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Frugal Fatigue Hits Home


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Last week, I had an hour to kill so I went to a nearby Target to look for a high chair so the baby can sit with us at the table. I haven’t browsed at Target for a long time and I forgot how tempting that place could be!

I found a high chair that I liked and then wandered over to look at baby clothes. It’s getting warmer now and we really need some lighter weight clothes for baby RB40. I swear the little guy must be radioactive, he is like a little hot potato all the time. After that I headed over to the kitchen section and saw some slim tower fans on the way.

These new fangle fans are really cool! They take up much less space than the old standing circular oscillating fan and space is at a premium in our 1,000 sq ft condo. Our old fan is about ready to go to a new home.

I made it to the kitchen section without further distraction and saw some new shiny kitchenware. A $20 pressure cooker caught my eyes. I thought these things cost $60, 20 bucks isn’t too bad. I could cook beans and lentils with this! We don’t eat a lot of legumes currently, but I know we should. We could also make baby food and save some money.

Then I saw some knives. We have a 5 inch santoku at home and I saw a colorful 7 inch santoku on display. It looks nice and I would definitely use it. Next to it is a great looking yellow paring knife. drool… I have also been looking for a Dutch oven and there are some nice ones on display.

Luckily, I have been frugal for quite a long time and I left without buying anything. One of the best strategies to minimize spending is to put it off. Whew, I escaped by the skin of my teeth that time. I slept on it for a few days and came back to the store with Mrs. RB40. She is much better at resisting impulse purchases than I am.

In the end, we purchased the high chair, the fan, and a paring knife. If this had been 10 years ago, I would have loaded everything into the shopping cart and charged it all without a second thought. We’ve been cheap since New Year’s and the frugal fatigue is creeping up on us. I’ll have to avoid going into Target unsupervised in the future. πŸ˜‰

What about you? Have you been hit with frugal fatigue? Should we splurge once in a while so we can help out the economy?

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 38 comments… add one }
  • Lindy Mint June 22, 2011, 12:43 am

    Oh yes, Target is quite the house of temptations. Good thing Mrs. RB40 is more immune.

    I tend to get frugal fatigue right around the beginning of summer, which is ironic since it’s when my husband’s teaching income drops off and we hunker down for the long lean summer. Must be some sort of psychological resistance.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2011, 10:06 am

      Target is a huge house of temptation. πŸ˜‰
      I think I’m good for a while as long as I don’t go shopping alone.

      • [email protected] June 23, 2011, 8:05 pm

        I think Target has perfected their technique! I have no doubt they have market tested their displays as they are really appealing. I try to stay out of the stores, but that makes me bad for the economy! lol I make up for it buying online.

        Your wife is like my husband. He sticks to a list & won’t look at anything else!

  • LifeAndMyFinances June 22, 2011, 3:58 am

    After practically buying nothing for a long time, it can be tough to avoid those temptations! It’s best to purchase these items one at a time, and with purpose. That way you won’t be kicking yourself in a week when that credit card bill hits the roof.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2011, 8:03 pm

      That’s a great tip! If you buy one thing at a time, it will give you more time to shop for the best price and rethink the purchase.

  • Niki June 22, 2011, 4:57 am

    I was just cruising the internet. I didn’t buy anything, but it was tempting.

    We have those fans and I love them. The are much quieter than their box counterparts too.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2011, 8:04 pm

      I really like the new fan. It is taking so much less space than the old one.

  • cashflowmantra June 22, 2011, 6:44 am

    Funny story. I thought at the beginning that it was hopeless but glad to see that you left empty handed. It does sound dangerous to be leaving you alone at Target.

  • No Debt MBA June 22, 2011, 6:52 am

    I’ve definitely been hit by frugal fatigue before. If I’m feeling really done with the whole thing I try to at least channel my spending towards cheaper things that make me just as happy. So if I’m feeling really done with our $25 grocery budget one week I might spring for a tub of generic ice cream on sale for $2 which, let me admit, makes me feel very indulgent without breaking the bank.

    I also agree with LifeAndMyFinances – Being very conscious about what you’re buying and why makes a huge difference.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2011, 8:05 pm

      That’s a great tip about the ice cream. It’s affordable and luxurious at the same time.

  • krantcents June 22, 2011, 9:51 am

    In most cases, I am immune to frugal fatigue! Last week my attache handle broke. No big deal, it is 25 years old. I could have it repaired for $20 or get a new lighter better briefcase for $52.15 delivered. I chose to replace it because it was old and something else may go. The replacement normally retails for $169-175. The bargain swayed me!

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2011, 8:06 pm

      It’s time to upgrade! People like you are holding back the economy. πŸ™‚ (joking of course!)

  • Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter June 22, 2011, 11:21 am

    I have so been there my friend. In fact it still sneaks up on me quite often. Thank goodness I have a husband who can reel me in when I need it. No matter how much we know we can still get carried away sometimes. Good for you for resisting. You made us PF gurus proud.

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2011, 8:06 pm

      Thanks! The Mrs. is a lot better at resisting these things I like so we balance each other out well.

  • Jessica07 June 22, 2011, 1:06 pm

    I love your strategy of putting it off. I’ve never really thought about it, but the mentality of WAITING is perfect for being frugal. Then you don’t feel deprived, because you haven’t really said “no” to the item, but on other hand, chances are you’ll forget about the item once it’s no longer a temptation right in front of you.

    I haven’t shopped for non-necessity items for quite some time though, so I think browsing a Target might just do me in! LOL

    • retirebyforty June 22, 2011, 8:07 pm

      It really work! Waiting gives you time to cool off and rethink the purchase. We can also shop for a better price during the waiting period.

  • Melyssa June 22, 2011, 1:10 pm

    I actually don’t like to shop, so I rarely do any shopping unless it’s a necessity. But I haven been known to pay full price for items. I splurge every now and then on items that are not of necessity. Not to help the economy, but just because. And even then, it’s after I’ve thought about it and done research on who has the best price.

  • Buck Inspire June 22, 2011, 11:20 pm

    Wow you have some willpower there! Sounds like the purchases were good ones though. You’re lucky you have Mrs. RB40 to ground you. In my case, I’m the grounded one. So if I go off the deep end, frugal fatigue wise, look out below!

    • retirebyforty June 23, 2011, 8:04 pm

      I was amazed I left without buying anything! I had to rush out though so that helped.

  • youngandthrifty June 22, 2011, 11:41 pm

    I have frugal fatigue all the time. I’m tired of it πŸ˜‰

    We’re getting Targets up here in Canada, so I’m worried!!

    It’s hard being frugal all the time, so sometimes I splurge (e.g. go out for a meal, or go for high tea with a friend). I guess its the same with any behaviour change/ diet. Sometimes you just have to binge a little!

    • retirebyforty June 23, 2011, 8:05 pm

      Haha, yeah, I can see it would be tough to have all the time. Target is great! My favorite store, but I think I’ll have to avoid it mostly.

  • 101 Centavos June 23, 2011, 7:00 pm

    Nah, I’m still cheap. Like you though, cheaper than I used to be. I hope it’s not progressive, ending up an 85-yr old geezer in a ratty bathrobe and second-hand hotel slippers.

  • Money Reasons June 23, 2011, 7:28 pm

    Yeah, since we have some extra money coming in with the part time job that my wife does and no debt, I find it easier to buy a ipod touch for my son on this birthday. In fact, I wouldn’t even mind buying him a iPad, but if I did my wife would kill me…

    I don’t spend much on myself, but for some reason, my frugality goes out the window when it comes to my kids… go figure.

  • Forest June 27, 2011, 5:11 am

    Ha ha, the outcome was better than I thought it would be. I thought was going to buy the lot! The pressure cooker could be a good buy but slow cooking beans is better for the gas output of them anyway!

  • LLF June 27, 2011, 1:01 pm

    Have you thought about trolling craigslist for baby stuff? You can usually find some gently used baby items like high chairs and toys. I got 2 excersaucers for $30. Most of the stuff you can just throw in the bathtub, spray on some diluted bleach and rinse off to clean.

    Also, I had that chair that you bought. I end up liking this one http://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-Healthy-Care-Booster-Green/dp/B004C43JJ4/ref=pd_cp_ba_2
    because they can use it longer, less hot(my older one was radioactive as well, plus he was gigantor), and more mobile when you want to take it to go.

    I love target because they will take most of their stuff back, no questions asked. Another place I love is Amazon because you can return all baby stuff within 1 year.

    • retirebyforty June 27, 2011, 2:28 pm

      We purchased some 2nd hand items and were not really happy with them. I still check once in a while, but I haven’t found the exact items so we have been purchasing new lately. I think we are done buying baby stuffs for a few months though. I’ll check that chair out! It looks very plasticy.

  • Reicheru January 16, 2012, 9:42 am

    I think that it’s okay to splurge every once in a while as long as you keep yourself limited to a set amount and avoid using credit cards.
    I’m probably the one who spends the least amount of money in my family and am constantly saving it. But recently, I went to my first anime convention with my friends. Including the price to get in, I wound up spending close to $100 there in one day (and I’ve heard that overspending is normal for first timers). I actually brought $200+ with me and kept the last $100 in an envelope in my purse. The reason I didn’t spend that amount was because I told myself that the envelope was for emergencies only. In the end, I got to splurge, didn’t go home broke, and I don’t regret buying anything. πŸ™‚

    • retirebyforty January 16, 2012, 1:42 pm

      I agree. If you saved up for something fun, it’s worth it. We like to travel and spent a lot of money on that earlier. Now that we have a kid, we put a moratorium on it for now. πŸ™‚ Sounds like you had a great time at the anime convention.

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