If you’ve been counting every dollar that goes through your budget each month and are growing weary of the entire process, you’re not alone. This condition is commonly known as budgeting burnout, personal finance burnout or frugal fatigue and is most likely to affect you towards the start of a new budgeting activity that you decided to try. According to How Stuff Works, the definition of budgeting burnout is the emotional and mental toll that results from carefully weighing each purchase decision. If you feel you’re no longer motivated to direct your efforts towards careful financial planning, remember that it is a normal phase. Financial worries are widespread these days and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
In milder cases, you may feel like skipping the idea of budgeting for a month or two, but in more extreme situations, you may react and go on an unnecessary shopping spree. It’s easy to compare this to a strict and unrealistic diet plan that you abandon or react towards after a few weeks by feasting on a variety of junk food to fulfill cravings, So it is no surprise that the solutions to a budgeting burnout are similar to a ‘diet plan burnout’. Here are five ideas to prevent or treat (if you’re already suffering) your apathy towards a personal finance revamp in your life:
1. Earn and save money with a purpose to stay motivated
When it comes to personal finance, lots of people struggle to control their spending and improve their savings. Sometimes this struggle can be traced back to a lack of motivation.
Try link your budgeting attempts to a goal for the whole family. This goal could be something short-term like buying a new television, or saving up for school supplies, or something long-term like saving up for a vacation, wedding, house, retirement or a child’s college education. This way, the motivation for saving every possible penny or cent is strong and relevant for every member of the household.
When you set a goal for your budget, the goal itself encourages you to continue managing your money prudently, whether it is by saving more money or earning more money. You’ll be surprised what a huge difference the right motivation can make towards your financial independence efforts.
This strong driving force for an increase in savings and income can remove the reluctance that is often associated with changing your lifestyle to cut unnecessary expenses.
Tip: Make sure you set realistic goals that are time bound for that extra push towards achieving it.
If you wish to not set goals at all, you can replace them with a vision for financial independence. That works well for me, personally.
2. Make budgeting a low-effort and fun activity for yourself
Another reason people run out of steam when trying to improve their financial situation is because of the idea that budgeting itself is a cumbersome and dull task. True, some people enjoy crunching numbers but others simply don’t.
It’s possible that the reason you’re suffering from personal finance burnout is related to the particular budgeting process that you have adopted. It may be too time intensive or work intensive. For instance:
- Do you record every single cash outflow as and when it happens?
- Are your budgeting categories numerous and take ages to fill out and track?
- Do you manage all your money manually and keep forgetting to carry out certain tasks, like timely bill payment?
In that case, re-evaluate your budgeting process and try to make the system as automated and low maintenance as possible. The very first article on this blog talks about how to automate your finances yourself and why it is a good idea.
It is essential that the budgeting activity it enjoyable for you and your family because it makes the task easier. There are different ways to add fun to your personal finance spreadsheets, and one such way is to get creative with the labels and headings you use. We’ve touched this topic in a brief blog post here.
3. Involve the whole family in the budgeting activity
When budgeting becomes an inclusive activity, the momentum of the whole group can carry each individual forward. We’ve written about getting your kids to participate in the budgeting activity because there are a few merits to this, such as more ideas about cutting costs and greater acceptance toward the agreed-upon lifestyle changes called upon by the budget. Certainly, there is also the added advantage of greater momentum pushing everyone to complete the budgeting activity each month. Yet another benefit of involving your family in the budgeting process is that you impart important persona finance skills to your children. There are plenty of other ways to teach your kids about better money management, as shared in this blog post.
4. Set a splurge budget to reward your frugal behavior
After a long month of penny pinching, everyone deserves a break – a splurge budget dies exactly that! A splurge budget, which could be anything from 5-15% of your income, prevents the feeling of self-deprivation from putting a damper on your frugal efforts. Whether this reward money pays for your daily lattes of the monthly trip to a fancy restaurant, is entirely up to you. You deserve a pat on the back for all the hard work put in to earn/save more money through side-hustles, extra shifts at your job, cutting back on luxury items and stretching every dollar. A splurge budget will reward you for your efforts, and motivate you to keep at it to achieve your financial independence goals.
5. Remember that your sacrifices today will lead to a better tomorrow
People often think that the amount of sacrifices and self-denial that result from following a frugal lifestyle can be over whelming. True, frugal living requires us to differentiate between needs and wants when making purchases to reduce unnecessary spending, eliminate lifestyle inflation and increase savings. These choices to skip a purchase or to delay it till it suits our budget are not really sacrifices, if you think about it as an investment in the financial stability of your future. In the traditional sense of the word sacrifice, you give something up, never to have it return, but when it comes to careful financial planning, you are simply trading your current gratification for a less uncertain future with financial stability and wealth.
If you’re struggling with personal finance burnout, remember to take a step back and re-evaluate the process, making minor changes such as setting realistic goals, creating a splurge budget and involving your family. You will be back on the train in no time, full of excitement about all the benefits of good financial behaviour that you are bound to enjoy.