How often do you get frustrated when you’re trying to live a frugal lifestyle? Sometimes you just wish for a splurge, but you know you can’t afford one. Other times you’re just tired of always thinking about ways to spend less. What do you do when you’re tired of being frugal?
It’s not always easy. There are so many temptations to break your budget, whether it’s hearing from friends and family the fun things they’ve been doing or what they’ve been buying, or the commercials you can hardly avoid on television and online. There are also frugal living traps you may have fallen into that are sabotaging your efforts and making your life more difficult than it needs to be.
Fortunately, there are many simple ways to cope.
1. Allow small splurges.
What is it you miss most? Is there a way to get it more cheaply?
You may miss going out to see movies, for example. Movie ticket prices have gone up quite a bit, and don’t always fit well into a frugal budget. If you’re lucky enough to have a discount movie theater near you, however, you may be able to see movies somewhat later than others for quite a bit less. There’s a theater in our area, for example, that has $3 tickets, far more affordable than what we’d pay elsewhere.
You can also think about the little treats you enjoy and set a budget for it. If you miss chocolate, for example, you may be able to get chocolate chips and put them in the freezer. Nibbling just a couple rather than having an entire candy bar can save you money so long as you have the self control to not eat too many a day.
The challenge is being certain the splurges are worth it. My husband and I have often gone back and forth on whether a splurge is worth it on our current budget. It’s not always easy to decide.
For example, he wanted to get a year pass to Joshua Tree National Park a few months ago. I felt he should wait, as our youngest was going into fourth grade, and there’s the free National Parks pass for kids in that age group. Sure, he’d miss out on hiking there for the spring, but he’d get a year of access shortly for free.
We love hiking, or more to the point, climbing around on the rocks at Joshua Tree. Once we have a pass, the only cost is the gas to get there, and it’s not that far.
We decided on waiting. Now that school has started, we can get the free pass, and head out there whenever we want once the weather cools down enough. Do NOT go to Joshua Tree when the weather is really hot. It’s just not as much fun.
2. Put the things you want on a wish list.
While birthdays and gift giving holidays can be expensive if you exchange gifts with a lot of people, it’s also a good time to let people know what fun things you’d still like to do.
If you miss going out to eat, suggest gift cards to your favorite restaurant as a gift when you have a birthday or Christmas coming up. This may not feel as personal as some people would like, but if that’s what you want more than whatever else someone would buy you, it’s a good gift.
I’ve noticed that my teens now almost exclusively give gift cards to friends because that’s what the friends say they want. It’s also what they usually ask their friends for. It makes a lot of sense for kids without a lot of money, just as it makes sense for adults who have a tight budget.
Add the things you really want but don’t fit into your budget to a wish list. These won’t always be things that someone will buy for you, but you might be surprised at what people can manage when they know you really want something.
3. Look at free ways to get what you want.
It’s amazing what you can get for free sometimes. You don’t always have to spend money to get good things.
Libraries are wonderful if you miss getting new books to read, for example. Just how wonderful depends on the libraries in your area and the selection they have in the types of books you like to read. Many libraries are networked to others in your area, and you may be able to order books from other locations.
If you have a Kindle or other ebook reader, you should be able to check out ebooks from your library as well.
See if there’s an active Freecycle group in your area. You can ask for things you’d like to get. I’ve seen people in my local group ask for things like exercise bikes and get them.
There are also groups on Facebook for people to give away free stuff.
If you have kids, there are all kinds of free and cheap activities you can do with them throughout the year. Some are even fun without the kids.
4. Review your financial goals.
You’re being frugal for a reason. It can help you deal with the frustration of being frugal if you remind yourself why you’re going through all that. Try to renew your motivation when you’re tired of being frugal.
Are you saving so that you can pay down credit cards or other debts? Consider the benefits of getting rid of those. They may include:
- No longer living paycheck to paycheck.
- Having more money for fun things.
- Being able to save money up for the big things you want, such as a car, home, or vacation.
- Less stress when you don’t have to worry about money so much.
If you’re being frugal because it’s the only way you can pay all your living expenses, think about how your situation would change if you weren’t managing your money so carefully.
If you have solid goals you’re trying to reach, make a vision board to remind you of those goals. Find pictures of the things you want to have in your life, such as:
- A new home.
- New car.
- Places you want to vacation.
- Things you’d like to get for your family.
- Saving up to help your kids go to college.
- Saving for your retirement.
Use words and add motivational sayings to your vision board. Have fun with it.
Take some time to reconsider your goals if you’re often tired of being frugal. It’s possible that you’re trying too hard.
If you set goals that are too hard to reach, of course you’ll quickly tire of reaching for the impossible. Goals should be challenging, but they shouldn’t be impossible or close to it.
5. Find ways to earn more money.
If you want to make a big difference in your financial situation in the long run, being frugal isn’t the answer. Earning more money is.
There are many ways to go about this.
The most obvious is to get a raise at work. Some jobs give raises as a part of your annual review, while other jobs make it much more difficult to get a significant raise.
If possible, try to negotiate a better raise. This won’t work well in all situations but may be worth a try.
If a raise isn’t possible, a change of employers or careers may help you to earn more money. Even you don’t earn more right at the start, finding a position that has a greater potential for earning more money and advancing in your career can be a smart move.
Another alternative is to start a side gig. Lots of people do this now. There are all kinds of options. Sometimes you’ll even earn more from your side gig than at your regular job.
Many people will start a home business, such as a blog or making a product to sell online. This can be a lot of fun, although you won’t always earn money at it.
The thing to remember is that there are always ways to cope when you’re getting tired of being frugal. It doesn’t have to be a miserable process. If things aren’t working the way you hoped they would, take some time and find a way to make things better.