I have to admit that I am a total ‘yes’ person. I always aim to appease others and can barely say no to a friend or business colleague; no matter how silly their question or request.
It must have something to do with my desire to be liked but I say yes a lot. I have now realised that by saying yes, I am putting my finances and long term goals at risk for things that I quite often don’t actually want to do but am too afraid to disappoint someone.
This is what got me thinking about the power of saying ‘no’ to save money.
How much does saying yes cost you?
Imagine saying no to things you don’t want, don’t like, don’t wish to do or purchase; the amount of things that cost us money because we simply ‘go along with it’ is astounding.
Case in point when a friend recently said to me;
“Want to come see [insert musician] in concert with me? We will grab dinner in the city beforehand and then go and see them play”
I of course said yes. On face value, I was saying yes to a bit of fun. The true value however was $450 to be exact ($250 tickets and $200 worth of food and drinks on the town).
That is a hell of a lot of money to spend on a single night out, especially when I have other pressing financial priorities and things I really need to buy or save for.
I wouldn’t have personally instigated this night out but because a friend asked, I felt like I couldn’t let them down and simply forgot my need to save money.
This again got me thinking. What else do we say ‘yes’ to that end up costing us a lot of money?
Situations we often say yes to that cost us money
Lunch with a co-workers when we have packed a lunch already
All too often I have a friend at work approach me and ask if I want to grab a bite to eat. Often I have pre-prepared my lunch to save money, though I feel like I am always saying no to work people when it comes to lunch requests. As a result, I leave my lunch that I made and opt to go buy a meal to hang out with my work friend.
- Cost: $20 for the lunch, $10 of wasted food – total of $30 gone.
The best way to deal with this situation is to say no, plan a day ahead of time to have lunch at work with people or simply eat your lunch for dinner (if possible).
Bumping into ‘acquaintances’
All too often we bump into old friends or acquaintances. Our parting line tends to be ‘we should catch up’ which often results in a semi-awkward get together somewhere, usually over drinks, that end up costing us a bomb to reunite with someone.
I may sound very cynical, but it does happen. Just because you once knew the person, doesn’t mean to say they are going to have a part in your world ongoing.
Next time you run into someone, think long and hard before committing to catch up elsewhere. It will likely cost you a meal, a bunch of drinks and your personal time.
Expensive birthday celebrations
I don’t mean to sound like a grinch, but could all you people stop getting older and having birthday parties? It seems like every second week we are celebrating someones name day and feel obliged to celebrate by throwing money at bar tenders.
- Cost: A night out can range between $100-$300 (food, drinks, taxis and hangovers).
Why can’t we instead opt for a night at someones house? Sharing good food, wine and stories? What if next time I simply say ‘Sorry, I can’t make it’ and move on? I’d save a lot of money and I’m sure the person wouldn’t hate me.
Engagements, baby showers and weddings
Again, I sound a bit sour – but going to engagements, baby showers and weddings of people I barely know is becoming a never ending black hole of cost.
- Cost: $50-$200 for a present
My new rule? Only say yes to engagements, baby showers and weddings of people I am very close with. Mentally it seems impossible to simply say ‘Sorry, I can’t make it’ without giving a reason – but you don’t have to give a reason – people are busy.
Going out to dinner mid-week when you have already purchased groceries
I often get requests to ‘catch up’ mid-week by going out to dinner. I enjoy this occasionally but it’s a rather costly exercise (both financially and on my waist).
- Cost: $40-$60 + the cost of wasted food
What I have to remember here is that I have many great friends who want to catch up over dinner. If I said yes to everyone, I would be out way too often. There is nothing wrong with politely declining or offering to have the person over for dinner instead.
Group organised ‘social’ activities
We all have a few friends that organise social activity ideas to the wider group of friends. They are great organisers and it’s often a lot of fun. I’ve learnt however that big group activities pressure you into saying yes.
Think lawn bowls, live sporting matches, carols by candle light and more.
- Cost: ~$50+
Next time I will simply politely decline if it’s something I’m not fully into.
How am I going to deal with my yes issue ongoing?
From now on, I am no longer saying yes for the sake of it. The money I make is sacred; every dollar should be valued and I only make so much money. I can’t actually afford to say yes to every idea that is put out there.
To lessen the awkwardness, I am going to be upfront with certain situations. Telling my friends that I can’t make it to the event because money is tight. Similarly I will propose alternative solutions that financially work in my favour; dinners at home, drinks at home, catching up with a bigger group at once to avoid multiple catch ups and the like.