How to say No to friends…when you need to save money

Do you know what the hardest part of clearing down your debt, and building up your savings was?  Learning to say “no”.

It wasn’t saying no to myself. I’m pretty good at that. It’s saying no to the people that I love that was the hardest. 

saying no to friends when on a budget

I heard things like: “Want to grab Starbucks?”, “Adele is at the O2 next month! We have to get tickets!”,“Let’s grab lunch and discuss it”, and “Let’s go see the Avengers!” 

None of these people meant to put me in a tough situation.In fact, they’re my best friends and and I’d do anything for them and love spending time with them. The problem isn’t them, it’s me. 

The truth is, I had the money available to do all of those things. But I had plans for that money. Plans that would mean more to me than seeing Adele in concert. Sometimes, in order to reach our larger goals… we have to sacrifice. I know that I will never reach those giant goals if I spend our money on the small things every week. 

The problem is that I love these people, I don’t want to feel excluded, and I really wanted to spend time with them. It’s a tough situation to be in. I get that. 

After the last few years of juggling this, here’s what I’ve learned… 

1. Talk about your goals. 

For some reason, we don’t want people to think we can’t afford something. I can’t begin to tell you how many things I paid for when I was young and impressionable because I didn’t want someone to think I couldn’t afford it. In reality, I couldn’t afford it and most of those purchases went on credit cards. 

One of the most powerful things that I’ve seen in these last few years is telling people why you’re saving. Whether it be to live debt free, buy a house, take the kids to Disney World, or start a business; when people see what your goals are, they’re inspired to help you achieve them. It also turns “no”from “No, I don’t want to go to Starbucks with you” to “Oooh! I really want to but not enough to screw up my dream of Disney World next year!”

Fun bonus: Talking about your goals for budgeting will likely inspire a few other families to dream big as well. 

2. They don’t want to spend money either. 

Shockingly, the one thing I’ve seen over and over is that once I explain my goals and offer an alternative, most people are more excited about the free alternative. They didn’t want to spend money any more than we did, they just didn’t want to seem cheap. 

3. They care about seeing you, not the movie.

Your friends want to see you. They asked you to go to the cinema because they thought you might like it. Their goal was to hang out with you. Offer an alternative when you say no: “lunch out isn’t in the budget for me.”,“We’re saving up for a house, but if you’d rather come round to mine Saturday for a bite to eat that would be great!” They’re going to jump on the opportunity to see you (and save money!). 

4. Plan to go out. 

I’m not saying that you’ll never spend money on anything fun in your entire life, that would be nuts. If there’s something that you love to do and don’t want to stop, then just plan for it. Stick it in the budget. 

It’s not that I think you should never spend money on anything, it’s that I want you to make well thought out decisions on what to spend money on. 

By knowing that we want to do that and budgeting for it, it makes it easy to say yes!

5. Have a no spend challenge. 

I love no spend challenges! I’ve always done them for 2 weeks before, but we’re about to embark on our first one month long “no spend challenge”.

No spend challenges have a way of making you “find a way”to get what you want/need without spending. I strongly suggest starting any financial makeover with one. 

Learning the art of saying no makes it easier to navigate these situations in the beginning, but I would also caution to choose your friends wisely. I’ve never lost a friend over wanting to spend money, and by definition of the word friend, I don’t think I could. 

That being said, friendship doesn’t have a price tag and if someone thought your money goals weren’t important enough to make admission for, they probably aren’t someone you need in your life. 

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