Saying NO to a friend or family member can feel like a high wire exercise. Will drawing a line in the sand break the relationship, or cause long lasting hurt feelings?
We cloak our fear with friendship and begrudgingly agree to do a lot of shit that is detrimental to our financial health.
Why do we do this? Why can’t we say NO when we know that the key to debt freedom is declining these “opportunities”?
Usually it’s out of fear, kindness, or embarrassment that we agree to do things that we know we shouldn’t be doing. We’re willing to take the financial hit so that our friends or family are happy.
Offering our own financial life as tribute… we collapse at home and wish we didn’t have to do whatever it is we agreed to do.
Saying NO is not only reasonable, it should happen far more than it does! Saying NO to friends and family members was a key ingredient in our debt-free journey.
If you’re trying to save money or pay off debt, learning to say NO will be the difference in success and failure.
Why Saying NO Is Important
As adults we often put the feelings of others before our own physical, emotional, and financial well-being. We blindly agree to partake in events even if they are wildly inappropriate for our budget or financial goals.
When you consider that 78% of American’s are living paycheck to paycheck, the request to travel to Paris for a bachelor party begins to feel comical at best.
If you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck or are in debt, these requests must be declined. How can you expect to make any progress if you’re always willing to sacrifice your financial well-being?
Two steps forward and fifteen back isn’t exactly a recipe for financial success…
Setting aside your goals and ambitions to partake in some ridiculous event in the name of “friendship” is absurd.
The requests will continue, the bills will continue and your desire to make a meaningful change will continue.
The only way to break this cycle is to say NO. Put your debt free goals on a pedestal. Own them, love them, and protect them with passion!
The trips will still be there once you’re in a better financial position. I’d even venture to say you’ll enjoy them more when you’re not worried about paying for it next month.
Saying NO is the first step in taking control of your financial life.
How to Say NO
For starters, remember you’re just saying no to a specific idea, or event. You’re not closing out a relationship or shunning a loved one forever.
The taboo around saying NO is built on the foundation of thin skin and miscommunication.
Here are a few tips on how to turn down an invitation without burning bridges.
Explain Why You’re Saying NO
Don’t be ashamed that you have financial priorities in your life. If you’re in debt, lack a comfortable savings or a retirement account, you absolutely must prioritize your financial life.
Let your friends know why you’re saying NO. Let them know exactly where you’re at financially and where you’re trying to go.
If the event is detrimental to your financial life, I’d assume it’s hurting others as well and your friend might benefit from someone dropping some truth on them.
Why would they benefit you ask? Well… common sense isn’t a flower that grows in everyone’s garden and perhaps your honesty will cause some germination in their mental space…
Don’t be ashamed to divulge your financial goals, but you don’t need to go into great detail… at least not yet. A simple explanation should suffice.
Be Direct When Saying No
I work with a few people who struggle to clearly articulate their thoughts. They somehow find a way to respond to a simple yes or no question with a 30 minute dissertation.
Not only is it painful to hear, it comes across as dishonest, or unsure. These people often get bulldozed…
Don’t act unsure of yourself because you’re nervous. Be direct when you respond. The longer you hymn-haw around, the greater the opportunity for persuasion to work its way into the conversation.
Just say “I won’t be able to do [request] because [honest reason].” Simple. Pull that band-aide off!
Remember, you’re saying NO… not looking for ideas on how to make peace with breaking your budget!
Buy Yourself Some Time
Peer pressure is real and it doesn’t stop after high school. As we age, the consequences of caving to peer pressure begin to get extremely expensive. Mistakes typically carry zeros…
If you’re in a group setting and don’t feel comfortable saying NO in front of everyone, buy yourself some time. Let your friend know you’ll have to think about it, check your calendar, or talk to your spouse.
I’ll never understand how someone can blindly agree to do anything that carries a huge price tag. The lack of planning or discussion with their partner is alarming and makes my OCD vibrate.
Once you’ve bought yourself some time, you’ll gain the ability to speak to your friend one on one. Once in this intimate setting, you’ll be able to have a real conversation, and address any hurt feelings that may pop up.
Playing follow the leader while others walk the financial plank is a terrible idea, and you’re going to go ahead and RSVP NO! (high five)
What If Saying NO Goes South?
This might come as a surprise, but some people are going to get upset when you prioritize your financial life over their wants and desires… (shocked face)
Their inability to see the world through your eyes doesn’t make them a bad person, it just means you’ll need to spend some additional time talking them through your reasoning.
If your friend or family member is offended or hurt by being turned down there, are a few things you can do to help repair the relationship.
Are They Really A Friend?
A true friend isn’t built around events. It’s built on a foundation of truth, acceptance, and mutual respect.
The sooner you understand that and willingly cut the cord on those “friends” who only want you to pick up the tab on their next extravagant vacation, the sooner you’ll achieve your next financial goal.
Consider who you’re already saying NO to. Most likely it’s those closest to you. You are able to draw lines in the sand with them because you know that your relationship is built on a strong foundation.
If saying NO ruins your friendship, make peace with that fact you’ve weeded a toxic person out of your life. Debt should not create friendships.
Offer A Compromise/Alternative
If you’re not able to attend a trip or party, plan an event for the two of you to hang out. You’ll have some control over this and will be able to fit it into your budget.
Personally, I think a compromise is a great way to say NO. After all… friendships are about spending time together, not just taking trips and spending money!
If your friend cares about you as a person, they will greatly appreciate your desire to meet them in the middle.
Plan an alternative and be prepared to offer it up.
Is It Your Problem?
Sometimes it’s not your problem that someone is wildly offended by your rational response.
Don’t feel guilty if you’re not able or willing to break your budget to match someone else’s financial idiocracy.
Is it really your problem that your friend is pissed off you don’t want to take that trip to Mexico? No… No, it’s not.
They aren’t going to pay your bills when you’re trying to recover from this ill-planned event. That responsibility will fall onto your shoulders…
Offer An Explanation
Let your friends/family know that you do care about them, but you’re just not able to make this work. It doesn’t fit into your budget, or your financial plan right now.
I don’t believe we talk about our finances enough. Be prepared to give a detailed explanation if your friend is offended.
Remember, true friendships are built on a foundation of honesty, and that’s exactly what you’re going to be… Honest!
Talk about your debt, or your savings goals. Show them how this request will have a negative impact on your life. Stop feeling guilty about not having the money right now, and own this decision.
Saying NO stings… but hearing exactly why someone is saying NO makes that pain go away quickly. Your true friends will not only understand you, they will support you!
Sure, they may be disappointed you can’t attend, but it won’t create long lasting damage to the foundation of your friendship.
Those who are merely acquaintances will fade into the sunset, taking their ridiculous financial requests with them. Can’t win them all (shrug)
Saying NO Final Word
Prioritizing your financial life shouldn’t carry a stigma. It’s not selfish, self-absorbed or rude. It’s rational adult thinking that leads to financial success!
Achieving financial freedom requires hard work and dedication to the cause. It’s hard to imagine a way to turn around your financial life without saying no to high priced request…
Make today be the day that you shed the taboo around saying NO and take control of your financial life.
Your true friends will still be there long after you achieve your financial goals!
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