Weekend Reading: Overcoming the Frugality Syndrome

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
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Weekend Reading

The author here (a self-proclaimed pyromaniac) makes a very important observation as it relates to the popular Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement: “It is usually easier to start a fire than put one out.”


Fear and frugality: The biggest driving force behind the FIRE movement stems from extreme frugality. Individuals are retiring as early as age 30, and for many, this intense focus around saving becomes a lifestyle, and a habit that’s hard to break. It begins slowly, but after years of accumulating enough to support your lifestyle, it can turn into a complete shift in mindset – even a fear of spending. This is what the author refers to as “frugality syndrome.”

Extinguishing the fire: Someone experiencing frugality syndrome often pushes their financial threshold forward, even after reaching the amount needed for financial independence. It can develop a momentum that’s hard to stop, which makes pivoting from accumulation mode into retirement distribution mode all the more difficult. How can you get past a habit of frugality and begin to focus on enjoying the fruits of your labor? Three steps include:

📌Realize frugality syndrome is normal: Give yourself some grace and recognize that shifting into a distribution mode mindset might come with some difficult emotions

📌Prepare a spending plan: You surely had a savings plan to get you to retirement, now create some guidelines that will help ensure that money lasts your lifetime

📌Get a checkup: As you get closer to no longer needing that company paycheck, partner with a trusted financial advisor to get professional help in preparing for your transition

Money and meaning: It’s important to enjoy what you’ve worked so hard for, responsibly of course, but it can be difficult after a lifetime of frugality. I faced this predicament, and trust me, it takes time to learn how to spend and enjoy life to the fullest.