Tips For Avoiding Frugal Burnout

Saving Dollarsand Sense

This is an old post I shared several years ago. The information is still very much relevant, so I am sharing it again today for those of you who find yourself experiencing these same things I have.

I have to admit that recently I have been dealing with a very serious case of Frugal Burnout.

I thought that maybe I just needed to reorganize my coupons, but even that turned into a tedious chore.  It was almost as if I was purposely rebelling against my frugal ways.

This has been slowly building up for several weeks.

But after last week I knew I needed to put an ended my my burnout once and for all.

My kitchen table was covered with coupons for an entire week!  We couldn’t eat dinner at the table because of the mess. This had become more than an organization issue, and it needed to be dealt with swiftly.

So this week I have organized the mountain of coupons and kicked my rebellious attitude out of this place!

I have suffered from frugal burnout on more than one occasion, and only recently have I got a clue as to how to avoid it.

There are several small things that we can do to avoid frugal burnout.  And I will touch on some of them in this article.  However,  I believe that the biggest way to avoid it altogether is by not allowing it to master you.

What does that mean exactly?

Well it seems like a natural thing for most people starting of on the road to becoming more frugal minded to see it as an all or nothing situation.  This leads to feeling defeated if we buy anything without a coupon or if we go over budget.

Learning to be more frugal in all areas of your life is something that you get better at naturally over time.  But sometimes we want to force the process and that is what leads to frugal burnout.  In the worst case scenario, this could cause us to throw away our frugal ways in order to avoid the feelings of failure.


Exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.

Have you ever felt this way?

Becoming a frugal person should not become a burden.  And we have to be willing to accept the fact that we aren’t always going to get it right.

But you can’t fail if you don’t quit!

When you finally come to grips with the fact that it is about striving to be more frugal by changing your mindsets, then the possibility of being caught in the burnout trap will disappear.

I did say I would give you some tips to avoid frugal burnout, so here they are.

  1. Stay Organized.  This is important since cutting coupons and preparing shopping trips is already a tedious job, you don’t want it to become any more overwhelming than necessary which is exactly what will happen when you let you coupon stack up & get disorganized.
  2. Allow Wiggle Room. Going over budget is one of those things that can make a frugal person feel as though their efforts were in vain.  But if you set aside 10% of our budget for those special sales that pop up, you’ll be less likely to go over budget.
  3. Realize that this is a process. You aren’t always going to get it right.  And you may need to take a week off now and then.  And that is perfectly alright.  Give yourself permission to mess up and learn from those situations.

The single most important piece of advice I can give you is don’t give up!  Like I said earlier, you can’t fail if you don’t quit.

So don’t quit.

It is sometime necessary to remind ourselves of these things especially when we start to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or frustrated.  This are sure signs that things aren’t right and we need to do some adjusting.

About Kristie Sawicki

Kristie Sawicki is the author of Saving Dollars and Sense, where she blogs about Money Saving Ideas and Frugal Living Tips, as well the Best Coupons, Deals and Freebies around. You can connect with Kristie Sawicki on Google+ and on the Saving Dollars and Sense Facebook page.


  1. This is a good reminder. I was wondering if your recent trip to Disney may also play a par, as well. I find myself bored with frugality when I am for a moment allowed a bit more freedom. The move we just undertook, for example, made it necessary to eat out a bit more. I got used to it. And it was justified. But now I am having to cut back, way back, again. It's hard. Vacations can do the same thing to me. I get used to spending a little more, even if it is planned for. I like your suggestions.

    • The trip to Disney definitely played into this. And we were going out to eat and picking up pizza more than I care to admit. But I am back on track, and cutting back once again.

  2. Thanks for posting this! Burnout is going on in my couponing right now. I am seriously behind and feel overwhelmed!

    • It's important that we take a breather and reevaluate things. And I was in the same boat as you. I had to force myself to sit down and do it, but it did take several weeks to get to the point that I couldn't keep going the way I was.

  3. I'm a big fan of setting aside a little bit of Blow money… I feel a bit guilty doing it, but not as guilty as I'd feel if I screwed my budget up. Great tips, Kristie!

  4. That's where the wiggle room comes in. If you are budgeting down to the penny you will get overwhelmed if something unexpected shows up.

  5. I got frugal burnout in February and our wallets certainly paid for it! I'm hoping we do better this month. Thanks for the great post! Glad to know I am not alone.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this! I had become so stringent with our money that I didn't allow for the wiggle room.

  7. When I start feeling burnt out I try to just maintain rather than increase. I go through seasons of life where I am always trying to be more frugal. Then it gets to be too much. Then for awhile I will just try to maintain a basic level of frugality for a bit. It evens out in the end.

  8. Funny that you should post that this week. I purposely left my coupons at home last time I went shopping, because I just didn't want to deal with the flipping through, and picking them out, deciding which size or price was better, I just wanted to load up my cart and be done with it. Your tips are great to get me out of the slump and try and not burnout.

  9. Allowing for wiggle room and not beating yourself up, or your spouse, over over-spending are what help us get through. We're human, we make mistakes. Mistakes are also made in budgeting. We just push through and keep going!

  10. I can completely relate. We had always been what I consider frugal, compared to many friends and family. My husband lost his job 6 years ago and we agreed it made sense for him to stay home with the children. I lost my job early last year. I was glad that we were already used to being frugal, though we had to take it to a new level with neither of us working. Frugality got old and we would splurge with a trip to McDonalds once in a while. It took me 11 months to finally get a new job that only pays about 65% of what I was making in my previous job. So we will continue our frugal ways though we get burned out once in a while and splurge on an item or a dinner (maybe to Applebees this time).

    I think being frugal is like dieting. If you try to stick with it 100% and don’t allow yourself some little bit of relief once in a while you’ll go on a costly binge and totally regret it. Planning for a little binge will prevent the big one.

  11. thanks for the encouragement!

  12. This is a great article! I think we all have times where we have frugal burnout but knowing how to deal with it is great. I have struggled lately with taking my two little ones shopping so I have gotten less good deals because frankly I was burned out. I love this article and going to be putting much of it into practice.

    Thanks for the great article!

  13. Great article! I’ve been taking a break from my couponing since January. By a break I mean that although I still use them at every shopping trip I make, I’m not getting tons of papers with inserts each week, and I’m not going to CVS or Walgreens each week like I used to. I’m not concerned if I miss a deal because I know there will be more later on.
    You are right that organization is key. That’s the most overwhelming part for me, but just yesterday I put the pile of coupons I had on my desk away. And it feels good!

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