It’s Okay to Say No!

Seriously. It’s okay. Don’t feel bad about it.

Tina Fey says in her book Bossypants, “Say yes, and you’ll figure it out later.” I love me some Tina Fey but this seems like a risky life policy, especially when it comes to finances. It’s great to say yes to new opportunities, to adventures, and to challenges. But you can’t do it all. And unless you’re Bill Gates, you definitely can’t pay for it all. It’s tempting to buy something you want now and figure out how to pay for it later. If it’s a $3 coffee you want, this plan might work. If it’s a $30,000 car, not so much. Successful budgets take thought, planning, and some self-restraint. Learning to say no is essential to financial success.

I don’t know about you, but saying no can be REALLY difficult for me. This is especially true when I’m saying no to paying for something I want. We all want to buy that pretty dress we saw on Mod Cloth. We all want to go on that spring break vacation with our roommates. We all want to throw our older sister the most awesome bachelorette of all time. Plus as a girl, I think I might be physically conditioned to say yes to everything. Saying no often makes me feel uncomfortable or worse, it can make me feel like I’m letting people down. Don’t give into saying yes just because it’s easier. If you struggle to say no, here are 3 easy steps you can take to make the negative seem a little more positive.


1. Take a deep breath before you say it. I often find myself agreeing to things before I really think about them. My default setting is YES! But oftentimes once I’ve had a minute to think about it, I find I’ve yes’d myself into something I don’t really want to do. I try to avoid this by pausing before I agree to anything; having a minute to take a deep breath gives me time to check in with how I truly feel about the question. If it’s still a yes after the breath, then great! If it’s a no, I feel more confident in my refusal since I’ve thought things through.

2. Offer another possible solution. Saying no can be easier if it’s not the end of the sentence. Let’s say your friends really want you to go out to dinner and a movie with them but you don’t have the cash in your budget for it this week. Just saying, “No,” is sad and final. Or if you give a reason like, “No, I don’t have enough money,” your friends might try to talk you into splurging. But a, “No, I can’t swing that in my budget right now. How about we cook dinner and have a movie marathon at home instead?” presents an alternative that works for everyone. They get to hang out, have dinner, and watch a movie and you get to save money.

3. Think about all the times you’ve said Yes! Guilt is often the biggest reason we cave and do something we don’t want to. Whether is breaking your budget or working extra hours, you don’t want to disappoint anyone, including yourself. Assuage some of that guilt by reminding yourself of all the things you have said yes to recently. Maybe you had to pass on that weekend road trip, but you were able to pay off your credit card this month, redecorate your bathroom, and get tickets to that Ed Sheeran concert. Thinking of what you were able to pay for can make turning down other purchases worth it.

Remember, no isn’t a four-letter word! It’s not wrong to say no to things that aren’t in your budget or don’t match your financial goals. If you need to, say that no loud and say it proud. 🙂


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