5 Ways to Save Money by Learning How to Say ‘No’

A woman crossing her arms in an X

Saying “no,” especially to the people you love, can be one of the hardest things to do. But if you’re living on a budget, saying “yes” too often can drain your bank account pretty quickly. Of course, you’d love to see a movie or a concert with your friends and family, but could you save the money to use elsewhere this week? 

The right thing to do isn’t always the easy thing, and telling loved ones “no” is an example of this. Sometimes you just have to do it, no matter how persistent your friends are or how badly you want to say “yes.”

Saving money sometimes means saying no to friends who spend, resisting your own spending habits, and saying no to job opportunities that aren’t worth your time. Here are some ways to make it a little easier. 

1. Get Comfortable Saying “No”

Saying “no” to anything can be tough for some people. You don’t want to come across as mean or rude, nor do you want to disappoint the person asking you. Something as simple as saying “no” out loud, to yourself can help give you a little practice in just being able to say it. 

Also, know that you and your time are valuable, and you’re allowed to say no to things. You should never feel pressured or obligated to commit to something.

2. Know Your Priorities

If you’re saying “no” to commitments to save money, you should know what you’re saving for. By keeping your goals in mind at all times, you can remember that a saying no to one thing means saying yes to something else. You may not be able to see your friends this weekend, but that means more cash goes toward, say, vacation savings. 

Vocalizing your goals and priorities can help other people understand too. Instead of just shutting down ideas, explain to people why you’re saving and what your plans are. More often than not, they’ll understand. 

3. Don’t Keep Up With the Joneses 

A lot of unnecessary spending can be linked to social status. Whether you have a lot of money saved up or not, it’s human nature to spend on things to keep up with others. If all your friends get new iPhones, you’ll naturally feel the need to get one too. While none of your friends will peer pressure you into buying a new phone, say “no” to trying to keep up with the Joneses. 

4. Get Ahead of Things

There’s nothing wrong with saying “no,” but you never want to put yourself in a position where you have to back out of a commitment. Obviously, the best way to do this is to directly and definitively tell people “no,” but you can choose to be more proactive as well.

Instead of waiting for plans to turn down, tell the people closest to you when you expect to have free time but why you don’t want to do anything expensive. Just like how voicing your goals can help people understand why you’re saying “no,” getting ahead of things can help you stay connected with friends and family while finding ways to save money.  

5. Say “No” to Yourself

Saying “no” to other people can be hard, but saying “no” to yourself can be downright impossible sometimes. In the end, this is the only “no” that truly matters. Sticking to a budget and saving money takes hard work, but you need to be disciplined enough to take control of your finances. 

Not only do you need the discipline to keep yourself from saying “yes” to others, but you also need to say “no” to yourself independently too. Think about any bad spending habits you may have and consciously think of ways to change. That’s not to say you should never indulge yourself in moderation, but self-control and saying “no” can go a long way in improving your finances.

Learn how to save now and retire early: Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) Explained.