or upgrade out kitchen right now, we have to remember that there are citizens of this world who have nothing in comparison to us. We are currently watching societies around the world where people are in the streets fighting for justice and rights that we here in the US have been taking for granted for years. Frugal fatigue may feel bad, but how lucky are we that we can deal with them, recognize that they may be temporary and still be able to do something about it. Stay positive, proactive and in line and you'll see that this ominous feeling of doom will lift and your hard work to stay within a budget will pay off.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individuals. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.

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