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5 Tips for Living Comfortably on a Budget

Beware Budget Burnout

The fancy-pants media name for budget burnout is "frugal fatigue," (a phrase coined by analyst Paula Rosenblum) and with economic worries escalating, it's the kind of fatigue more people are getting familiar with [source: RSR].In short, frugal fatigue refers to the mental and emotional toll that sets in when you feel like you have to carefully weigh each and every purchase you make.

It doesn't matter whether you're used to having a large disposable income or you're more acquainted with limited spending power. This kind of fatigue can strike anyone who is trying to be more conscientious about limiting unnecessary purchases.

One potential pitfall to frugal fatigue is that eventually you simply get tired of being so deliberate with your money. As a result, you might start splurging unnecessarily, perhaps as a one-time weakness, or as a chronic pattern that threatens to obliterate your savings.

It's important to recognize fatigue if it begins to affect you. If you feel totally bored with budgeting and sick to death of squeezing pennies, you're at risk for a spending bender of sorts. Don't give in to the temptation.

Instead, be creative and kind to yourself and to your family. Splurge and treat yourselves, but be smart about it. Use resources such as Frugalista, Woot or Clark Howard's tips to find cheap deals that let you have a little fun without hemorrhaging big money. By shopping for deals and planning your leisure time around them, you can save scads of cash on everything from food and amusement parks to airline tickets.

And whatever you do, keep tabs on your expenses. If you're in the 42 percent of people who plan to use layaway to buy Christmas gifts, you may want to reconsider how you're spending your money [source: CNN Money]. Remember the first rule of budgeting -- don't spend money you don't have.

Now you know a little more about budgeting, but more important, you understand that while living comfortably has a lot to do with managing your money, creativity helps, too. With a little more forethought, you can alleviate financial stress and have more fun at the same time.