why being lazy can save you money

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…or why burnout can cost you money

The last two weeks off has given me the chance to catch up on a few trashy novels, picnic in the park with the little fella and nap in the afternoon. I’ve been a little bit lazy and it has been wonderful. I have found that it is healthy (for everyone in the family) if I take some time out every day to be lazy.

Whether you are working or you stay at home, life is busy in the 21st century, despite all our modern conveniences that are meant to make life easier. I teach computers to adults and even the retirees tell me that they are too busy to practice at home.

Are we busy for busyness sake? Do we feel compelled to fill every waking moment with activity? There is a paradox to the Australian cultural identity when it comes to work. On one hand we would describe ourselves as ‘laid back’, on the other we harp on about ‘work ethic’. And for a laid back nation, we are amongst the hardest or longest workers in the world. Part of our need for busyness comes, I think, from our underlying cultural identity.

And all of this busyness leads to burnout.

Taking time out to be ‘lazy’ has multiple benefits for our health, our emotional wellbeing, our relationships and yes, even our finances. It is hard to be frugal when you don’t have the energy to be proactive about your finances. ‘Laziness’ also allows a space for creativity to flourish: without time to sit and stare, it is hard to have those flashes of creative insight that are also integral to a frugal existence.

I started to list some of the reasons why being busy all the time can hinder frugality. At some point, the list turned into a (fictional) diary entry and I just went with it. I’m no Helen Fielding but I’m sure you will forgive that.

Diary of a person too busy to be frugal


I’m bushed. The words ‘no I don’t mind staying for a bit of overtime’ were out of my mouth before I could think. Boss knows I’ll say yes. Too tired to cook. It will have to be takeaway. The line for drive through is out of the car park, partner is in melt down by the time I get home. $25 and a whole lot of wasted petrol later I’m left with a full but greasy feeling. Wash it down with some acid Pepsi.


Menu plan? Shopping list? Who has time for that. What are we going to have for dinner tonight? No idea. Extra trip to the supermarket, microwave meals sound easy, even though they are pretty expensive, and while I’m there, I may as well get some ice-cream, it’s $2 off after all, I’m saving money! And it’s been a busy day, I could do with a pick me up. An hour later and some more petrol gone, but at least we’ve eaten and I don’t have to wash up.


…What are we going to eat for dinner? No idea. Another trip to the supermarket…


Long week. Absolutely exhausted. Better stop off at the bottle shop for a bottle of wine. Hell, let’s have two. Since when did bottle shops have chocolate at the counter? I could go some chocolate though…

Home. Check the mail. What? Late fee? Didn’t I pay that bill? Where did I put the darn thing? Couch time, wine and why not some Butter Chicken? Send partner out for Indian. Open second bottle.


Wake up tired. Coffee. Three coffees. I should do a load of washing. Got to have at least something to wear to work next week. Actually, I could do with a new shirt. Retail therapy here I come. Hey, I’ve been so busy lately, I deserve to splurge on something nice. And it’s for work anyway. It’s always good to have an extra shirt in the cupboard – in case I don’t get time to do the washing this weekend. That’s what the old credit card is for, after all.

I should walk to the shops. Ah, who has the energy for that? Better get the car out. Actually, we could do with a second car…

Hmm, a hole in my sock. Need some new socks as well. Can’t believe people would actually darn socks, when they’re so cheap to replace. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.


The house looks like a bomb has gone off in it. That’s what my mum always said when we were kids. Something smells funky in the fridge. Only one day left of the weekend. Don’t want to waste it cleaning. Too much to do anyway. I don’t know where to start.

Night. Zonked out in front of the TV. Hmmm, ‘get a celebrity body in only 5 minutes a day with only 5 easy payments?’ I could do 5 minutes a day. Muffin top be gone! Where’s the phone? I saw it around here somewhere…


Probably should have serviced the car when it was due. Towed to the mechanics. Thank you Mastercard….

Dang it! I’ve caught a cold, or something. How much for cold and flu tablets? Sigh. Better throw in those throat lozenges as well. Boss will throw a nana if I chuck a sickie now. Nothing like sharing. Hope I don’t have to go to the doc…

Being frugal is about being proactive. Menu planning, reusing and recycling, saving for things, reducing debt, shopping for bargains all involve being proactive with your finances. While it would seem that being lazy is counter-productive to this kind of proactive approach to life, when you are busy and overworked all of the time, you tend to be constantly reactive rather than proactive. You don’t have the energy to be frugal.

Frugality also calls for a certain amount of creative thinking. How do you solve everyday problems with the things that you have on hand and without spending a lot or any money? You need time out to be lazy in order to have the space for creative thinking to happen. The following extract explicates this perfectly:

Let’s face it: the guy who invented the sail was fed up with rowing. The first soul to hop on the back of a horse was too lazy to walk any more. Every major progressive step in society was driven by someone trying to get out of doing any work. Each knew, deep down, that there is always an easier, faster, cheaper, safer, better way of accomplishing a task and that hard work is completely and utterly unnecessary, besides being a monumental waste of life.

So instead of culturing a population of creative, inventive, artistic, peaceful souls who are blissfully basking in their laziness, guiltlessly avoiding all work, and reaping enormous financial, emotional, spiritual, and healthful fruits as a result, our collective mindset has produced a society of superficial, stress-out, unfulfilled hard workers, who achieve little more than a pittance in their lifetimes and then die young. Excerpt from Lazyway.


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  1. Hello Melissa

    Welcome back! So glad you have enjoyed your “lazy” time ;-)

    I really enjoyed reading the diary. It gave me a good laugh at how crazy the pace of life has become. Being too busy and not organised always leads to the undoing of my frugal life strategies!! It is good to be “lazy” :-)


  2. I admit, it’s only partially fictional. I’ve had plenty of weeks like that. In fact, I could go some butter chicken and a bottle of wine right now….

  3. I have realised this the past week or so as I have just started a part-time job. Yes it brings in some extra money, but it is keeping me almost too busy, so the bad habits are slipping back in. Had my first frozen meal in ages tonight, in fact I was eating it as I was reading this post.

    I decided last week that I need my lazy day, well I call it my home day. Yes a fair bit of cleaning, washing, cooking will get done, but there will be no trips to town. No appointments, nothing. The only thing I will allow is a visit to friends.