Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The year of the burnouts?

After posting our mantra about frugal contentment, I've been noticing that some other longtime Frugalistas and stay-at-home-moms have been feeling a little less than content lately.

Lindsey writes:
Cheerful frugality. Meredith talks about this quite often. I've lost my knack for it. Being cheerful about being frugal. In some ways, I'm just tired of struggling paycheck to paycheck. (I know, I know, you spend all you make no matter what you make does apply to most working may not be better) I'm tired of barely getting by. I'm tired of being a few paychecks from disaster. I'm tired of always searching for the best deal or bargain. Maybe I could describe this as frugal burnout? Is that real? This is a very big factor in my thinking of going back to work in some capacity. Sigh. Is frugal burnout real? This I would love some comments and input on...
Meredith herself posted about "When You Don't Feel Frugal," and linked to a post about seeing perfect mommies at the YMCA and wondering why your hair doesn't look like that.

Anything I can say runs the risk of sounding smug...but it's the farthest thing from my mind. [Wanting to feel smug, I mean--not whether or not we want to be frugal! I can see you could take that either way.] Here are some thoughts, though, for anyone feeling like it would just be more fun to do it the way it seems like everyone else does.

1. Read Janel's post at Frugal Hacks: "When Your Want-To Is Broken." Very good advice there, including getting enough sleep and "keeping the frugal life enjoyable." (All work and no play...)

2. Get hold of Mary Ann Cahill's old book The Heart Has Its Own Reasons, especially if you're questioning your decision to stay home with young children. As I've said elsewhere: good book, bad title. Lots of personal stories reminding you of why you are doing what you're doing--and practical advice as well from families whose situations ranged from middle to low income and even out of work.

3. If you can't find that book, read some literature that makes you appreciate how good we really do have it, even if we're not YMCA mommies. If Little House in the Big Woods is too shopworn for you, you could try Robinson Crusoe. (Too extreme? Maybe The Moffats, or Margot Benary-Isbert's The Ark, or the first book from the Caroline series where Caroline's widowed mother is struggling to take care of her children.) Peter Menzel's photo book Material World is good too. (Borrow it from the library, of course.)

I'm short on time this morning but I'm planning on coming back later to add a few more thoughts. More Here.


TheNormalMiddle said...

Well, I can say that in my case, the burnout has little do with wanting MORE stuff. It is more like wanting to be able to make it and not be constantly worried about not making ends meet. I almost resent the fact that being tired of frugal life equates to wanting more stuff.

I truly just want to be able to pay all the bills (gas, food, lights, water, rent) without having to be CONSTANTLY worried & creative about doing it.

That was my original intention of the "frugal burnout" post.

For some reason, people get very defensive about this and equate wanting more flexibility in the budget with not being content or being plain selfish.

I don't think it is selfish to want to not constantly be in a financial struggle.

TheNormalMiddle said...

Hit submit too soon, sorry :) I would like to provide my kids with some non-essential needs. I don't think it is horrible to want to do that. I'm talking ONE activity or lesson per kid. A nice gift on their birthdays that isn't always thrifted. So yes, I will admit to wanting some "stuff"...but stuff isn't the means for my frugal burnout, really.

I'm just tired of self-sacrificing behavior which at this point, can't go too much farther. I've cut my dryer sheets in half, bought powdered milk, and done 99% of the "tips and tricks" of the frugal trade. We even SOLD OUR HOUSE to pay off debt! At some point, the INCOME has got to go up. At least that is the issue in our personal situation. Income, income, income. Not outgo....although there is plenty going out, just not to all the frivolous stuff some might like to think.

Mama Squirrel said...

Hi Lindsey,

Yes, I did get that from your post--that for you it's not about luxuries but about just holding together, and I agree that chopping dryer sheets is not going to change that. Bringing home a paycheck that has to be stretched-till-it-hurts-and-even-more is not fun. I truly hope things will swing around for you soon, and that God will guide you in whatever new plan he has for your family's "journey"--homeschooling or not, working or not.

Anonymous said...

Mama Squirrel,
Thank you for your practical thoughts - I keep hearing that "The Heart Has Its Own Reasons" is a wonderful book. I think I'll add it to the reading list.