Savings Fatigue - picture of man asleep at his desk with laptop in front of him

Savings Fatigue: When Saving Money Becomes Boring

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Imagine this: You’re on the fast track toward saving money and building real wealth. Your savings account is responding nicely to your new budget, which is super exciting. Tracking your spending is helping you cut out the junk you never needed anyway. You’ve even made progress on destroying your debt, which is awesome!

Everything is going swell, so you keep repeating the process…

…every month…

…over…

…and over…

…and over again.

Your enthusiasm slows. Your motivation wanes. You look around and think, “Man, this saving money s#it is freakin’ boring.”

WATCH OUT!!!

Stop right there and back away from the ledge! That’s it… just back it on up… there you go.

What you’re experiencing is savings fatigue, and it is dangerously close to destroying all the progress you’ve made.

What is Savings Fatigue?

At some point, savings fatigue sets in for all super savers. The shiny debt-free lifestyle we craved doesn’t look quite as sparkly when viewed in the mundane light of the daily grind it actually takes to achieve it. The repetition of good financial habits, the constant attention to detail, the money piling up in our bank accounts month after month after month… it all gets a little, well, boring. The newness wears off, our original motivations lose their strength, and we’re tempted to quit before we reach the finish line.

I mean, once we’ve cut our expenses, paid off debts, and are cruising forward with our well thought out plans, what else is there to do, right?

Plenty. That’s what.

You’ve come so far! Don’t let savings fatigue fool you into taking your foot off the pedal now. It’s time to recognize the problem and fight back!

3 Ways to Fight Back Against Savings Fatigue

When saving money becomes boring, take a step back and use these three techniques to reignite your financial fire:

  1. Set financial goals. – Setting financial goals is a great way to stay motivated. Challenge yourself to save an extra $500 this month. Make a game out of cutting your expenses even further. Increase your retirement savings goal from 10% to 20% of your income this year. Or, set a goal of saving enough money to buy a rental property. By creating concrete financial goals, you’ll have specific targets to shoot for, providing incentives and motivation for you to stay on the right financial path.
  2. Create a “bucket list.” – Bust out a sheet of paper and start writing down your dreams. Perhaps you want to buy a house. Maybe you want to pay for your kids’ college. Or maybe you want to retire early, or travel the world, or give generously to your favorite charity. Whatever your goals are, write them down… then check them off after reaching them. Once you’ve finished your bucket list, create a new one. We’ve gone through several revisions of ours, and these lists continue to inspire us each day. Just like setting financial goals, the more specific you can be with your dreams, the more they’ll motivate you to save.
  3. Enjoy the little things. – Sometimes, it’s the little things that help us enjoy the process. For instance, payday is a great time around our house. Typically, we plan our budget a few days ahead of time. (Exciting.) Then, on payday, we revise our budget according to our actual paychecks. (Even more exciting.) After that, we pay bills and allocate savings according to the plan we agreed upon. (Super exciting.) The point is, enjoy each little win. Celebrate the little things and use them as motivation to keep on truckin’.

Savings Fatigue is Actually a Good Thing

When you’ve been following a financial plan as long as we have, things tend to stay rather boring. I never wake up and think, “Wow, it was so awesome that I didn’t spend a freaking cent yesterday. Hot damn!” Nope, it just doesn’t happen because not spending money really isn’t all that exciting.

But, for all its dangers, savings fatigue is actually a good thing. It means you’re doing it right. You sleep soundly at night because you’re slowly saving for the future. You don’t have to worry about where the rent will come from or how you’ll put food on the table this month. There aren’t any financial surprises or emergencies to fret over because you’re prepared for the worst things that can be thrown your way. Yep, by completing the simple, mundane tasks of every day saving, you’ve eliminated the excitement and replaced it with stability. That may not be exciting, but it’s a helluva lot better than struggling.

Enjoy the Journey

I hate to break it to you, but there aren’t any ticker tape parades or confetti lined streets waiting for you at the end of this journey. No fireworks will pop off.  Nobody is going to jump out from behind your desk and sing songs of congratulations. Even so, this is where you want to be.

While you watch others struggle to pay off that car loan… and that house… and that credit card… and that furniture… you’ll have the flexibility to chase the dreams you wrote on your bucket list. You’ll have the freedom to make decisions others can afford. You’ll have financial options that other people just don’t have.

It’s then that you’ll realize your efforts have paid off, that you made a great choice by saving on the things that don’t matter so you can now spend on the things that do. You made small, temporary sacrifices and they turned into huge, long-term gains. It might seem boring, but it works. As for me, I’ll take boring over broke any day… and you can take that to the bank!

Have you experienced savings fatigue? What have you done to combat it? Let us know in the comments below!

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21 Comments

  1. I think I suffer a little bit from this from time to time. It really helps to make it fun for myself and almost view it as a game or challenge. 🙂

    1. Oh definitely! I think its always fun to make it a game to see just how far you can push your savings. It definitely keeps things a bit more interesting.

  2. I know it well..going through it now. I experience it when I’m around a lot of friends who are talking about traveling, which happened recently. I know in my heart I could easily plop down some dough and travel anywhere I want, but I’m choosing to save. Part of my sick mind wants them to complain about being broke so I can feel better about myself, but they never do. They just go about their day. I’m doing one of your suggestions though, which is to start planning with big picture stuff so I can stay motivated.

    1. Yeah, it can definitely be hard to listen to others talk about how much fun they are having spending. As you know, though, they’re probably leveraged to the hilt and will have to work until they die. Keep plugging along 😉

  3. Love this Greg – “savings fatigue is actually a good thing. It means you’re doing it right” If you can stay the course (with small “wins” along the way) – the fatigue is worth it!

    1. Ha! Thanks Vicki! It’s true though…if you’re getting tired of saving, that means you’ve been killing it 🙂

  4. Savings fatigue tends to go hand in hand with frugal fatigue for a lot of people. What got us out of debt was changing our lifestyles. Clinching down tight on that budget after tracking expenses and knowing where everything is going. Once you’re out of debt then the savings becomes a game to see how much it can grow which keeps you in that frugal mindset because you’ve seen what a difference it can make. Ugh… I’m there.

    Though I have always been frugal, being this tight actually made me lose the joy in spending. Knowing each dollar would be worth way more if I just saved it started to make me insane! Thankfully, that phase has passed. I am now back to my frugal mode knowing it is a lifestyle choice, not a necessity. I am out of debt. I have plenty of money. And I can buy whatever the heck I want. That being said, I will still save. Because what I want to buy cost more than any nick knack in a suburban mall – what I want to buy is my freedom…one day at a time. That is a goal I can look forward to.

    1. Heck yeah it is! Keep on keepin’ on my frugal friend 😉 I’m right there with you.

  5. Setting goals is the most important for me. If I don’t have a goal to shoot for then it becomes saving just to save, which isn’t very motivating. Even if it’s a small goal, it will help you stay motivated and once you reach it, you’ll be excited to set a new more lofty goal.

  6. Savings fatigue doesn’t sound like a problem many people in the country suffer from, but it’s a great problem to have! I had some savings fatigue recently and solved it by getting into credit card debt! It’s not as bad as it sounds we decided to finally add a deck to our home and the contractor had an option of paying in full with a credit card.

    I had a credit card which needed several thousand dollars of spend to reach the bonus so I just charged it to the card instead of writing a check and paid the card off right away. Massive reward points for something we planned to pay for anyway! And I really love your point about enjoying the little things. Being in a good financial position lets you enjoy your family and friends more. Many people can’t because they are so worried about money. Spend more time with people you love spending time with!

  7. This definitely seems like a good problem to have. I haven’t had savings fatigue before – I love seeing how much of an impact good habits can have over time.

  8. James Griser says:

    Thank You for this! I recently became debt free for the first time in my adult life after a divorce and feel bored . I want another motorcycle and my own house, I live with a woman and she is very smart about money but I would like to move out for personal reasons but no cash on hand. She wants to fly and visit her family this year so there go’s my money! Would it be a bad idea to move out when I’m able or stay for financial reasons? Love – vs – money?! This is not a fun place for me. I welcome some advice
    Thank You

    1. Hey James,

      It sounds like you need to have a serious talk about money with your girlfriend. If you don’t have the money or don’t want to spend the money on travel, then you should talk about that. And as you know, don’t ruin your debt freedom by going out and financing a motorcycle 🙂 The rest is really up to you man. Sorry I can’t be of more help, but good luck!

  9. Anne Russell says:

    I have battled savings fatigue a few times…it’s a long haul and I have to remember to visit our goals and determine how far we’ve come. When it’s one person’s battle on behalf of a family, it’s tedious and inglorious. But last weekend I revisited our year (2016) and found that the savings I’d worked for in groceries was the same as working a part-time job 16 hours per week, every week, before taxes. The time I invest is 5 hours per week, my grocery bill is 58% of what it was 2 years ago (same number of people and pets). That’s the motivation to keep at the daily and weekly grind. I’m going to try and determine our net worth monthly to see that climb this year. I’ll continue to grab that quarter, nickel, dollar and track how they add up.

  10. I go through this throughout the year. I get tired of saving and budgeting, but I’ve found that setting savings goals and creating a bucket list really help me. If I keep in front of me what I’m saving for it’s makes the journey all that more interesting.

  11. I struggle with this, nobody prepares you for it when you are a kid, you get pocket money and spend it as it comes. Or save up and then spend it. Then suddenly you’re thrown into the deep end of budgeting and I must admit I still keep spending it all! I think I’m slowly beginning to get the hang of it though. Starting saving again for the hundredth time!!!

  12. I recently got out of debt, (it’s been less than a month since I’ve been debt free) and it feels GREAT! I was frugal for the past 3 years, and now as I’m saving up my emergency fund, I’m like… When can I finally spend some of my money? I have almost 3k isn’t that enough? I am already investing 13% for retirement. I did have a splurge with a $280 evening out celebration, (We had around 3 major life milestones/accomplishments to celebrate.) Now it’s exciting to see my savings account go up and up, and gather more interest. (I’m only getting 11 cents a day in interest, and I find that so exciting. I can totally see how it would get old fast though. Paying off debt for 3.5 years, I experienced major debt fatigue but I still kept soldiering on.

    1. That’s fantastic Minah! Congrats 😀 You’ve given yourself a huge leg up, so keep it going (but be sure to treat yourself every once in a while)!

  13. I didn’t realize savings fatigue was an actual thing, I’ve been saving to buy a brand new car & go on an overseas holiday.

    I’m saving $900 a month as a single mum of 2 boys and sometimes I just think I’m overdoing it a bit, it’s so boring haha

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