The Power of Saying No

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The power of saying no


That one simple word can wield so much power is amazing. It’s often the first word children learn to speak. It’s a word my dog is terrified of, literally cowering when she hears it (she was a rescue, the poor thing). It’s a word that many of us have to learn how to say without feeling guilty.

While most of us associate the word with negative feelings, it’s a word we shouldn’t be afraid to say. Saying “no” can be the difference between staying on track financially and starting the slip into ruin.

Let’s take a look at some real-life examples.

The Power of Saying No

1. I was on the way home from a fasting bloodwork appointment. Man was I ever hungry. I wanted so badly to stop at the fast food joint and get a burrito. I mean, it’s not even that expensive. Two small burritos, a hashbrown, a soda…$5 and 800 calories. Wait. 800 calories?? Yeah. Not only is that bad for my body, it’s bad for my wallet. $5 today and unspoken permission for me to do this every time I have my monthly bloodwork. $5 today and a quick $3 snack tomorrow.

Ok so let’s do the math on the money here. I don’t work a 9-to-5 anymore, but when I did that $5 would have represented an entire 30 minutes of working at a job I hated with all of my soul. These days that $5 isn’t as important to my bottom line, it’s more about the permission I’ve given myself to slip up. There isn’t a darn thing wrong with slipping out for fast food once in a while, but I know myself and I know that one slipping out WILL turn into 4 or 5. I also know that when I start eating fast food I begin to crave it, and that isn’t good for any of us. Not to mention it would take many HOURS of walking to burn those calories.

The result: I stopped at a grocery store and bought two foot long veggie subs. I spent $10 but those two subs fed me and 5 kids for a mere 400 calories each, and our entire day’s worth of veggies.

2. My child wanted to play a community sport. The cost associated with joining was astronomical, definitely out of our budget. When I added in the cost of needed equipment, uniforms, driving to practice 5 days a week 45 minutes from home, the cost of traveling to play other teams and the cost of having dinner outside of the home so often (even if it was picnic-style); well there was just no way we could afford it.

What I do: Knowing that my child was more interested in trying the sport and socializing rather than actually playing, I told her no. I encouraged her to find friends who were interested in meeting casually to play, offering to help connect her with other kids her age. I encouraged her to save her money to buy equipment to get started, to see if she was still interested after a few weeks and to help pay for the team fees (which were in the hundreds of dollars!) I even suggested she look for a community sport that didn’t require as much of a time or financial commitment. I told her that I would help her but left a lot of it up to her, figuring that if she really, really wanted to play this sport she’d find a way to make it happen (or at least ask me to help her make it happen.)

The result: The desire quickly faded when she saw how much work and money was needed, as I suspected it would.

3. A few years ago my oldest child decided that she wanted to wear brand-name clothing only. I highly suspect it had something to do with fitting in at school, but that’s another topic for another time. While I’d like to give my daughter everything she wants, I simply cannot. I can’t afford to give into her every want, first of all. Secondly, she’s old enough to know that we only get the things we want (and need) by working for them.

What I do: When it’s time to buy clothing I tell her what the budget is. I let her pick where we look but I try to steer her toward discount outlets. If she wants something that is more than what we have budgeted she has to come up with the difference. Ultimately, as long as the clothing meets my modesty guidelines (which is harder and harder to do it seems), the decision of what to buy is up to her.

The results: My daughter has developed a taste for discount shopping, she understands now that $50 can get her one or two name-brand shirts or an entire outfit and shoes. She recently volunteered at a masquerade ball that required formal dress, she picked a dress that cost $15 purchased new at a discount store. While buying used clothing is always an option, we’ve had much better luck shopping at discount retailer, it must be something about our area but the Goodwill charges as much as everywhere else!

4. Another child likes to go out with friends. They never ask directly for money, but the things they want to do take money that I know they doesn’t have. $60 for a ticket to a theme park’s holiday party. $30 to go to a concert. $20 to get lunch when she goes out with a friend.

What I do: I first ask “Do you have the money to do this?”, which is usually responded to with “No, but I can work around the house.” *sigh* This one really hits me hard. I wish I could just say yes but the fact is, I’m not an ATM. Sometimes working around the house for a financial reward is alright, but it shouldn’t be a given. In other words, I don’t pay children to do household chores, especially the things that are required for everyday living (washing dishes, folding laundry, sweeping, etc.) I usually don’t say no, but I let the child know that I cannot and will not give them money every time they ask to go out.

Now that I have an adult child and another who is almost an adult, I let them know that I have plenty of sibling babysitting jobs available, and my 17 year old son almost always takes me up on that offer! I get a few hours child-free (at a good price) for my appointments and he earns some money!

The result: My child has learned how to say no to her friends, even the ones who keep pestering her and asking why we just won’t give her money (that one really irks me and it’s starting to irk my daughter too!) My daughter has started saving some of the money she earns from babysitting and other odd jobs, and she sometimes schedules going out around meals or packs a meal to take with her.

Learning to say “no” to the things that cost too much, financially and time-wise, is freeing; and it’s one of the best things we can teach our children. Do you agree?

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