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What if you had a secret power to save more money?
We all know saving money can be hard.
It’s no wonder that so many people barely have $500 in their savings account. There is pressure everywhere telling us to spend more money, and buy more things.
And so many times I want to spend money on things I LOVE, but there doesn’t seem to be money left over.
I’m looking at you awesome bike gear and more dates with my wife.
But what if you had a simple strategy to stop spending money on crap you don’t need? Stuff that stresses you out, like that pot luck at work that you don’t really want to go to anyway.
The good news? You can save money on useless spending, and it’s a lot easier than you think.
In the next few minutes, I’ll teach you our simple system to save money for things we WANT to spend money on, instead of things we feel like we have to spend money on.
And as a bonus, you’ll feel less stressed and frustrated, and more fulfilled when you spend your money on things that move you closer to your real life goals.
When you spend money on things you love that bring you joy, budgeting gets a whole lot more fun!
Why Does Spending Money have to be SO Stressful?
Let me tell you a story about stressful spending. Hopefully you’ve never been in a situation like this (but I’m willing to guess you have).
We have a friend who LOVES celebrating her birthday. Every year it’s a big event, and every year it stresses us out.
We love our friend, but the birthday celebration usually involves spending $50-100 for a night out at dinner.
Last year my wife planned ahead so she could attend and saved $50 of her personal allowance to cover the cost we were told to expect. (if you want to read more about why we give personal allowances – click here and read more)
The host of the party underestimated the cost per person and dinner ended up costing us about $120 instead.
That’s $70 over budget!
We don’t even spend that much when we go out to eat. Or for our birthdays.
We’re budgeters. We plan for every single dollar we make and spend it with great intentionality.
It was supposed to be a fun night out and it turned into stress and frustration, and to this day, that is what we remember from this night.
It wasn’t fun and could’ve been avoided with a simple word, and my only super power.
How can saying NO save you money?
The story of my friend’s birthday paints a picture that happens FAR too often.
I’m sure you can think of a time when you went to an event you didn’t really want to go to – maybe your cousin’s wedding or a Christmas party for work.
The invite comes in the mail and all of a sudden
- You start wondering how important it is if you ACTUALLY go (Does your cousin Wendy really want you to go? Will she notice if you don’t?
- You think, “how well do I actually know Wendy?
- Where is it at? – will we have to drive far, get a hotel, buy a gift off the registry?
- How much money is this going to cost us?
- What will people think if we don’t go?
There’s so much social pressure that goes along with these events, and it can really put a strain on your budget.
Here’s a secret.
You don’t have to attend every event you get an invitation to.
YOU CAN SAY NO.
Let’s run two scenarios for Wendy’s make believe wedding.
Scenario 1 – You Choose to go to the Wedding
You open the invitation, and after weighing the pros and cons, you give into the social peer pressure to go to Wendy’s wedding.
(Maybe you were gung ho and excited about the wedding. I’m not saying that every event you get invited to creates stress, but it has HUGE potential to break your budget and when you feel strapped for cash, stress usually follows close behind)
In case you haven’t been to an out of town wedding for a while, let’s break down the costs.
All of these figures come from a study done by Wedding Wire in 2019.
Of course all of this depends on the distance you have to travel, and whether you find a way to avoid paying for accommodations or new clothes.
Scenario 2 – You Say NO to the Wedding and Maybe Choose to Send a Gift
No fancy chart needed for this scenario.
After thinking about the costs of hotels, traveling, a gift, maybe a dress or new dress shirt, and the possible stress that goes along with traveling, you send the RSVP back marking “regretfully decline”.
The only expense is a gift from the registry or a check in the mail. You save a ton of money and you avoid all of the social awkwardness that sometimes comes with out of town weddings.
All because you chose to say no and save money for higher priorities.
And you can choose to spend $0 if you decide your budget can’t fit a gift into it.
Here’s another example of social pressure to spend money. Sending a gift or money when you don’t go to the wedding.
It’s probably the best practice to send a gift.
But I’d argue that if it hurts your budget and you have to resort to slapping it on a credit card, it might be wiser to just send a card, or save up to send them a gift later.
Saying No Helps You Save Money for Things that Align with Your Money Goals
I’m a HUGE fan of aligning your budget and spending to the things that matter most in your life.
In general, your spending should reflect your goals and values.
- Emergency savings (COVID has taught us a lot about the importance of this)
- Family vacations
- Getting out of debt
- Getting married
- Buying a house
- Starting a family
- A reliable vehicle
- Saving for college
- Giving to charity
When we started budgeting, getting out of debt was priority #1. We made an intentional plan and said no a lot so we could be debt free in 5 years. In the end, it was worth every small sacrifice we made and every missed social event.
All of these things are likely a higher priority than weekly drinks after work.
No matter how much fun you have with friends, you spend more time with your family, and therefore it makes sense to spend more money investing in them.
When you say yes to spending money on things that don’t align with your goals and priorities, you’re choosing to delay the things you truly care about for things that are far less important to you.
You’re replacing your dreams and goals with things that cause you stress, anxiety, and frustration.
Why would anyone want to do that?
Is social and peer pressure really that worth it?
The Simple Answer is NO
Let me give you an example.
I LOVE baseball.
I’m a Minnesota Twins fan through and through, and if I could choose one sport to watch for the rest of my life, I would choose baseball in a heartbeat.
In my dream world, I would watch games on TV a few times a week, and make the 2 hour drive to the stadium at least 5 times a year.
That would get very expensive, very quickly.
Here are a few things I say NO to when it comes to Twins baseball:
- Cable – I could watch almost every game at home
- Watching games in person – I go to one game every year. The home opener.
- Constantly going out to watch games at bars and restaurants
- Ordering food when I go out to watch games. I limit myself to one drink, or I drink water
That’s A LOT of saying no, especially when I have a few friends that invite me out a few times a month to watch games with them.
I occasionally go out, and when I do, I stick to my personal or community budget. I learned a long time ago that I don’t need to spend a lot of money with friends to have fun.
It’s fun just to be with my friends.
How much do I actually save on baseball by saying no?
That’s pretty easily over $1,000 I save every year just by saying no to a few wants.
And that doesn’t even factor in the time spent watching games.
That money can go so much farther in helping me reach my real, family goals instead. And that aligns a lot more with my values than watching baseball.
Instead, I spend time reading articles, getting live updates on my phone, and checking out the highlights on the internet.
My baseball love is satiated, and I save more money and time. I call that a win.
And I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on all that much by saying no either.
How to Say NO without Feeling like a Cheapskate
Of course there are risks to saying no to social events or spending money on things like dinners and gifts.
- People might think you’re cheap
- You might get invited out less (I’ve definitely experienced that)
- People may worry that it will be awkward or that you won’t want to spend the money.
But you don’t need to spend money so that other people feel comfortable or have a better opinion of you.
How can you say NO and not be viewed as a cheap, penny pinching weirdo?
- Be honest with your friends and family.
- Be open about your goals and priorities.
- Find other ways to express love, kindness, and show people you value them.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to save money and be frugal, without being cheap, this is a great article. Head over and read it when you’re done with this one. ?
Start Saying NO More Often to Save Money Now
It might feel really hard to say no to your friends and family.
They might not understand and it might create a little stress and discomfort in your relationships.
But remember, the best thing you can do is to be OPEN and HONEST with your friends and family.
When we were working our butts off to get debt free, we stopped going out to eat.
100% cold turkey.
And we didn’t apologize for it.
Instead, we were upfront with our friends and family and told them that we were working hard to pay off our debt, and eating out and getting drinks wasn’t a priority for us.
However, we made it clear that we still wanted to hang out with them, and if they invited us out, we’d still most likely say yes to go hang out with them.
But we wouldn’t buy food or drinks.
And if it was a situation where buying food or drinks was expected or necessary, we said no to the entire event because we didn’t have space in our budget.
Our budget is a list of our priorities and spending money out to eat wasn’t a priority. Therefore, it wasn’t in our budget.
Read that again ??
Do you have any expenses that you avoid because they aren’t a priority?
If something is a priority, PUT IT IN YOUR BUDGET! If it’s not a priority, get rid of it.
Eventually our friends stopped being awkward and we moved on. We still hung out with them, our friends invited us out, and we had a blast drinking water.
We saved HUNDREDS of dollars every month because of the power of saying no, and didn’t miss many opportunities to be with people we loved and valued.
It required more intentional planning and self discipline, but we’re so glad we learned to say no and invest money into higher priority goals.
And it’s something you can do to, and start saving more money now.
Tips to Help You Save More Money
The 30 Day Rule
I LOVE this trick to save more money and avoid impulse buying!
Here’s how it works.
You see something you want to buy. It honestly doesn’t matter what it is.
Let’s say it’s a new accessory for your bike.
Instead of buying it when you get the urge…
For 30 days.
If at the end of 30 days, you’re still dreaming about this bike accessory, or constantly feel like it will make biking more fun or easier, then it’s probably something you actually want and will use.
If you’ve forgotten about it after 30 days, it clearly wasn’t something you needed, and you saved money instead for higher priorities.
Walk Around the Store Before You Buy
This is really similar to the 30 day rule.
My wife does this all the time.
When we’re wandering through Target, she sees a shirt or pair of earrings she likes. But she’s not sure if she likes them enough to spend her personal money on it.
So, she sets it in the cart or carries it around the store while we look at other things we need.
While we’re shopping, she mulls over how much she really wants the earrings and if it’s worth the money she’ll spend on them.
9 times out of 10, by the time we’re done shopping, she puts the earrings back on the shelf.
Given the time to think rationally about her purchase, she avoids an impulsive, emotion driven expense. Now she can save her money for things she cares about more, like scrapbooking. ?
10 Things to Say NO to to Help You Save More Money (and Spend Less)
I hope by now you’ve realized the money saving power of saying no to stuff you don’t really care about, or things that aren’t a high priority in your life.
To help you grow your new super power of saying no, I made a list of 10 things to say no to.
When you say no to things, you give yourself the power to say yes to things you actually are about.
Eating out with friends – just grab drinks instead (or go out for dessert). I already shared how much money we saved by not spending money out at restaurants. Even if you cut back a little, you’ll be surprised at how much you save.
Secret Santa and other work related holiday expenses – you might love your coworkers, but is spending money on them a high priority in your budget? Is something else more important? Plus, shopping for people you might not know well can be stressful. And they may HATE what you got them and never use it. Money well wasted.
Last minute events – these are the worst. I’m a planner, so I like to plan ahead and work money into our budget for important events. If you didn’t already plan on spending money, say no. Or say yes, but avoid spending money.
Birthday and Christmas gifts – again, this comes back to priorities. You may LOVE gift giving, and if that’s the case, create a budget category in your budget for it. But just because you commit to buying gifts, doesn’t mean you have to give a gift to EVERYONE. It’s okay to pick and choose. Most people won’t even notice, especially if you’re upfront and honest with them.
Say no to ALL of the streaming services – pick and choose one or two you LOVE. You can always share an account with a close friend or family member to save a little extra.
Bachelor/bachelorette parties – if you’re in the wedding party, it might be hard to avoid this. But, you can use some of the other tips I’ve mentioned to help you save money if you HAVE to be there. Set a budget and stick to it. More drinks and food don’t equate to more fun.
Weekend getaways – hotels, restaurants, travel, and shopping add up really fast. If you’re going with your family, save money in a sinking fund so you can spend guilt free. If you get invited by friends, it’s easy to say no and catch up with them when they come back. Maybe invite them over for a back deck grill out instead?
Office work parties – might be fun, but chances are you’ll just talk shop and pay extra money to do it. My favorite way to allocate money for social get togethers is our “community budget”. Anytime we hang out with friends or coworkers, we can use money from our $50 of community budget. It also helps us prioritize which events to go to and which relationships we want to invest money and time into. Usually work events don’t make the cut.
Birthday dinners/birthday gifts for friends – I already shared a story about how birthday dinners can get out of hand, especially when you think of buying a gift for your adult friend. If it’s a close friend, and a valuable relationship, absolutely say yes and stick to your budget. If it’s more of an acquaintance, save the money and tell them happy birthday over social media. They’ll still feel the love.
Any event you feel obligated to go to, and will stress you out if you DO go – there are so many more events than I can possibly list here, so here’s a good rule of thumb. If you feel obligation instead of excitement for the event, or if you feel stressed just thinking about it. SAY NO. It’s not worth spending money to feel stress and regret.
What’s more important to you?
I’m a people pleaser, and I don’t like the idea of stressing people out or causing emotional pain.
But at the end of the day, what’s more important to you?
- Your budget?
- Stress levels?
- Life goals?
Or would you rather those things suffer so you can meet the expectations and obligations of other people who probably won’t notice or care if you spend money on them or not?
I’d argue that your budget and the goals of YOUR family are more important.
Are you ready to start using your new superpower to say NO and save money for what really matters?
I’ve learned the hard way that saying NO can save you loads of money.
And now that you know the power of saying No, it’s time to start integrating your priorities into your budget.
The NEXT step is to read this blog post on how to create a budget based on your values and priorities.
What things would you rather say No to so you can save money for things you care about?