how to say no


I have a problem. A pretty big problem actually. I am a yes person. I admit it. I like to say yes. I’m a people pleaser. I do not like to say no, especially to people that I love. But I also don’t like to say no to complete strangers. Isn’t that silly? And while saying yes has opened opportunities to me throughout my life, being a yes person has also gotten me into trouble a number of times, not the least of which has been with my personal finances (particularly in my 20’s). The truth is, you shouldn’t say yes to everything, especially when it comes to your personal finances.So, if you’re a yes person like me, here are a few tips on how to say no when it comes to spending or doing things that will harm your personal finances.

There are a number of contexts in personal finance in which you need to learn how to say no. Let’s start with expensive social gatherings, shall we?


One of the most difficult things for me to say no to is expensive social gatherings. I like to be social and I hate saying no to friends generally! It’s hard. Especially given that we are in our thirties now and many of our friends are established financially (not having spent a decade of their lives in college ha). We want to spend time with our friends, but we don’t always want (or sometimes just really can’t) spend a ton of money. I’ve found the best way to say no to expensive social gatherings is by simply saying no in a short, firm, gracious way. Really, that is all  you have to do. I loved this article from the Washington Post’s Miss Manners– all you have to do is graciously decline. Unless it is someone’s big life event (like your best friend getting married) you don’t need to come up with some lengthy excuse. Just simply say something along the lines of, “I wish we could make it but we can’t.”

Another idea is to provide an alternative to the expensive social gathering. We had friends who wanted to go to a really expensive haunted house one Halloween. We suggested a free pumpkin patch and corn maze instead, and everyone went for it. We got to spend time with our friends and didn’t have to feel bad about spending money we didn’t have.


Another thing that can be hard to say no to are items that you simply don’t need. This can happen in a lot of different contexts from social pressure to literally almost everything inside Target jumping out at you while you’re supposed to be grocery shopping. How do you say no to the cute girl scout standing outside the grocery store selling delicious overpriced girl scout cookies?? The same way you say no to expensive social gatherings. You simply say no in a firm but kind way. “No thank you!” with a smile. I’ve literally had to tell my self “NO” firmly outloud when I’ve wanted to buy something at a store that was not in my budget. Like a lot of times.

One thing that has really helped me is by reminding myself of my financial goals. I want to get out of debt. Buying crap that I don’t need is not going to help me achieve that goal– it’s going to put me behind. Keeping my priorities in check helps me say no easier. So the next time you’re tempted to buy something you don’t need (or perhaps that you don’t really even want), think to yourself, Is this choice going to lead me closer to or further away from my financial goals?

[Related: See Deeply in Debt’s Posts on Frugal Living


Whether it’s getting sucked into the vortex that is social media or getting talked into watching your best friends cousins little sister’s friend’s soccer game, it can be tricky to say no to things that aren’t a good use of your time. But think about it. Time is literally the most valuable thing you have. It’s something you’ll never get back. It is more expensive than anything. If you could be spending your time on your job or a side hustle, it can be expensive in the very real and literal sense of what I’m saying here. If you can’t learn to say no to other things, you MUST at least learn to say no to things that waste your time. If its an invitation to attend something you don’t want to attend, simply graciously decline. If you catch yourself scrolling through Instagram or lost in the realm of Netflix, say NO to yourself and then physically get yourself up and go do something else. Life is too short to be wasted on stupid crap. You don’t need to invent excuses that aren’t real or elaborate on why you are declining something. Just tell the truth and be gracious. The people around you will understand. (And if they don’t, there’s a good chance that those aren’t the people you should have around you).


You can learn how to say no and it’s probably easier than it feels right now. Remember to be firm but kind, provide alternatives, remind yourself of your financial goals, and be honest. Just like any other skill, figuring out how to say no takes practice. But the more you practice, the easier it gets.

If saying no is a real problem for you in all aspects of your life, I highly recommend the book “Best Yes” by Lysa Terkeurst. Basically her premise is that you should say no to more things so that you can say yes to the best things which will give your life more meaning and purpose. Saying no to some things allows the things you say yes to, to be better.

how to say no

Do you struggle saying no to things? How do you cope? Drop a comment below! 

If you are ready to say no to debt and overspending, make sure you grab our FREE Debt Payoff Starter Kit here.

how to say no

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