Argh. Winter is coming. You might say it’s already here. Hello outerwear. Hello frigid temps. Hello cabin fever – for some of us. Prolonged behavior change in any area can result in rebellion. Especially change that is drastically different from the norm.
I generally rebel after months of being cooped up by taking long, ill-advised walks outside. Sometimes I just need to be outdoors and breathe in fresh air – even if breathing through nose-sickles.
Frugal Fatigue can impact even the most enthusiastic debt dumper. After months or years of cutbacks, belt tightening, and practical decisions you may rebel financially. Just like my long winter walks, adopting a progress-friendly way to fend off the onset of frugal fatigue is vital.
We first encountered this concept in 2011 via the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. During the height of the Great Recession, 70% of respondents polled said they were tired of living on a budget. Ever been there?
Don’t let frugal fatigue derail your plan to pursue a debt free lifestyle. After the initial excitement wears off (yep, dumping debt and winning with money is exciting in the beginning – just like New Year’s exercise resolutions), use the following 10 strategies to help you stay committed for the long haul.
1. Budget in the fun. Dumping debt can be a long-term process. You’re more likely to stay focused if you and your family don’t dread the process. Spend time with friends and loved ones. Take in low cost cultural activities around town. A movie night in is always a hit. Find budget-friendly distractions to enjoy life while working on your debt dumping goal.
2. Connect with money buddies. Find an accountability team or partner who shares your struggle. Remember, you are 33% more likely to accomplish goals when working with a friend. Keep each other motivated and accountable to the goals everyone has set.
3. Celebrate the small wins. Treat yourself –within reason – upon reaching each milestone. This just might help you look forward with anticipation to the next milestone.
4. Chart your progress. #teamdebtfree has shared some very cool methods to chart progress on our Facebook page. Some people blog and list their monthly progress in pie chart form. Others might include the children and color in a debt progress wall graph. I would review my monthly budget sheets to be reminded of the shrinking debt total (think cartoon flip book). However you choose, remind yourself regularly of the progress made.
5. Determine your debt free date. We have a link to a nifty calculator which will allow you to enter your debt amounts, select a payoff process, and determine which date to throw your Freedom Par-tay! As always, if the date seems too far off, focus on the next milestone and get moving.
6. Plug into positive sources. I can’t say enough about plugging into sources of motivation. They are everywhere. We offer podcasts, the blogs (of course) and we’re even on Pinterest now for the crafty among us (Yes, I know. Pinterest is more than just crafts). We do this to help you maintain that positive feedback loop in your head…debt freedom is possible…debt freedom is possible.
7. Count your blessings. Things bought with debt come with strings attached. Be content with what you have (your whole life, not just stuff). The feeling of denial is less intense when we dial back on the pursuit of more stuff. Paying off debt becomes less burdensome.
8. Be kind and rewind. Our journey out of debt was not a straight shot. We made progress and then made poor choices. Some choices may seem good in the beginning, but end up biting you in the nether regions. Dust off, course correct, and try again.
9. Encourage someone else. Share your story with those around you. You might gain a money buddy. It also helps me to be more accountable if I know someone else is watching. One #teamdebtfree member has taken her ride to the inter-webs. The whole world is cheering her on now!
10. Journal through it. Whether you blog for the world or keep private notes not fit for public consumption, preserve the experience. If frugal fatigue sets in, refresh your memory with the more productive moments. You can do it!
Now if I could just find a temperature controlled way to deal with cabin fever!