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How to Be Frugal While Dealing With Coupon Burnout

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In a series on how to be frugal, it is essential to address those times that it’s not so nice to be frugal. I wrote about this some in When Being Frugal Really Stinks, but let’s discuss this a bit more specifically. For our purposes here, let’s talk about coupon burnout.

Coupon burnout doesn’t necessarily mean that you are burned out from the actual practice of using coupons, but that it refers to a lifestyle of saving money and being frugal in more general terms.

So, if you are a frugal shopper but don’t use coupons, don’t worry, this post is for you, too.

Even those of us like myself who have been overly frugal and using coupons like myself go through seasons where we are just tired of it. There have been a few times this year that I didn’t even buy newspapers to get the inserts because I recognized that I was simply burned out about the whole thing. I knew that for my own sanity, I could have nothing to do with coupons or smart shopping that week.

With this in mind, if you find yourself here at times you can rest easy knowing that you are in good company. Of course if your budget is limited as mine is, you can’t continue turning your back on your savvy shopping and coupon clipping practices, but there are times that you just need to change your money saving practices or step away from them altogether.

So, what do we do when we find ourselves experiencing shopping or coupon burnout? I’ve got 10 ways that will help you cope, just as they have me.


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Remain focused on your goal

What is your reason for being frugal? Why have you spent time reading material focused on how to be frugal? In my life, my goal in saving money is to be able to do more with the money we do earn. My goal is to stretch each dollar further to bless the life of my family as well as the lives of those around us. My goal is to be responsible, to be a good example to my children, and to set up those who will appear on the many branches of my family tree to be able to do the same. So, what is your goal? When you are experiencing burnout, revisit this goal.

Remain focused on the temporary nature of most financial situations

Whether you are saving for a major purchase, going back to school, or experiencing a loss of hours or en entire income for some reason, these financial strains are all temporary in nature. Of course temporary doesn’t mean that they will be over quick, sometimes these seasons can last for years, but temporary means that they won’t be this way forever. Staying focused on this concept can help us during times of frugal burnout.

Minimize triggers that make your frugal journey difficult

If you have a hard time not being disappointed in avoiding buying things at the mall, maybe foregoing the mall altogether would be a good choice. Does perusing Facebook make your eyes green with envy? Perhaps there are just certain friends or acquaintances who make you feel very discouraged in your frugal journey. Whatever your trigger points are, intentionally limit your expose to them, or, if possible, avoid them altogether.

Find an incentive

Everything we do, especially when it is something hard, is easier to work towards if we have an incentive. We even know this about our kids, don’t we? Our kids enjoy working for an incentive, and so do we if we are being honest. Oftentimes it can renew our desire to be frugal if we are working toward some kind of reward or incentive.

For instance, my husband has been working toward getting his RN degree for what seems like forever. I’m sure you can imagine that this also affects our budget. It will be four years from beginning to end by the time he finishes. We have agreed that sometime within a year of him finishing, we are taking a nice vacation – just the two of us. We have never done this in our entire lives as parents. We were close, so close as I wrote about in When Making the Right Choice Breaks Your Heart, but it has never happened. I cannot tell you the numbers of times that this incentive has carried me through the hard days. An incentive, big or small, is so worth it!

Find a compromise

If you are experiencing coupon or sale shopping burnout, oftentimes a compromise can help. Maybe instead of shopping at five stores every week, you can determine to just shop at two stores for the month. Maybe instead of clipping coupons every single week, you can just forego the coupon clipping and just shop the sales for a period of time. I am one who takes living frugally to the extreme at times, which then causes burnout. Removing the extreme side by making compromises is greatly helpful.

Create a new goal or time frame

Maybe your goal or time frame is to blame for your burnout. If you are like me, you may set goals that are just too lofty at times. Sometimes I reach for something that is way too far away and then expect myself to be there by next week. When I do this, even though I know better, it often takes a feeling of burnout to snap me back into reality. Adjusting my goal or my time frame is often the very best thing I can do. For more on goals, try What’s the Point of Setting Goals, Anyway. You can also read about our lofty goal in 18 Things We Did to Be Completely Debt-Free by Age 42.

Find encouragement

Whenever we are feeling weary about anything, a healthy dose of encouragement can always get us on the path again. Encouragement is often best when it comes from an actual person, but you can also find encouragement in the form of books, blogs, Facebook groups, and so much more. Encouragement is especially useful if it comes from someone who can relate to your struggle, which means a life of frugality as it relates to us here. When you are feeling discouraged, encouragement is the perfect anecdote.

Find a support system

While encouragement is great, a support system will bring you strength and encouragement again and again. Just as in finding encouragement, you can find a support system in all sorts of ways. I will say that a support system of people who have lived or are living a frugal journey at least someone similar to the one you are experiencing is best. This is what you should shoot for in finding a support system. A support system has carried me through the hard times more times than I can even think of.

Take a break

Yes, I just said that. Sometimes we need an all out break from what is stealing from our joy entirely. However, I say this while also offering the caution that your break needs to be close-ended. You have to walk into a break knowing exactly how long your break is. Will you be taking a break for a day, a week, or a month? Taking a break with no clearly stated end is very dangerous, especially when it comes to being frugal. I would LOVE to take a break from being frugal indefinitely when I am burned out with it, but I know that my break has to be limited from the get-go.

Find blessings

This really is the cure for so many things so forgive me for having heard it before, but there is such power in finding and counting our blessings. If this is new to you, I will refer you to the book that changed my life in this area

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

There are always gifts to find, we just have to be intentional in looking for them. Finding the gifts in our lives helps carry us through any difficult season, coupon burnout included.

If you are experiencing coupon burnout in any way, these 10 things are just what you are looking for. These things have carried me through these difficult seasons countless times. They will carry you through, too!

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