When I first started getting really, truly frugal, I wanted my debt gone. I knew that in order to do that, I had to stop spending so much damn money on stupid stuff like eating out and shopping. I pictured myself staying home and cooking my meals and it was super cute and fun and happy in my head.
For the most part, these visions came true. I love cooking at home, searching out deals for my purchases, and carpooling to work to save money. It’s not completely picture perfect, but it’s pretty great. That said, there are some instances in life when being frugal and sticking to a budget downright sucks, and one of those situations is when you have to say no to people.
Saying no to invitations for events and dinners out has to be one of the suckiest <– (that’s not a word) feelings of being on a budget. Sometimes saying no can be avoided, like if you have enough notice to plan ahead, but sometimes all you can do is say no. I’ve gotten really good at saying no over the past few years, and here are a few of my tips to help take the sting out:
Don’t say “I don’t have the money” or “I’m too cheap” because those statements generally aren’t true. I always have the money to go out to dinner, or to take a trip, but I choose to do other things with that money, like pay off debt and save. My priorities aren’t eating out with friends or shopping, my priorities are to be financially responsible.
Instead, a better way to phrase it is “That’s not in my budget right now” or “Going to ____ isn’t a priority for me right now”. Most of the time, people will understand your reasoning, and framing your explanation this way shows that it’s not because you don’t want to go, it’s because you want other things more.
Don’t Hate Them
It’s really easy to let negative self talk fill your head when you have to decline an invitation to hang out with friends. Maybe you are jealous because your friend makes 100k a year while you’re struggling to get by on 40k, and phrases like “Must be nice!” start floating around your brain. Maybe you secretly know that the person who invited you has thousands of dollars in credit card debt, and “no wonder she’s going out again, she’s living way beyond her means!”
Stop it. These negative thoughts will just poison the whole situation and will leave you feeling resentful towards your friends. Sure, some of them may be living beyond their means, but some of them aren’t, and they just have priorities that are different from yours. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just, different.
Don’t Hate Yourself
It’s also super easy to slide into a pity party when you have to turn down the 10th invitation for drinks in a month. Woe-as-me, I never get to go anywhere. Yes it sucks, not going out sucks. Not taking vacation sucks. You know what doesn’t suck? Putting that money into savings to have a financial cushion, or paying off a credit card once and for all. The happy feeling you get from a night out or dinner with friends will fade (it’ll actually cause you pain if you drink too much) but financial security will last a long freaking time.
There are fun parts to being frugal. Like batch cooking soups on the weekend, or going to yard sales and scoring a sweet deal on that table you’ve been looking for. In those moments, you get to be a frugal goddess and enjoy the wonderful effect it has on your finances. Being frugal isn’t all fun and games though, it gets tough, and when you have to say no to friends and family, don’t pity yourself. Curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a great book (preferably from the library) and know that your financial future thanks you.
Do you have a hard time saying no to invitations in order to stay on budget? I want to know!