Learning to Say “No”

Hi, friends!  This week’s post is all about learning to say “no.”  I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to overschedule myself.  I like to think I can take on more than I actually am able to (or want to) so I end up being completely exhausted and full of regret for agreeing to do too many things.  Even for normally fun activities, if I have made too many work commitments that week, by Friday evening I am ready to relax at home in my pajamas and go to bed early, not go out for dinner and drinks with friends.

Maybe it’s part of maturing and growing older, but lately I have been making a conscious effort to tailor my schedule to what is best for me and what I enjoy.  Of course, I don’t have the luxury of completely rearranging my schedule to do only what I enjoy, but there is plenty within my control.  Here are some examples:

  • Socializing.  There are two main reasons why I’ve cut back on socializing – cost and health.  Sure, going out to eat is great – you don’t have to cook, you can order food you normally wouldn’t make for yourself, and you may end up with leftovers you can eat for lunch the next day.  Unfortunately, this isn’t an inexpensive lifestyle (maybe the only exception to this is if you’re eating fast food every day) so it is not conducive to my financial independence journey.  It also tends to be a really unhealthy experience for me!  I have a tough time with self-control when I go out to eat.  I always make a plan ahead of time and look at the menu online when possible to decide what I’m going to order but it never fails – once I get to the restaurant the sights and smells sway me to a different, less healthy choice.  I also have some friends who love to go to different casinos in the state and gamble.  I’m not big on gambling but I will play slots or blackjack, which more times than not results in me going home with less money than I started with, not to mention the added expenses of gas, food, and drinks at the casinos.

    Due to these factors, I have been cutting back on socializing.  Lately, if a friend wants to get together, I’ll often suggest a different activity, like going for a walk or going out for a drink or two rather than a whole meal plus drinks.  I used to feel guilty about turning down social activities that I wasn’t extremely thrilled about, but I got over it.  🙂  Saying no to this helps keep me on track with my financial and health goals and also gives me more of an incentive to splurge on the activities I find to be truly enjoyable, like traveling and concerts.

  • Work.  As you probably already know if you’ve read any of my other posts, I waited tables part-time for two years while I was finishing my master’s degree, averaging about 12-15 hours per week.  During this same time frame, I worked as one of Santa’s elves in the mall to help with Santa pictures.  Did I enjoy the extra money?  Absolutely.  I did not, however, enjoy the extra time commitment or the aggravations that came along with a customer service-oriented position.  My new part-time job as an adjunct faculty member more than makes up for the lack of pay from leaving those two jobs, and I can’t even begin to explain how nice it is to get off work from my full-time job at 11 AM on Fridays and know that I can choose to go home, change into my pajamas, and do nothing for the rest of the day because I don’t have to be at the restaurant at 5!  I am thankful to have had the employment when I needed it to pay off my student loans, but being able to say no now has removed a major stressor from my life.
  • Extracurriculars.  Recently, I was asked to consider being the lead costumer for an upcoming community theater production.  I have helped with several shows in the past, and they’re a lot of fun, but also a ton of work.  I agreed to review a script.  The show sounded like fun and the cast is mostly male (which means it’s generally easier to costume than a predominantly female cast), but there were still several characters and quite frankly, I was dreading knowing how many nights I would have to spend at the theater and scouring thrift stores and Amazon for the perfect pieces.  It was then I realized that if I couldn’t even go into it with a positive attitude, it wasn’t going to get any better.  Maybe next time, but for now, saying no freed up a ton of hours.

I think these efforts naturally spill over into your finances as well.  If you can teach yourself discipline and learning how to say no to indulgent purchases or expensive social activities without feeling guilty, your finances will be better in the long term.  I’ve found my weight loss journey to be similar.  Sure, in the moment, I might really want the slice of cake or chocolate chip cookie, but I know that will likely cause me to crave another one later on.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m all about treating yourself, having a “cheat day,” and splurging occasionally, as long as they remain that way – as treats, not a permanent fixture in everyday life.

How strong is your ability to say no to things?  Have you found yourself saying no to more as you’re working to improve your finances?  Let me know in the comments!

Talk to you next week!


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