Frugal Fatigue?

After spending more than a year tenaciously watching my spending, saving more than half my net income and trying to maximize every investment dollar, it’s easy to get a little fatigued. I’m only human and after time it does get a little tiring to watch every dollar that comes in and out and constantly plan for an unknown future. I started thinking of ways that I could continue to live frugally but also spice things up a little bit. It’s always important to reward yourself for a job well-done.

If you’re suffering from frugal fatigue, these are three things that might help:

1. Splurge every once in a while

I haven’t splurged once since I started my new frugal living doctrine last summer. I define splurging as spending money freely or extravagantly. How much you spend, and what you spend it on depends a lot on your personal income and where your interests lie. For me, food is one of my biggest pleasures in life. Frugal fatigue starts to set in for me after eating PB&J sandwiches for days on end. Eating great food is pretty high on my list when considering quality of life. I’ve decided that splurging on food I really love every once in a while can drastically improve my mood and cure any temporary fatigue I may be suffering from. I happen to love sushi. I think sushi might just be on the menu this week! What would you splurge on?

2. Take a cheap vacation

After a hard week of work and extensively budgeting every expense, the weekend can be quite relieving. I typically refresh and re-energize myself during the weekend and try to engage in low-cost activities like writing new blog posts, going to the beach, getting more sleep, watching movies and maybe grabbing a pizza. Of course, these activities can feel a little suffocating if you’re repeating them every weekend. Really spice things up by taking a road trip to a new location. Even just checking out a new downtown area an hour or more away from home can feel like a new, exciting experience. You don’t have to go to Tahiti to experience something fun and new.

3. Add a budget line for “fun stuff”

Perhaps you really enjoy live sports events. Maybe off-Broadway shows really light your fire. Life can only be lived once, and you certainly have to make the most of it. I have been rapidly trying to disengage myself from a consumerist lifestyle, but at the same time I don’t think living like a monk is the answer. I don’t currently have a budget line for any “fun stuff”, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea if you can still maintain a high savings rate. Perhaps setting aside $50-$100 per month for a certain hobby or activity that you highly enjoy could make saving fun. If you’re saving 75% of your net income, but you’re miserable then you definitely have to change things up. Having fun along the way is imperative. Life is a journey, and not a destination.

I hope these three ideas help if you are suffering from frugal fatigue.

What do you do to spice things up?

Thanks for reading.

Comments

  1. says

    My favorite way to splurge is with “free money”, or money I made from outside my full time income.

    Sometimes, I save a few dollars from my multiple money making activities, then splurge with those.

    This way, I keep my regular savings rate, but still get to spend some money. Works for me.

  2. says

    Living frugal can be tough. I have a little hobby of collection rare sealed video games. So whenever there’s extra cash I’ll indulge in my hobby.

  3. Anonymous says

    I give myself a short goal, and once I reach that I give myself a “reward” day, either going out to eat, going to the beach, splurging to the tune of 20 or 30 dollars. Ive been averaging reaching my mini goals once a month roughly, so its easy for me to hunker down and make that goal…beach day! woohoo!

  4. says

    “After spending more than a year tenaciously watching my spending, saving more than half my net income and trying to maximize every investment dollar…”

    Dude, you’re a beast. I wish I was this careful with my finances. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still saving close to 50% of pre-taxed income, but I could easily be saving 60%, you know?

    Something tells me my girlfriend wouldn’t be too happy with me if I was any more frugal than I am now. Sounds like you snagged a great girl.

  5. says

    Pig,

    Thanks for stopping by. That doesn’t sound like a bad idea. By “free money”, do you mean money you make online? I haven’t personally made a lot of that, but I can see how that could be used for fun. Great idea man.

    Take care.

  6. says

    Henry,

    Yes…it can be tough to live frugally. Part of the fun for me is the challenge of it all. But it does get to be a grind after a while. Hobbies are great. I personally love online gaming. I purchase a video game for $60 and I can easily get 700+ hours of entertainment out of it. That works out to be around 8 cents an hour for pretty solid fun!

  7. says

    cashflowmantra,

    I do have a budget line for “entertainment”, but I actually rarely use it. I think I have it set at $30/month on my Mint account. I could probably use it a little more often and notice very little in the way of slowed progress. You are right…no fun in saving all your money but going nuts in the process!

  8. says

    Anonymous,

    Great ideas. It’s wonderful, in my opinion, to reward yourself for a job well done. If there is no reward at the end of the tunnel…then you have to ask yourself what’s the point of the journey?

  9. says

    Pey,

    It sounds like you’re doing pretty great with the savings rates! If you can strike a balance by meeting your personal finance goals and still have a great time (not to mention keeping the SO happy) then what more can you ask for?

  10. says

    One way to look at this: do you want to enjoy more of ur younger years or be comfortable in old age. By the way I wrote a new article.

  11. Oculista says

    It is all about equilibrium.

    As well as be want to invest in companies with sustainable competitive advantages and sustainable dividend growth we have to achieve an equilibrium between savings and expenses. This way our plan to financial independence will be sustainable in the long run.

    Too many savings can be as dangerous as too many expenses. In the second case you won’t accumulate enough equities but in the first case you can lost your sanity.

    I also have a question for you Mantra. Imagine the day when your dividend income will represent 50% or more of your salary. Will you raise your saving rate beyond 50% or keep the 50% rate and spend the rest giving you more fun rewards in the short term?

  12. says

    Hey Mantra,
    I was wondering when the rubber band of frugality would finally snap :) Kidding aside, you’re on the right track. Obviously there is a balance to saving and the quality of life – that’s different for everyone. I a little tweaking doesn’t hurt. For example I put $500 away monthly for investing and RRSP loans etc. That is my max and still leaves me money to have a good standard of living.

    PS
    But don’t forget to take $100 once in a while,and hit the town with your girlfriend!

    Cheers

  13. says

    Oculista,

    I agree. Too much of anything in life, even something that is meant to benefit oneself, can be detrimental. It’s always all about balance. I strive for balance every day. I can be a bit extreme in my ways, because I feel like it’s one of the few things that gives me an advantage over others, but it’s always important to remember why it is you’re doing something.

    To answer your question, I’ll continue saving at least 50% of my net income from my paychecks and also continue to reinvest/save my dividends. At that point I’ll be well over 50%, and hopefully closer to 80% or more.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  14. says

    Ninja,

    My rubber band of frugality is infused with titanium. It will never break! :)

    I agree with you. There is little sense in delaying ALL your gratification for a day in an unknown future that is not guaranteed. Living below my means is important to me, but I certainly don’t want to live like a homeless person.

    I also agree with you on the last bit of advice. We actually intend to do such a thing and hit up a great sushi spot in downtown Sarasota this weekend.

    Take care Ninja!

  15. says

    If there’s one thing that cures frugal fatigue for me, it’s heading out to a pub with a couple of friends for some greasy wings and a few draft beer.

    I don’t do it too often, but it’s something that won’t break my wallet and at the same time it helps to blow some steam after a long work week.

    I think splurging at a minimum of once a month is important for ‘preservation of sanity’. Sometimes, ya gotta live life a little.

    My wife and I love to have cheap movie nights at home and pop some popcorn. Sometimes, when new rentals run dry, we’ll head to the $5 bins at Wal-Mart and buy a couple of classic action movies to get us through the weekend.

    Nice post!

  16. says

    TWC,

    I agree. A good basket of wings cheers me right up! That’s one of my favorite foods.

    My splurges usually come on the weekends. During the week I rarely spend money on anything. I eat a lot of cereal, ramen noodles and sandwiches. But on the weekends, I’m a lot more lax. I eat a lot of pizza, wings and we go out to eat sometimes. It makes the weekends something to look forward too! We also now live across the street from the mall/movie theater so it’s just a short walk for a small splurge.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Anonymous says

    Mantra, my man!

    I’m a first-time commenter/long-time reader from Southwestern Ontario. I admire the commitment you’ve placed into executing on your investment strategy and building your online presence. The excellent progress you’ve made in such a short time-span proves that dividend growth investing is a sound philosophy!

    I’m struggling with frugal fatigue at the moment, and use your website as motivation to resist the urge to deviate from my monthly spending budget.

    I target ~50% of monthly savings, but the market’s high valuations and the tax man’s rules usually prevent me from allocating that capital. So, I inevitably sit on the cash and then question why I bother working so hard to save it in the first place! I realize these are common problems we all face as dividend investors, though. Patience is the order of the day.

    Wishing you continued success,

    Colin

    • says

      Colin,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      I appreciate the support. It has indeed been an amazing journey over the last few years. :)

      It sounds like you’re not only suffering from frugal fatigue, but also a little analysis paralysis in regards to sitting on cash. It’s tough right now with the apparent lack of value. It does seem, however, that the market up in Canada has not had as strong of a run-up as our broader market has over the last couple years. Of course, it also didn’t fall as hard during the Great Recession.

      I try to allocate a minimum amount of capital every single month to keep the compounding snowball growing, but only aggressively step-up purchases when I find compelling values.

      Stick with it!

      Take care.

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