Don’t give into your frugal fatigue

I have said many times that it is not human nature to be conservative. Saving up or cutting back goes against our tendencies to buy things. This is most evident in our physical health, as 32% of the adult population in the United States is now obese. It’s difficult to stick to a certain regimen or diet, and eventually it could end up in a splurge, immediately negating all of the hard work. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling has uncovered a recent development in the financial world called frugal fatigue, something that may affect the severity of a possible credit bubble bursting.

The NFCC put a poll on its website in January, which asked one question: “Do you have frugal fatigue?” The four answer choices were “Yes, I am tired of pinching pennies, but will have to continue that lifestyle,” “ Yes, I am tired of pinching pennies, and have decided to begin spending more,” “No, I’ve not made any spending changes in recent years,” and “No, I have made lifestyle changes, but they are positive and I intend to keep them.” The poll was answered by 2,121 individuals between January 1 and January 31. 66% answered with the first choice, saying they were tired of saving, but they said they will have to continue saving. Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC, was not surprised by the results. “Even though the recession is technically over, that textbook definition isn’t being felt in American households,” she explained. Of the other choices, 5% said they have begun spending more, 8% said they have not made any recent spending changes, and 21% said their lifestyle changes are positive and they intend to keep them.

The NFCC, therefore, has found that the majority of Americans have frugal fatigue. Quite simply, they are tired of saving. Americans want to buy things. That idea is, basically, the idea behind both capitalism and individualism. Consumer spending, many economists believe, is a necessary component to getting a country out of an economic recession.

However, a financially stable household is also crucial to a stable economy. If people are buying things with money they don’t have, debt will continue to rise. The NFCC’s poll showed that 5% of the respondents have reached the tipping point and have begun to spend more. If they have the money to do so, then there’s no complaint. However, there is cause for concern if the amount of personal income has not increased but personal spending has. The question to this issue remains: Would you rather be fatigued by spending cuts or stressed by growing debts? If you’re not dealing with one, you’re most likely dealing with the other.

David Pilley

David Pilley

David Pilley is a May 2010 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a B.A. in communication studies and a creative writing minor. He is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina.

He played clarinet for the Marching Tar Heels in 2005 and 2006. He also volunteered for STV, the student-run television station at UNC-Chapel Hill, in the spring of 2010. He shot video, wrote scripts, and acted for “Off the Cuff,” UNC’s longest running sketch comedy show. He has the rare distinction of having lived in a dorm all four years of his undergraduate college career. He was also on Franklin Street on the night of April 4, 2009. His future plans are to pursue a master’s degree in journalism and to one day work for the media as a sports journalist or broadcaster.

Being one of eight children, David realizes finance is an important topic to everyone, regardless of his/her knowledge of the subject. His interests are in personal finance, budgeting, and savings.

In his spare time, David enjoys watching sports and standup comedy, as well as doing crossword puzzles and writing in the first person. He also thoroughly enjoys trivia and, one day, hopes to participate on the game show Jeopardy!, where he will try to break Ken Jennings’ 74-game win streak.
David Pilley

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