Those of you who are also living a long term thrifty life, either to pay off a debt or because times are tight will be very very familiar with frugal fatigue. This affliction sets in sometime after the initial enthusiasm and gusto of taking financial control has worn off.
Making a decision to live a thrifty lifestyle is almost fun at first. The feeling of taking control of any problem is always empowering and a bit thrilling, if a little bit scary. (Writing a blog about it adds an extra frisson!)
The savings we made in those first few months were huge. We had spent years not paying very much attention to where our money was going. Just by making an effort to take notice, removing non essentials, shifting some debts around, finding the cheapest utilities and changing where we shopped instantly reduced our spending by hundreds per month. You can do the same by visiting the Money Saving Expert site and following the money makeover tips.
But, as each month passes, the savings to be made get progressively smaller. You begin to look at ways to save pennies, and to postpone necessary purchases until times are better. Little things start to get you down. The fact that you have denied yourself all month and still not managed to make an overpayment on a debt. Arguing with your partner as they really want to buy something you believe is non-essential, and because you are secretly resentful that they want to buy that lovely thing for themselves rather than asking if you’d like something. Functioning irons and vacuum cleaners are reclassified as luxury items. Having to say no to social occasions. It all starts to feel like too much hard work, and you long to be able to blow some money on some frippery. These frustrations build until you just feel ground down and a bit miserable.
Then to make you feel a bit shittier, summer arrives, and facebook steps up. Friends post all their lovely smiley holiday pictures from far flung destinations, or let you know they’re off to a spa day, because they’ve been working really really hard and they’re worth it. And slowly and almost imperceptibly you begin to get really grumpy at them instead of pleased for them. This is probably the worst feature of frugal fatigue. Resentment. You refuse to press ‘like’ on their status updates; silent protest at their rampant bragging about all the money they have to throw away.
And this is not good or healthy. I was reading a Mummy blog this week, and she introduced me to the concept of Perspectacles. Wearing perspectacles allows the wearer to see things as they really are, and to take the wider picture into account.
My Perspectacles are not designer, on the contrary, they have been fashioned from recycled tin cans. Nevertheless, as soon as I pop them on I can see the following.
1. My lovely gorgeous friends are completely entitled to go on holidays. I too have been on holidays. They’re great! By getting this financial crap out of the way now, I am ensuring that I will be able to afford some kick-ass holidays in the future. Especially once we’ve jettisoned a few kids! (Too dear to take with). When I do go on my kick-ass holiday, I promise not to brag about it on facebook.
2. Not having enough money to go on a fabulous holiday or buy some new clothes for a couple of years is not the same as never having enough money to go on any holiday or buy clothes. There is an end to this. If all goes to plan we will be straight again this time next year. This, actually, makes us really really fortunate. Some people are trapped in real actual poverty for real, for ever, and watching the pennies is not some wussy lifestyle choice.
3. Overspend this month was due to a hefty dentist bill. I can afford to pay the dentist. Which means I will continue to have teeth. This is a good thing although the root planing was not a good thing. It was as unpleasant as it sounds.
4. Having to watch the pennies still feels loads better than the relentless nagging anxiety and stress caused by worrying about running out of money entirely. I am in control. No alarms and no surprises.
5. The future is bright. Our long term financial forecast is good. This is a relatively short term inconvenience.
Having read this post, I now realise that I sound like a totally spoiled wuss. I am tempted to delete this post altogether so that you continue to believe I am a nice lady and not some spoiled, bitter, resentful old cow. However, I’m going to leave it up, as everyone has moments where we need to put our Perspectacles on. Whether it’s worrying about our bodies, our jobs, our families or our health.
And anyway, perspectacles may well just be the best ever made up thing that should be a real thing EVER!
I’m off to visit the dragons den with two tin cans tied together with garden twine to see if I can make me a million……