Thursday, February 14, 2008

Being Frugal is Boring: How to Save When the Thrill is Gone

Like a strict diet, living frugally can get old very quickly. At first, there's the initial rush and passion sparked by clipping coupons, shutting off lights and pushing back from the takeout food table. In that early phase, it's so exciting to see household bills decline by huge amounts.

But after a bit, frugal living becomes just another important, but boring ritual of responsible living. You know the drill: brush teeth, go to work, save money. (ZZZZZZZ)

Is it possible to keep the concept fresh? Is it possible to maintain that initial feeling of first frugal love? I'm not sure, but I know boredom is dangerous because it often leads to backsliding and careless spending.

So here's how I'm trying to avoid Frugal Burnout:

  • Goal reminders: I remain motivated by using visual reminders of my goals. These visual cues come from magazine pages featuring pictures of pretty homes, lovely gardens, spa dates and smiling kids. I glance through my clip file at least twice a week.

  • Mental inventory: A mental review of bills outstanding serves as a vaccination against excess spending. It's hard to justify wasting dollars, when the utility bill is due.

  • Count my blessings: When I'm mindful of all of the perks and bonuses in my life, I become especially motivated about maintaining and improving my lifestyle through frugal living.

  • Body maintenance: Plenty of rest, sufficient exercise and a healthy diet help me to keep the spending demons away. I'm more vulnerable to wanton spending when I'm cranky, tired and hungry. Bottom line: when I'm feeling good about myself, I'm less likely to seek thrills through spending.

  • Balance check: Crunching the numbers can cure a potential bout of binge spending.

  • Small bribes: Sometimes a reward of a small cone of rich ice cream, a pretty magazine or some other minor treat will keep me motivated to save money.

  • Write it down: Written goals and daily affirmations provide frugal inspiration. This process works best when I review goals on a daily basis or at least once a week.

  • Fun hobbies: I'm less likely to be bored with frugal living when my life is filled with fun activities: a good book, a craft project or a bit of sports. (Spending money is not a sport!)

  • Be honest: Usually my extreme spending binges are driven by some deeper problem in my life. When I'm unhappy with my work, worried about a rift in a friendship or feeling insecure about my appearance, I'm more likely to spend money as a superficial fix. An honest emotional check-up saves me money.

Sharon Harvey Rosenberg is the author of The Frugal Duchess of South Beach: How to Live Well and Save Money... Anywhere!, which will be published in June of 2008 by DPL Press



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Anonymous said...

Good ideas for sticking with it...
For me, "count my blessings" always puts me back in the right frame of mind to continue towards my goals.
Thanks for the post!

Father Sez said...

Hi, Duchess.

I write down the "why's". Refreshing myself with the "why's" brings back the need or the excitement to continue plodding.