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Americans have frugal fatigue

MMI Copywriter

By Kim McGrigg, MMI Community Manager

The January poll hosted on the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) website, queried consumers regarding their attitude toward “frugal fatigue,” the weariness associated with long-term restricted spending.

It is not surprising that the majority of respondents, 66 percent, indicated they were tired of pinching pennies, but would have to continue that lifestyle. Even though the recession is technically over, that textbook definition isn’t being felt in American households. The interesting finding is that more than 20 percent of those weighing in said they had implemented financial lifestyle changes that they found to be positive and intended to keep them in place.

The recession introduced many Americans to a financial lifestyle they had not previously known, one that included tracking spending, creating a budget that was in line with income, and saving for the inevitable rainy day. Even though these positive actions may have been forced upon consumers out of necessity, anytime a person takes control of his or her financial well-being, it’s a step in the right direction.

When one in five people makes a decision to permanently alter their financial habits, presumably spending less and saving more, it potentially impacts the economy as a whole. This could be worrisome to some who encourage increased spending as a necessary component to the country’s recovery. Nonetheless, it can be argued that a financially stable household is critical to a financially stable America.

We support financially responsible behavior and congratulate those who have embraced it as their new lifestyle. The 66 percent of Americans who are reluctantly remaining in the restricted spending mode should examine their current financial habits to see if some of the elements are worth implementing permanently.

How about you?  Do you have "frugal fatigue?"

The actual poll question and results are as follows:

Do you have “frugal fatigue?”

A. Yes, I am tired of pinching pennies, but will have to continue that lifestyle=66%
B. Yes, I am tired of pinching pennies, and have decided to begin spending more=5%
C. No, I've not made any spending changes in recent years=8%
D. No, I have made lifestyle changes, but they are positive and I intend to keep them=21%

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Picking the perfect financial partner


Loves you…loves you not… Remember when finding love was all about picking the right petal? Today, finding and maintaining love is still about the choices you make, but the options are a bit more complex, especially when you are trying to pick the ideal financial partner. Since communication is key in a successful relationship, taking the time to talk can be a great investment in your joint financial future, consider starting with the following five topics.

  1. How did your family handle money when growing up? Your financial style is based on years of experience. Think back to how your family handled money while you were growing up.
  2. What is your definition of a “financial crisis”? Different people have different thresholds for financial stress. For some people, getting calls from creditors is a minor irritation. For others, there mere thought of a credit card balance is enough to send them over the financial edge.
  3. Should we have one account or two? Different couples handle money differently. Having separate accounts can be a practical way to share financial responsibilities while maintaining individual freedoms. However, many couples who agree on spending habits find that a joint account works well for them.
  4. What do you consider a “big” financial decision? One key to a happy financial life is to vow to make all big financial decisions together. While that sounds good in theory, it is probably worth exploring in more detail. After all, one of you might consider a television a huge purchase, while the other might be thinking more along the lines of a car.
  5. What are your financial goals? Everyone, whether they’re in a relationship or single, should take the time to set financial goals. Setting agreed-upon short-, mid-, and long-term goals with your partner can help you both make smart financial decisions. Just be sure your goals are both realistic and flexible.  

The answers to these questions should encourage a deeper discussion about your finances. Don’t forget to discuss areas like debt and credit standing. They may be a bit harder to talk about, but they are vital to your financial plan.

After having an open and frank conversation about your finances, reflect on the following qualities you should consider (and some you should pass on):  

  • LOVES YOU: Someone who shares the same (or similar) financial goals and aspirations as you.
  • LOVES YOU NOT: Someone whose idea of good financial communication is a series of grunts, shrugs, and blank stares.
  • LOVES YOU: Someone who was raised with similar values. Since how your parents handled their money has a direct influence on the way you handle yours, finding someone who was raised with the same values can be an asset in your relationship.
  • LOVES YOU NOT: Someone who buys a Ferrari on a whim; and you were thinking that the gourmet coffee you drink in the mornings were splurges!
  • LOVES YOU: Someone whose financial strengths and values compliment your own. 

For more relationship and money tips, download the free Love & Money eBook at

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Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
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