Tips to Fight Frugal Fatigue in Becoming Fiscally Fit

March 6th, 2012

What frugal fatigue is

Mental and emotional exhaustion caused by frugality – a constant life focus of counting and pinching your pennies. Frugal fatigue causes feelings of being over-spent, exhausted, depressed without hope of any change. It’s like fighting an uphill battle without any end in sight.

How best to address it

Re-frame the feelings and beliefs that are negative, frustrating and self-defeating. Focus on the benefits of living within your means. Make frugality your choice instead of feeling you “have no choice”; focus on “can instead of can’t”.

You’re not alone in your feelings: In a 2011 survey of the NFCC (National Foundation of Credit Counseling), 2/3 of Americans have experienced it and say they have “no choice” but to put up with it – left tired and frustrated with counting their pennies. Of those surveyed, 21% experienced feeling better with lifestyle and spending changes being both positive and permanent; 5% said they would begin spending more; and 8% never made any changes. The great divide and dichotomy between the two largest groups in the survey– those feeling positive about their frugality vs. those feeling negative–lies in how they perceived the change in lifestyle and what they got as a result.

Self-regulation is the key to positive change and the many rewards in life you reap as a result:

Many people have goals but simply do not know how to reach them whether the goals are related to career improvement, weight loss, health or financial fitness.

In my experience, I can give my clients suitable solutions for their problems and predicaments – sound advice that could forever change their lives – but the unfortunate reality is that only with self-regulation will my clients appropriately implement that advice. That’s true of anyone wanting to make change breaking through barriers of stubborn habits; it takes the self-regulation to pull it through.

For any goal of positive change in lifestyle to be effective, you need to be interested in improving your own well-being and want to control your financial destiny. It is not a matter of fate, but a matter of choice and making life more positively predictable. In the process of making this lifestyle change, we go through a three-step process:

1. Become self-aware by deliberately monitoring your own behavior so this can include counting pennies, tracking expenditures. Becoming conscious is empowering giving you a choice of choosing appropriate behavior vs. unconsciously falling victim to an old less appropriate habit. Emotions are revealed in the process – you begin to see a cause and effect relationship and then have the power to change it.
2. Evaluate how the behavior affects your sense of self – feel healthier, more proud, more energetic vs. more tired, frustrated. Help yourself with some positive aids like taking a few minutes to make note of the positive actions that made you feel good and proud that day followed by three things you’d like to try again to address with better results. This step gives you the self-empowerment and feeling that you can have a sense of self-control with positive results vs. a feeling of hopelessness that change for the better is not possible.
3. It’s a simple process of changing behavior until the desired effect is realized but you have to know and focus on the desired effect. Decide upon an action plan for resolving your financial issues. In your plan, you will have to deliberately monitor the results in order to appraise the effects – checking along the way for any necessary changes in the action plan. The key issue here is your new sense of understanding the rewards of the change frugality brings and how you feel as a result.

This whole change process would be a lot easier if we lived in a culture that reinforced and rewarded frugality. We have been a culture of great spenders, living on credit putting off until tomorrow what we should really do today. Our habits are set and it’s more challenging to climb uphill than to coast effortlessly in denial of what lies ahead. But there is no choice today; no one is letting us glide by any more without paying our way in current time. Rules are changing; personal responsibility and self-regulation are the critical competencies of today for being financially savvy and secure. In my experience, it’s all about self-awareness, self-regulation and ultimately making your own rewards. No one is handing it out. If they do, beware as it’s not free – you’ll have to pay and pay even more tomorrow than today.

It’s no mystery once you take the blinders off and become aware and accountable to yourself. You can make positive change and feel better like the 21% and have a different life or you can deny reality and find yourself in the fiscal rat race and depression of a continual uphill battle of guilt, sense of failure and a depressing future. It’s up to you to make it happen by fighting the frugal fatigue and conquering it. Fatigue eventually becomes a sense of empowerment that you got through it and conquered your challenges.

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