The One Word That Can Save You Money

You’re probably wondering how a WORD can save you money, right? It sounds funny, but it really is that simple. Just say no (and follow up in action) and you will see your savings increase over time! Let me elaborate.

In order to say “no” to save money, you have to turn your choices into questions. Take dieting, for example; one small step of dieting that people say helps is that when it comes to snacking you need to determine if you’re eating out of hunger or out of boredom. This means ask yourself “am I hungry?” if the answer is yes, then you eat. If the answer is no, you skip the snack. This saves you on calories and, therefore, on weight (slowly, but surely).

Now let’s apply this concept to various situations relating to finances. If you turn all expense decisions into yes or no questions. “Do I NEED this?” “Should I be buying this?” “Is this worth the price?” These are just a few examples. I’ll share some more specifics below.

Saying No to Yourself

You are the biggest driver of your own expenses (unless you’re a parent, in which case I assume this changes quite a bit). Everyday you’re faced with decisions, some conscious and some you’re probably not even aware of. Should I make breakfast at home this morning? Should I get Starbucks on my way to work? Should I bring my own lunch? Should I get takeout for dinner? Should I buy that cute top I saw in the email from Nordstrom?

Saying “no” to these types of questions and more is exactly how my friend David is saving $18,432. David utilizes a thing called the “Zero Day Challenge.” The point is to have as many zero spend days as possible. In order to spend $0, you have to be saying no to things. That coffee you’re craving on your way to work? No. That dinner you’d rather get delivered than make yourself? No. That shirt you want (but do not need)? No. Saying no to these things means eliminating a lot of unnecessary spending and, consequently, saving that money!

Saying No to Splurges

In order to say no to a splurge, you have to know what a splurge is. To splurge is to “to indulge oneself extravagantly.” One of the definitions (the most relevant in this case) for extravagant is “exceeding the limits of reason or necessity.” So, essentially, a splurge is an expense that costs more than necessary and is oftentimes unreasonable. I know way too many people living lives they can’t afford, spending on things they don’t have the money for. These people don’t know how to say no to themselves and their desires. Just because you WANT designer bags, sunglasses or shoes doesn’t mean you should be buying them. If you HAVE to put purchases on a credit card because you don’t have the cash to afford them, you shouldn’t be buying those things.

Saying no to yourself can be a little sad. There are plenty of things I have wanted that I truly couldn’t justify the cost of, so I sucked it up and said no. Sure, I spend a few days still thinking about those things and how I wish I could have them, but then all of a sudden I forget about them because I realize that those THINGS will only lead to a temporary happiness anyway and I’m able to survive just fine without them! I can’t even tell you the exact dollar amount I have saved by saying no to various fashion-related items I have wanted in the past. I actually may start tracking that and report back to you guys!

Related post: Is It Okay To Splurge?

Saying No to Society

Do you ever feel obligated to do things because that’s what everyone else is doing? Or it’s what people expect of you? Most people experience this at least once in your life. You know what could save you money? Saying no to what society thinks you should do. A big, expensive wedding? Nope. A wedding dress from a high-end bridal boutique? Nope. A ring to solidify your engagement to your partner? Nope.

My friend Luxe (she’s an anonymous blogger, so I like to pretend Luxe is her real name) over at decided to go against the grain and opted to not have an engagement ring, even though that’s the common thing to do when you get engaged. She doesn’t love jewelry and decided rather than spending money on something she’d be settling on, she could just skip the whole thing and do just the wedding bands instead. Additionally, Luxe bought her wedding dress off eBay. Yep, that’s right- eBay. And from the pictures, it looked absolutely beautiful!

Just because the norms of society tell you to do one thing, doesn’t mean you have to do that. Everyone has different opinions, priorities, values, etc. and you shouldn’t feel forced to change those things because of what is commonly done. Stick with your gut and do what makes you happy and you could find yourself saving thousands of dollars!

Saying No to Friends/Family

This is probably the hardest of all: saying no to other people who you love and care about. I don’t know about you, but as I get older it seems harder and harder to see friends without spending money. A lot more time is spent going out and doing things than simply hanging out on a couch catching up for free. Oftentimes we meet friends to go out to eat, grab a drink, take a trip or go to an event of some sort. All of these things generally cost money. And while I do not regret any money spent towards enjoying time with people I care about, these things do add up. If you’re feeling stressed about money or even if you’re just trying to reach a goal, you may have to say no when friends ask you to hang out (or at least offer up an alternative way of hanging out that will cost $0).

A big expense for millennials (based on the age of millennials right now) is being a part of a wedding party. Being a bridesmaid or groomsmen can be more expensive than you can probably imagine. I did research to try to find specific statistics, but they tend to vary a lot. The most common range I found amongst various sites, though, was being a bridesmaid or groomsman costs $1,000-$1,500 per wedding. This is more than some people make in a month after taxes! And yet, people are afraid to say no when asked to be a part of the wedding party. However, sometimes it’s a financial necessity to say no! While your friend may be disappointed, they will understand if you cannot afford it. Plus, saying yes and spending money you don’t have just to try not to disappoint someone else will lead to you disappointing yourself when you are struggling to pay your own bills.

All this being said, I don’t mean to imply that you should say no to everything except the necessities. We all deserve to treat ourselves every once in a while. We deserve to do things that make us happy. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” No one wants to be dull! But when it comes to money, you can’t say yes to everything either because that’s how you end up broke. It’s all about balance 🙂

What are some examples of how saying no saved you money? How much did you save?

16 thoughts on “The One Word That Can Save You Money

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  1. Thanks for the mention, Courtney! Learning how to say no is extremely important. We spend so much money on things that we neither want nor need, we just don’t realize it. I was driving home with my fiancee a few days ago around 8:00 pm. I asked if she wanted to get some pizza for dinner. She said yes, then called and asked her mom what she wanted. Her mom said something like “why are you getting pizza now, it’s 8 o’clock?”

    We realized that our boredom caused us to want pizza, not actually hunger. We ended up saving a few bucks and several hundred calories.

    1. You’re welcome, David!

      My husband and I do that all the time! Less frequently out, but we definitely eat out of boredom at home. We have a friend who owns a restaurant, so even when we eat there out of boredom, I feel like at least our money is supporting him and his family haha.

  2. Something we do is try to invite people to our home and enjoy an evening of dinner and table top gaming. It’s on our terms where we control the costs, and it’s way more fun than sitting at a noisy restaurant for an hour and then calling it a night. Saying No is critical to staying on track financially! Nice work!

    1. I love this, Chris!

      I was just thinking the other day about how we need to start playing more games with friends! It always ends up being so much fun!

  3. It’s tough to say No, especially on weekends when the weather is nice, when friends want to go out. Apart from society there is so much overall environmental pressure. But it’s true when you say that it’s all about keeping a balance. Also one way is to find alternatives. Maybe I don’t feel like having home coffee, so instead of Starbucks, I’ll go to McDonald’s and get any size for $1 and that’ll be my alternate 🙂

    1. I agree! It is much harder to say no to things during the summer for so many reasons. People are less stressed, working less hours a lot of times, prime vacation time, wedding season, warm weather, light for longer etc etc. As long as you’re not struggling financially and you’re not missing your goals by enjoying your time with friends and spending too much, I think you’re fine.

      Yes! Alternatives are a huge way to spend less. Oftentimes we try to switch it up with friends and have them over our house for drinks or order in pizza instead of going to a restaurant (saves on tip and you usually order more when out). This definitely helps!

  4. The other great thing about saying no is it gives you the opportunity to say yes to things that really matter to you. I wrote a similar post over on That PF Guy as I’m really in to this concept of saying no to things that we just aren’t passionate about.

  5. Interesting! I found when I was actively saving, I said NO to a lot of things and I missed out on a lot. Then I just adapted and attitude where I started saying YES to things, everything! I feel happier and like I’m growing more from YES.
    I think the most important thing is to treat every decision like an investment. If you are going to spend $ on something, you should enjoy it, really make the most of it and think about how it fits into your life and helps you grow forward. I think the focus on $ can be distracting. $ is really the lowest common denominator for connecting with people. If you want people to help you, you can pay them OR ask a friend. Value your friends! Be there for them! It’s not just a burden of convention. Go to the wedding, be part of the party, connect with your family and people around you. Yes, compound interest and your retirement plan and your emergency savings. But there is so much you can’t plan for. Building relationships, your networks and community is going to help you in so many ways you could never plan, so I wouldn’t habitually sacrifice the opportunity to connect with more people and friends just to save money. If you don’t have money or don’t want to use it, you can be giving of your time and skills. When someone asks you for something, whether it’s coffee or being a bridesmaid, it is an opportunity to connect with them you should seriously consider. It’s not like a compound interest thing. You just don’t know how life will pay you back if you go into things with an open heart and growth mentality! That being said, I totally respect where this article comes from and the wise friend that sent it to me, so I am going to say YES to some zero days where I try to grow and connect without spending any $ at all! Thanks for the impetus!

    1. Sara, I really appreciate the input!

      I totally didn’t mean for this article to come across as a “say no to everything because money is the only thing that matters,” so I hope I didn’t give off that impression.

      While saving money IS extremely important, I do agree that building relationships and connecting with people is even more important. However, sometimes I think people get too caught up in what others will think of them if they can’t financially afford to do something or how it will impact their relationship and in that case, I think people shouldn’t be afraid to say no. I had a bridesmaid who couldn’t afford to come to my engagement or bachelorette party, but she was still a bridesmaid and still is one of my best friends. I would rather her do what she’s comfortable with than stress out about finances to come to things.

      When it comes to saying “no” to friends and family, I think offering up an alternate plan that will be cheaper is a great option. That way you still build relationships and can enjoy experiences. Does it matter if you have a $15 glass of wine at a bar versus a $15 bottle of wine at home? No. The important thing is spending that time with your friend.

  6. Nice post, Courtney! And I feel so honored for the shout-out!

    Yesterday I had to say no to myself. My favorite workout clothes brand was having a sale, and it would have been so easy to just buy more clothes. $28 for a tank top? YES. But then I said, you know what, do I really NEED more tops? No. I just hand wash my tank tops after each use, then I can re-wear them the next day. Pretty proud of myself for that.

    I do think it’s hard to say no when it comes to people’s weddings. I don’t think I’ve ever said no to going to one, even when I knew I was going to have a bad time/spend money. But if I had a debt problem it may be a different story.

    1. Thanks, Luxe! You have amazing stories that people should hear/read about 🙂

      Wow, good for you! That takes some serious self-control to pass up on a good deal like that. Fashion is my weakness (and food and travel lol).

      I agree. It is very hard! We’ve had to say no to attending weddings due to prior commitments or work situations, but never because of financials. I know it much easier said than done, but I do know some people who have been SERIOUSLY stressed about making ends meet but still feeling obligated to do things.

  7. Love the real examples from David and Luxe – they’re great bloggers 🙂

    I always find myself wanting more ‘stuff’. Online shopping has always been the most dangerous for me. I can avoid shopping at brick and mortar stores by not walking in, but it’s so easy to just type in ‘seph’ in my browser (it knows to auto-complete to, lol).
    I’ve been getting better, though. I’ve found that if I go ahead and add things to my cart, and then tell myself ‘no’ to the checkout process, I can still have the feeling of shopping without actually spending any money. Am I enabling myself? Maybe. But it’s working for me, haha. (At least for now.)

    1. Jane I do that same exact thing! I’m an avid online shopper, except I end up (more often than not) adding things to my cart and letting them sit there. Most times I end up forgetting about even adding things to my cart until the next time I go through that process or see something I actually NEED. If I found that I haven’t thought about those items, then I remove them from cart and complete checkout for the necessities only.

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