Frugal fatigue makes me tired

Dear America: the Recession is not, like Lent, over in six weeks, and it's OK to cheat on Sundays. This USA Today article claims that people are so over being frugal, because we've done it for what, months now?

"Frugal fatigue" is the new buzz-phrase, and spending reports indicate we may be switching back to beef tenderloin (bye-bye roasted chicken) and $100 bottles of wine (so long tap water) and granite counter tops (adios, re-grouting that old tile).

I guess W. Hodding Carter, busy working on his book on extreme frugality (and according to a comment to my somewhat critical post, planning to live within his means forever, making me love him) is so March 2009. Right? We can just throw out the budget spreadsheet and proceed immediately to Starbucks for the day's second venti quadruple-shot caramel latte, with whip. No time to waste! Frugality is so boring!

Umm, hold up, guys.

Let me remind you why we're being frugal in the first place: because we discovered we were spending more money then we were making, certain that our homes and future incomes were piggy banks we could bash open any time we wanted, sure things, guaranteed annual returns. The housing crisis hit and reality struck: sometimes, salaries don't go up, sometimes, homes don't increase in value, sometimes, we lose our jobs and our homes and it's kinda smart not to spend money we haven't earned yet.

In the world of the American consumer, reality is fleeting. As Martha White says, we're acting like we've gotten a timeout we don't deserve, and we'll pout in the corner for a bit, eating pasta instead of lobster, and now it's time to go tearing around the playground -- I mean, mall -- again. No: we deserved this time out.

Frugal fatigue? You're making me tired. I don't want to have to go through this all over again every several years (or, just as likely, several months). You do not need $100 bottles of wine, granite countertops, and 52-inch flat panel TVs. Trust me on this. Take a nap, wipe the spending fever from your eyes, and please, please, get over your frugal fatigue already.

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