Frugal Fatigue: How to Beat It

“I’m so tired of being frugal.” This is a sentence that so many people say to themselves at the end of every month. You’ve been practising delayed gratification (not buying and doing without) for so long that you’ve developed frugal fatigue.

And that can be a problem if you don’t fight back.

What is frugal fatigue? It’s when you’re tired of stretching every penny or just can’t seem to save money anymore. Even though you know it’s the right thing to do. You want what everyone else has without thinking about how it will affect your future finances.

Constantly pinching pennies is exhausing, believe me! You get to the point where you just don’t want to be frugal at all!

If this sounds like you, then it’s time to fight back. Frugal fatigue is a real thing and the signs may be more obvious than you think. We will discuss what frugal fatigue is, how to spot it in yourself and ways to beat it!

What is frugal fatigue?

When you have frugal fatigue it means that you are tired of spending very little money and stretching every penny.
You are tired of being frugal, of having such a tight budget, of feeling like you cannot afford to buy the things everyone else does.

What causes frugal fatigue?

Frugal fatigue can be caused by many different things but most of them are down to you and your mindset.

You want or you need to be frugal, so you set up your finances to be as frugal as possible. And it works, for a while. Then the tiredness creeps in.

It’s a hard slog being completely frugal every single second of the day. These are the main reasons why you get tired of being frugal:

Unrealistic financial goals

You have set up very rigid financial goals that are just not achievable. If you don’t review them regularly then it is only a matter of time before your frugal lifestyle begins to fail and you feel like quitting altogether.

You need to be realistic with what you can achieve financially, especially if there are things in life that you cannot live without. For instance: chocolate!

unplanned expenses keep appearing

One of the most frustrating things is when extra expenses keep appearing and you haven’t got a financial back up like a good emergency fund. You feel like you may never get out of debt or save enough money for your dream retirement if this keeps happening.

You obsess over spending money more than you ‘should’

You’re very frugal with your money but you cannot help thinking about how much better off you could be if only you spent a little less here and there.

You think that you are not doing enough. Are still frittering your money away even though the rational part of your brain says you are being careful.

Related post: The 3 Biggest Mistakes People Make Trying To Be Frugal

You stress over your frugal lifestyle and saving money every day

Constantly thinking about money and how much you do or don’t have in your bank account is exhausting. You cannot stop stressing over financial problems even when there are none because it has become a habit to worry.

These are just some causes for frugal fatigue, but you can easily see how tiredness can set in if you constantly feel like you don’t have control over your financial situation and future.

Vector of woman holding child looking at laptop and so tired of being frugal.

what are the signs of frugal fatigue?

Frugal fatigue is often hard to spot at first. It starts out as little thoughts that you can easily ignore or brush off. Like “ugh I don’t want to eat leftovers again tonight”, or “I need new clothes, this outfit just isn’t cutting it anymore”.

These little one off thoughts then grow until there is no doubt you have a problem. More tell tale signs of frugal fatigue are:

  • finding it hard to be happy with frugal living and sticking to your bare bones budget
  • feeling tired and grumpy a lot, especially when other people suggest spending money on things you know you don’t really need
  • you have the urge to go on a wild spending spree even though you on a strict budget
  • you feel deprived, like you are trapped in a life of poverty while your friends enjoy small luxuries and are planning their dream vacation
  • not being able to relax because you always have money on your mind, no matter what else is going around you at the time

How to identify when you’ve become tired of living frugally

It is easy to spot frugal fatigue in others but learning how to spot it in yourself can be difficult.

You need to honestly think about whether you are truly happy with your current frugal habits and financial situation. Or if there are little thoughts that keep creeping up all the time, like ‘I could do better than this’, ‘I should be spending less money’.

If you feel like you should be doing better then frugal fatigue is probably setting in and you need to take the necessary steps before it gets out of hand.

Vector of woman lying gof sofa because she has frugal fatigue.

What does frugal living mean?

When you are living frugally it means that you spend your money on what is important to YOU, not just because something might be considered ‘popular’ or socially acceptable.

Living frugally does not mean scrimping and saving every penny though; there is no point getting rid of all the fun things in life like chocolate! It simply means being smart with how you spend your time, energy and money.

Are you too frugal?

Are you worried that money is becoming an obsession for you? Finding it difficult to stay motivated about your savings goals and even frugal living?

Have you stopped having a social life or even doing something enjoyable in your spare time, just to to save a few dollars more money?

Then yes, you probably have tipped over from enjoyable frugal living to being too extreme. And this will have given you a dose of frugality fatigue!

Why is extreme frugality bad?

Being extremely frugal isn’t bad in of itself. When your back is to the wall and you have a very strict budget, being extremely frugal can make all the difference. The difference between keeping on budget or going into debt.

However there is always a flipside. When you become so obsessed with saving money that it has a negative effect on your life, that’s extreme frugality gone too far.

Excessive worry about spending even the smallest amount of money can be detrimental to both your personal and professional relationships, as well as being mentally draining.

There comes a point when living frugally becomes more of a problem than an achievement. And this is a warning sign that you should take stock of your financial situation. See if it’s time to be more lenient with yourself when it comes to money.

Is being frugal healthy?

Yes and no.

Yes, when taking control of your spending. It’s an empowering feeling that everyone who has just begun their journey into the world of personal finance should experience.

No, when it becomes a problem and makes your life difficult. However if you can take some simple steps to get back on track then frugality will be good for both your finances and overall happiness levels!

Vector of woman getting into debt because she got sick and tired of being frugal.

10 Ways to fight frugal fatigue syndrome

1. add fun money to your current budget

My favorite tip to help you overcome frugal fatigue is to set aside some money in your budget to spend on a small reward. Maybe go out for dinner with your partner and kids one weekend? Or buy yourself an expensive coffee from the posh café down the street.

Take a look at your budget and think about where you can cut back a little to create some mad money. Money that you can spend however you please without feeling guilty. Whatever is going to help you to stay motivated.

Related post: How To Save Your Marriage From Constant Arguments With Fun Money

2. change your budget

To live frugally yet avoid frugal fatigue, something has to change. Create a new budget that reflects the different perspective you are aiming to adopt.

Tweaking a tight budget so you can stop feeling deprived might mean cutting back on your clothing budget. Or pay down your credit card debt slower than you had planned. Just remember if it’s not working, don’t be afraid of change!

3. Create achieveable short term goals

To avoid frugal fatigue it’s important to set yourself a few achievable short term goals. These will help you stay motivated and feeling positive about delaying gratification for most of the things you want, rather than negative and trapped in poverty.

Not only that but by setting attainable short term targets you’ll feel like you are achieving something too! This is in itself rewarding and will make a big difference to keeping your motivation in high gear.

Related post: 6 Medium Term Financial Goals You Should Have

4. Reevaluate your long term goals

Many of us set long term goals to make the most of our hard earned money. Goals such as becoming debt free or achieving financial freedom.

And sometimes we forget that while goals are great, at the same time everyday life still has to happen. We are not robots who can spend nothing until all our goals have been achieved.

Reevaluating long term goals may be just the thing you need to keep you being the frugal person you want to be. It might be helpful to adjust them slightly so they are still attainable, but perhaps more realistic given where you are right now.

Instead of a plan to pay big bucks off your debt every single month, reduce this slightly. If you have a savings goal to fully fund your emergency fund with 6 months of expenses in 12 months, increase that to 18 months.

Vector of financial dreams to aim for.

5. create A vision board of your ideal financial future

One of the most powerful tools that you can use to keep money problems at bay is a vision board. A personal finance vision board is used in the same way as any other vision board.

Digital or paper based, think about your financial future, what you want it to look like. Write down all your dreams and goals on it as well as photos and words representing those goals.

  • How much money do you want in your savings account? Write it down.
  • Do you want more money in your grocery budget so you can buy good food all the time? Write it down!
  • Do you want to purchase your own home or pay off your mortgage early? Get those pictures and thoughts down.

Once completed, your vision board can help you when you get the urge to spend money you don’t have right now. It can help you stick to the frugal life you have decided upon.

6. start a gratitude journal

We all know that gratitude is a powerful tool to help us keep motivated and positive. So why not set up a simple gratitude journal?

In it write down three things you are grateful for every day, no matter how small or big they might be. This can include your health, family and friends.

But you can also get more specific, you might be grateful that you stuck to thrift stores when you went shopping. Or that you managed to save money on something you had to buy by finding a coupon.

By keeping track of the things we are grateful for and writing them down daily, we not only keep ourselves motivated but also find plenty of other reasons to love frugal living and money saving.

Related post: 33 Powerful Money Affirmations To Attract Abundance

7. create time to treat yourself

Taking time to treat yourself is important. If you’re constantly scrimping and saving it can be hard to remember that we need a break from this sometimes too!

Create time for treats, no matter how small they might seem to you or other people.

  • Take the time to soak in the bath with candles and bubbles.
  • Enjoy your hobbies – if that’s reading books or baking cupcakes, enjoy them!
  • Take an online yoga class – just 20 minutes can make you feel more energised and focused.

Treating ourselves does not mean spending lots of cash on expensive stuff. Just taking the time to BE, instead of DOING is good.

Vector of woman happy about her financial goals.

8. celebrate your financial achievements

No matter how small your achievements are, they deserve to be celebrated. And by doing so you can help beat frugality fatigue back down.

When we set out to have a frugal lifestyle and save money it can be easy to get discouraged when the savings are not adding up as quickly as you would like.

Instead of getting down about this, find a way to celebrate even the smallest financial wins in your life. This will keep you motivated and give you confidence to keep going with your budget. To pay that large credit card bill bit by bit.

Small wins can take many different forms. Maybe it’s shaving $20 off the grocery bill this month or getting rid of an overdraft on one of your bank accounts.

Celebrate these victories in some small money saving way. This will not only make you feel good about your current progress, but it can also help give you a boost to keep going and achieve even bigger goals!

9. Embrace and enjoy the frugal lifestyle

When we begin to cut back on our spending and live frugally it can feel like a sacrifice.

However, the sooner you embrace frugal living as your own – rather than something that is imposed upon you by someone else – the easier it will be for you to enjoy all of its benefits!

If constantly saving every spare penny feels like hard work then you will most likely burn out.

But if you take the time to find joy in it, no matter how small that might be – then this process becomes much more bearable and even fun!

10. Have a financial irresponsible week

It might sound a bit counterintuitive but having a week where you do not think about your finances at all can be a good thing. Not something to do on a regular basis of course.

But when you are tired of being frugal all the time, it can make a huge difference if you just take a step back and stop thinking about finances, budgeting and debts.

When was the last time you had a week where you did not have to worry about the weekly food shop, rent or martgage payments, bills and other expenses all draining your checking account?

Take time to enjoy experiences, not just material possessions. Have a game night with friends, take a walk on the beach, visit a national park, enjoy good food, good company and relax!

Vector of man suffering from frugal fatigue and bored with saving money.

Stop the tired of being frugal feeling

You might just be sick and tired of being frugal. Everyone wants a break from their lifestyle at some point or another so don’t beat yourself up about it too much.

You can fight frugal fatigue syndome by taking a step away from your budget and spending some time doing something that you enjoy.

Take the pressure off yourself when it comes to constantly scrimping and saving. Spend some time catching up with friends or family about things other than finances.

It will help take some mental weight off your shoulders without having too much impact on your savings goals in the long term.

Having the odd treat now and again is perfectly fine. But don’t go over board as that can lead to financial problems and a lot of stress. Which of course defeats the object of being frugal in the first place!

How do I become less frugal?

When you are tired of being frugal all the time, it can make a huge difference if you just take a step back and look at the big picture.

You might find that you’re actually on a great path to financial success, and that taking a break from being frugal for a short while is no big deal.

Problems can arise when the expectations you have of yourself, or others expect of you, to continue living the way you do all the time.

Be aware that, just like going on vacation once in awhile helps refresh your mind and body, taking a break from being frugal is healthy too.

In order to actually take the time off, though, you have to prepare yourself for that possibility in your mind first. Otherwise it can be very difficult when someone else suggests doing something you’ve previously always said no to.

You will feel guilty if they suggest it. Even though you know that just having fun for a few hours could actually be extremely beneficial to your mental state.

So what can you do in order to break out of the frugal fatigue cycle? Create an imaginary scenario where someone else does suggest going somewhere or doing something extravagant together with them.

See how good it makes you feel, and then try to focus on that feeling when you do have a chance to take a break from being financially strict.

Financial vector about money

Save money and beat frugal fatigue

Becoming tired of being frugal all the time is a common phenomenon. You may not be able to avoid it, but you can definitely fight back!

We’ve talked about how to overcome frugal fatigue and learned that it is a normal reaction when you are doing so much for so little.

It’s okay if this happens. The important thing is to know what causes these feelings and with a little creativity and some fresh thinking, you can work your way out of it. 

All these steps should help restore balance and lead to less feelings of stress about your finances. You don’t have to give up on your budget or rush out and try to earn extra money.

Always remember, you can’t be careful with your cash day in day out, month in and month out. What matters is feeling good about yourself financially, whether that means loosening the purse strings or tightening them up.

Remember to cut yourself some slack. You need a balance between depriving yourself and spending all of the time so that you don’t burn out.

Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!

Pinterest image of frugal fatigue.
Pinterest image of being sick and tired of being frugal fatigue.

Last Updated on 25th September 2021 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

4 thoughts on “Frugal Fatigue: How to Beat It”

  1. I hadn’t heard of frugal fatigue before. It makes sense. I didn’t resonate with some of the symptoms, I took that as good sign! I do incorporate some of these suggestions with short term, long term, and mad money goals. My big dreams are a financial destination but I want to enjoy the journey too!

    • Hi BLL! It’s great if you’re not feeling the fatigue, for sure. Frugal living is definitely a journey, not a destination so being able to enjoy your life, while still saving money for your big, bold goals is essential. Good luck with achieving your dreams and thanks for stopping by!

    • Hi DD. You’re right it is tough, especially when you have to be frugal because your budget is so tight with so much to pay out for. Tiny, cheap treats (ideally free) can keep you going until your finances ease a little. But it can be a long haul. Thanks for stopping by!


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