Just say no!

Since I have been on my journey towards simplicity and frugality I have learned a lot – about myself, the people around me and society in general, especially our attitudes towards money. There is no doubt that we live in a spend now, worry later society. It is still easy to get credit, with lenders seeming to be rather casual about whether we can afford to pay our debts back or not. 

The pressures on us all to achieve the perfect lifestyle are huge! We measure success in terms of wealth: we need to live in a nice house, drive a new car, wear designer clothes, have an expensive annual holiday. If we get married we should look at a £20k budget minimum. We might even consider a few thousand on plastic surgery to sort out our perceived imperfections. 

You might achieve all of these things yet lie awake at night in a fit of anxiety worrying about how you are going to pay for it all. You only have to look at the dramas the rich and famous endure to see that all this surface stuff is no guarantee of happiness, even if you can afford it. 

So, number 1 on my list of ways to save money is – learn to say no! To yourself, your children, your partner and to friends and family. Your girlfriends invite you on a weekend to Amsterdam – you have a huge overdraft but could add it to the credit card…don’t do it! Your daughter wants a new tablet NOW. She can save up for it or wait until Christmas! You have to go to a smart work do or a wedding and NEED a new outfit. Do you? Is there really nothing in your wardrobe that will do? Ignore the TV ad telling you that a new sofa before Christmas is essential. You parked your bum on the old one perfectly happily all year so why take on a major expense with all those presents to buy?

If you have a supportive partner helping you control your finances you are very lucky. If you don’t then you need to sit them down, show them the current state of your bank balance and make a plan together. If you can get your partner on board (and children too if they are old enough to understand) you are in the first step to getting your relationship with money back on track. If you can’t, your relationship with each other is bound to suffer horribly. 

Whatever you need to save money for, to pay off your debts, to retire early, to save for a house deposit or your wedding, or just to get by, saying no will be key. I don’t mean you can’t have any fun. There are so many experiences in life that cost very little or even nothing. It’s not about deprivation, it is about accepting your financial limitations and being more creative and appreciative of what you have. This is very liberating!

This is my intention. I will see friends, I will have a cheap holiday and I will buy a small number of inexpensive things when they are really needed. But gone are the days when I will max out the credit cards to book a break, feel pressured to meet friends in an expensive restaurant or be persuaded to have a store card with a high interest rate when I want to purchase clothes.

How about you? Can you say no?

10 thoughts on “Just say no!

  1. Margaret Powling

    Yes, but saying No was not an option years ago, it was compulsory … if there were insufficient funds in the bank account, one just had to say No! When we married, credit cards were a thing of the future, people simply had to pay their way and not get into debt. Indeed, debt was an awful thing to be in and then along came credit cards and debt, which had hitherto been unacceptable, became credit, which was acceptable (or it pretended to be. It’s still debt to me – I mean credit card bills which aren’t cleared at the end of each month.)
    When we had difficulty paying our way, when the cost of living escalated in the 1970s, when inflation was around 24% if I remember that far back, we went to our Bank Manager when such people were stern and you went metaphorically cap-in-hand. We opened a budget account, so that some months we were in the black and some months in the red, but if was necessary for the account to balance at the end of the year. It taught us to budget carefully. And of course, holidays which everyone now seems to think of as compulsory (“we work hard, we deserve a holiday!” … Well, you might deserve it, but if you can’t afford it, then don’t flippin’ have it!) weren’t the big things they are today. People just didn’t go abroad, they stayed at home and relaxed and went on days out instead. We did house exchanges which only cost our petrol (we took our food with us or bought things locally.) I know times have changed and today it is perhaps more difficult for people to say No. But saying No really is the best way out of debt or, if you are not in debt, then the best way to save.
    Margaret P
    http://www.margaretpowling.com
    Margaret P

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  2. Pam

    Great post, thank you.
    Such good advice, I have always been careful and thrifty and it has served me well.
    i worry for the younger generation who throw caution to the wind.
    Pam in Texas.

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  3. Cathy

    My friend went bankrupt for £17,000 not a huge amount you might say but she was on benefits. The powers that be stopped some of the amount she was entitled to for 6 months which was their mistake in the end. but As she was already behind with just about everything it pushed her under. So easy to get several credit cards and loans even if you are not working It’s all wrong as they should take up bank and employment references before issuing the cards. Another person I know has 20k on credit cards and is only working part time. Citizens Advice are helping her sort it out.

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  4. Eloise

    I too have read that a wedding costs 20k, but two of my children have recently married with little expense spared….they have had everything they wanted and have married in very smart hotels. In neither case did the cost come anywhere near that amount. In fact, both have said that they can’t imagine what on earth you would spend that much on. I think the amounts they have paid out (7-8k) is outrageous but it is still a long way short of twenty thousand. I do think that some of these reports pluck figures out of thin air.

    On another note, I have to say ‘no’ very often and I don’t like it one bit but on the plus side I have no debt whatsoever and that is a good feeling.

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  5. Sam

    Your blog reminds me of the old Tightwad Gazette from the early “90’s, and that’s a high compliment. Amy Decisyn (?) books were my new home financial management training. I still watch spending, but thanks to sound advice, we never dealt with financial calamity

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