Frugal Fatigue: What Is It & How To Overcome It?

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These past few days, I’ve been experiencing something I’ve never felt before: frugal fatigue.

I just feel tired of saving money and pinching pennies all the time.

I want to life life a little and keep wondering about those trips to exotic resorts, those fancy meals at luxurious restaurants, and the beautiful high-end dresses I sometimes see other women wearing in public places.

In other words, I want to have all the good things in life without having to stress about the prices and whether I can save a couple of bucks here and there.

The beginning

That feeling didn’t come out of nowhere. There’s a story to it.

About two weeks ago, Mr. FAF and I talked about buying a bigger, more expensive house in Northern Virginia as our second home and future investment.

The only problem is that we want to buy it by the end of 2019, and we just won’t have enough money for a 20% down payment and associated fee for a $600,000 house.

That means that we would need to borrow at least $500,000 to make the purchase happen.

That got me excited for a week. And then reality set in.

Would I want to sacrifice most of my wants now to pay off the mortgage on our primary residence, continue to save, get ourselves in a bigger debt, and work like a horse to pay it off over the next 10-20 years?

While the thought of owning a valuable piece of real estate is thrilling, it got me jaded about paying off debt.

After all, I’m not really into living in a big house. I spend almost 11 hours in the office and on my commute every day. When I get home from work, I stay a wake for only 4-5 hours before falling asleep.

As you know, when you sleep, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a small or big house if the bed and the temperature are good. At least, that’s how I feel.

In a nutshell, I don’t have a strong desire to move to a bigger house. Maybe it’s just a matter of mindset. I need to set another goal for my frugal living.

Feeling lost

I suddenly felt empty and lost.

When Mr. FAF and I were poor, frugality was a necessity for us to get by. We had to save money to not stress now. Now that we have more disposable income, frugality has become an option.

And since I have more than one option, I started to dream about another option where I can buy more nice things for myself and not have to eat leftover dinners for lunch in the car on a road trip just to save a couple of bucks.

Don’t get me wrong. We still need to save money to up our emergency plan and prepare for the arrival of our baby girl. But maybe we should feel more comfortable splurging here and there.

Related: 10 Expensive Things That Are Worth Buying

Figuring things out

I messaged my close friend and told her about my loss of interest in frugality, hoping to get some advice or perspective from her. I just felt so alone in those thoughts.

My friend and I went to the same college although I was one year ahead of her. She graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and started working at a huge pharmaceutical company up north.

Her husband just finished his residency and has been working as a podiatrist for almost a year. In a nutshell, they make a good income.

We usually talk about our married lives, husbands, in-laws, investment plans, real estate, food, and some random topics.

My friend said that she and her husband live in a one bedroom apartment with one tiny table with two chairs in the kitchen and a small bed. They eat at home and pack their lunch almost every day. They only eat out on Friday and Saturday nights as a date.

Basically, they remain frugal even after her husband started making the big bucks.

However, they’ve traveled to a lot of places, and that’s one area they splurge on. She said it’s an investment in their marriage. Other than that, their lifestyles remain the same as when the husband was doing his residency.

Her advice for me is to maintain a balance, live a little and not worry about saving money all the time. Still feeling lost, I messaged Mr. FAF and told him I was getting tired of being frugal. This is how our conversation went:

Me: I’m tired of being frugal. I want to enjoy life.

Mr. FAF: Sure. Yes we can. Why not? Do you want to go to Costco and Good Fortune tonight?

In my mind, I was like “Costco and Good Fortune again? Don’t we go there almost every weekend? I was thinking more about trips to exotic resorts as a way to enjoy life.”

But instead of sounding like a spoiled wife, I said okay. Sensing the lack of enthusiasm in my response, Mr. FAF continued with his suggestions:

Mr. FAF: No, you don’t need to. I am just suggesting. If you feel tired, I can stop by Costco and Good Fortune.

Me: No, I want to go out.

Mr. FAF: How about eating out tonight?

I could tell he was trying to cheer me up. But I started feeling guilty for making him feel worried about my state of mind and suggested we finish the leftovers at home before they went bad.

Related: What Is It Like Being Married To A Software Engineer?

Feeling grateful

Mr. FAF and I made these dishes together.

In a moment, I felt grateful for Mr. FAF. He was trying to cater to my wants and needs.

I started thinking about what food I’d want if we went out for dinner.

I just finished a big bowl of free Mediterranean food from the previous day at the office. I had my fair share of eating out that day.

Would I feel much happier if we dropped $200 on a fancy dinner instead?

I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to spend that much money on one meal anyway.

Then I started thinking about revamping my wardrobe. I’m on a clothing ban in 2018 and haven’t bought one single item of clothing or accessories this year.

I just saw a video of a girl wearing a pretty outfit on YouTube the night before and wanted the same thing she had. Maybe I was just trying to keep up with the Joneses. But even that new wardrobe would have to wait until after I give birth.

My current budget is $300-400. I will try to get new-to-me clothes at higher-end thrift stores in DC. In a nutshell, I felt the urge to spend money to get out of this frugal fatigue. I didn’t know if it’d make me feel better. But I didn’t want to pinch pennies all the time.


What I realized made me happier that afternoon was the fact that Mr. FAF listened to what I had to say, paid attention to my wants, and tried to accommodate them the best way he knew how: on a budget.

A trip to Costco or Good Fortune (a Vietnamese grocery store) is by no means fancy. A dinner out that day might have cost us $50 at the max. But that’s his way of saying “I care about you.”

We went to Good Fortune that night with our son. I picked out some snacks and drinks (boba matcha green tea powder!) that I’ve always wanted to have but hesitated not to since I wanted to save money.

That made me happy, but only temporarily. It is my husband and my son who show me they care about and love me through their love language is what will keep me happy for the rest of my life.

We are planning a day trip to Chespeake Bay in Maryland this weekend. It will be a day trip so that we don’t have to spend money on lodging. But we will be sure to get a huge seafood platter. My motto for the trip is YOLO on a budget!


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18 thoughts on “Frugal Fatigue: What Is It & How To Overcome It?”

  • There’s nothing wrong with it. Recklessly spending money without planning for the future is bad. But going stir crazy over making an arbitrary number go up isn’t exactly healthy either.

    As a family, you’re in a much better position than my parents were at your age, and they still spent money on overseas trips for the both of us. They just prioritised different areas. Fast forward to now, they have more money than they could ever imagine. (They barely get through 40% of their total income, even with holidays and no limits!)

    I think you’ll be alright, even if you do relax it a bit in areas every so often.

    Don’t think about life so much, that you forget to actually LIVE your life.

    • Wow I’m glad your parents are doing well financially. It’s always tough and inspiring to hear success stories of our parents. You have great examples in your life! 😉

  • You are getting near the end of your pregnancy–your hormones and fatigue are probably affecting your outlook on life. Don’t be too hard on yourself or others. Pamper yourself a little while awaiting the change in your life.

    • Thank you, Carole. I think the hormones might be a factor too since I’ve never felt this way before. Maybe I need to rest more 🙂

  • YOLO on a budget — haha! I think you’re finding a balance between saving for the future and enjoying the now. You work hard and are a good steward of your money, so don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and your happiness. And sometimes happiness comes in the form of seafood platters.

  • Sometimes I feel the same way. While I’m not nearly as frugal as you, we are compared to our neighbors. When I see them with cars and second homes, going out to eat all the time, and buying all the latest stuff, well, it can get old after a while. We could do the same things, but we’d end up saving less money. At the end of the day, I try to keep my eyes on the prize, and make sure I remember what I’m really saving for. The trick is to save with a purpose, and not to save just to save.

    • That’s a great reminder! A goal makes me feel great about making sacrifices at the present. Our goal was to pay off the house and get another one. In a moment, I didn’t see any point in suffering to get into more debt, which got me kinda distressed. I’ve felt so much better about life and money now. Thank you, Luxe! 🙂

    • That’s a great article! I think all the items on your list are reasonable, especially the laptop. I bet Mrs. RB40 must be really happy with the new computer hehe.

      Mr. FAF and I talk about traveling a ton but keep on going frugal/cheap trips @_@ Frugal habits are hard to break sometimes!

  • I think that you guys are too frugal. I am very frugal myself but when it comes to travel l will spent any amount that l can afford to make it happen. I am very happy that l get to travel international every year. If this is something means so much to me then l will always look for ways to save some money here and there. As for purchasing a second house l think you should wait later as you have second baby soon. I just sold my rental house 3 months ago after renting it for 9 years. Even l has property management helping, l am still taking care of the repair so to save some money. If you have some money on the side maybe you can put into some safer investments now like CD. Afew years later if you are still interested in buy a second house then you can going ahead and do it.

  • You know sometimes it’s a post like this that makes me wonder about myself. In reality I buy what I want when I want it. But I realize my true wants aren’t that big if I sit and actually think about it. I don’t think in terms of bans or even I can’t go out today due to money. It’s more would I enjoy what I cook today more then what I eat out? Ie frugal is less a conscious decision rather then an outcome of truly evaluating does the expenditure provide me with value. In that context I guess I can’t contemplate frugality fatigue.

  • Like you said, life is all about balance. And finding the right balance is important for you. As long as you live according to your core values, principles, and goals then you’ll be happy and fulfilled. Nothing wrong with frugal fatigue and living a little 🙂

  • Mad Money is the longterm bedrock of frugality. No matter how much income you have stick to a budget that has a Mad Money line item. I retired early, travel a lot, and live very frugally, otherwise. While travelling I spend my mad money on anything I want. I’m planning an interesting trip to Maine that I call my “$5000 Lobster”. Before the trip I’ll have a big bowl of rice and beans. It’s like that

  • I always enjoy my frugality because I get to break it sometimes. The mentality is different. There’s nothing wrong with a splurge once in a while. Splurges mean so many different things to different people too so just be responsible with it. I always think frugal as fun because it allows me to be creative and crafty.

  • At one time I was NEEDING to be Frugal and Cheap to make the ends meet and help stretch the budget as much as possible. Things are financially much better these days… and I enjoy the thrill of the coupon chase.. I prefer to search around for the deal and match it up with my Ibotta or Savingstar apps.. I enjoy cooking and saving money across the board.. But occasionally life gets overwhelming and I am feeling stressed and stretched.. and I give it up.. I focus on what I need.. Food and necessities.. QUICK! So I go in grab what I need and go.. because my mental and physical state just needs the chore done.. and I am getting no high off the deal..
    My guess is you are tired.. You are tired of the game right now, tired due to being a mommy of a little one, tired of working, tired of the heat, tired due to late stages of pregnancy and the heat and chasing a little one… You my friend are NORMAL!
    Buy your groceries, splurge on basic needs- just buy that case of tissues/wipes/paper plates because it is so helpful.. I am glad you bought your tea.. Enjoy it.. savor it.. Pamper yourself.. Indulge a little and make yourself feel important.. your emotional health is worth it… truthfully!

  • This post spoke to me!
    I was just feeling this way last week while brainstorming for ideas for a combined birthday celebration for myself and my fiancé. I wanted to go to this opulent bar for dinner but having to splash $150 for a dinner sounds really extravagant but but ITS OUR 30th BIRTHDAY.
    funny how men don’t have such emotional outbursts. For him it was just, well, we don’t do this Everyday so why not?
    I went back and forth this guilt of even suggesting that location – we end up settling for dinner at a cheaper place then followed by drinks at that place just to soak in the atmosphere.

    I read through so many of your entries. You have done really well Mrs FAF! Let yourself go once in awhile. Take it as a small financial sacrifice for the longer road ahead. (:

    Hope to get in touch with you. I am looking to pursue my masters in US as well. Your blog entries helped me immensely.

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