For me, I´ve learned how to say no to my friends over the years. It was at university where I learned that lesson. I would just go out to eat with whomever, whenever. I would go out for drinks five out of seven nights a week. I would go on weekend trips, festivals, or holidays every other week. It’s hard to say no for me, so it’s something I’ve learned.
(I go more in detail about this in my article: Money And Confidence As A Way To Living Your Best Life)
Once you learn how to say no to your friends, it will clear big obstacles from your financial pathway. Your social calendar shouldn’t be this bottomless pit where are your money disappears. It should be a fun way to see your friends again and have a good time, without feeling guilty afterward.
Essentially personal finance is about balance. How can you carve out a portion of your budget for things you enjoy, without going overboard. How can you enjoy a nice gin-tonic every once in a while, without drinking six and spending your weekly food budget on gin-tonics?
Many think saying no is awkward. It’s no fun to decline every invitation – because let’s be real, that would make life utterly boring.
You also don’t want to say to your spendy friend: “When we go out you spend money like the Kardashians, while I’m trying to become financially independent in 10 years”.
With these three simple guidelines, saying no to your friends when trying to reach financial goals will become much easier. It will save you time, it will save you money, and it will save you trouble.
How To Say No To Friends
Rule #1: Let them know in advance.
No one likes a person who cancels the very last minute. When you do it once, or even twice, no man overboard. If you’re doing it regularly, however, you should evaluate why you’re always canceling last minute. You don’t want to be that friend who is more likely to cancel two hours before the event than show up.
If something is coming up that you know in advance, let them know as well. You would like your friends to do this when it concerns you, so you should do the same.
Rule #2: Make an alternative plan
Keep in mind that when your friend wants to hang out, your friend wants to hang out with you. If they come up with somewhere to go, it’s mostly because they want to spend time with you.
If someone is proposing to take a weekend trip to Barcelona, it’s also okay to stay closer to home and book an Airbnb. If someone is proposing to go out to eat at a restaurant, it’s okay to stay at home and prepare your own meal.
Personally, I go out to eat once or twice per month. That’s enough for me. If any friends are want to hang out and to go out to eat, I’m mostly proposing to hang out at home. When the weather is great you can picknick at the park, you can watch a movie, drink some wine, the options are endless. There are so many things you can do as alternatives, it’s amazing.
Rule #3: Frame it okay-ish
If there’s something that I’ve learned, it’s that half-assed excuses are not appreciated. It’s nothing to give yourself a hard time over, you simply want to say no.
Be transparent and clear to your friends. If you’re working towards a financial goal, they will respect that. It’s something you probably already discussed with them, so why not remind them?
Stay true to yourself. Don’t make up some kind of lie to make them feel good. Be honest. Tell them why you’re not coming, but don’t make it bigger than it is.
If someone wants to go out to eat with you at a fancy restaurant, simply tell them “I’m trying to save money this month, so I’d rather stay in and cook our own meal”. Keep it light and talk about what habits you’re trying to adopt.
In short – be honest, stay true to yourself, and enjoy the time you have together with your friends. They want to be with you, it often doesn’t matter what you’re doing as long as you’re spending time together. If you have your doubts, express them so that you’re on the same page.
Saying no is not hard. Most of the times we don’t want to say no because we’re afraid to hurt someone’s feeling. What I’ve learned is that feelings are rarely hurt when you’re transparent and honest. I’ve gone from saying yes to everything to saying no to a lot of things – and I’m proud of it!
(Transparency – I’m here typing this on a Saturday night because I enjoy writing much more than going to the birthday of my cousin-in-law. No feelings were hurt)
Are you good at saying no to friends?
This article first appeared on Radical FIRE and has been republished with permission.