How Learning to Say “No” Can Help You Achieve Your Financial Goals

Have you ever made a financial decision based on guilt and/or pride? Making money decisions based on emotions rarely helps me achieve my financial goals.  They usually end up messing with my budget and setting me back. Through experience, I learned I needed to eat some humble pie, swallow my pride, and start saying “NO.” I had to do this recently, read on.

Back in May, I was listening to a video of personal finance guru. He was talking about the importance of giving. At the time I was giving away about $100/month in the form of tipping and random gifts. This guru thought it was important to give 10% of my income away. Listening to this video triggered a feeling of guilt and shame. Immediately, I thought I was selfish if I did not give 10% away.

At the time my expenses were very low, and I was able to save around $1500/month. I decided to give my two alma maters $100/month sustaining gifts, so my giving would total $300/month.

Fast forward to September. My life had turned upside down and I had to move. My below-market rent days were over and my new rent was now more than double what I was paying before. I had very expensive car repairs (on my hoop-dee!) in June that had limited my progress on my savings and student loans. I also had to furnish this new apartment, as my previous apartment was furnished.

I was looking for extra money everywhere. I was hustling, trying to sell everything. I finally realized an extra $200 / month was crucial in my new budget.

Tim Ferriss said: “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”

I had to have some uncomfortable conversations. I had to call up my alma maters and let them know I could no longer afford to give them $100/month. I had to tell my new acquaintances that I could not get dinner with them because it wasn’t in my budget. The hit to the ego was strong. I felt like a failure. I felt poor. I thought they were going to judge me. However, was it worth living in financial strain just so some randos wouldn’t think I was broke?

The Moral of the Story:

I will never make a financial decision based on guilt or pride again. Well, I will try my best not to.  I let a financial guru make me feel that I needed to give away 10% of my income while I was still in debt, did not have a 3-6 month emergency fund, and was not contributing to my 401K. Looking back, my decision to do this was insanity. I gave away a total of $1000 to my high school and college in 5 months. If I had saved that or used it to pay off debt, I would have been breathing way easier during my unexpected move.

Now, have you done something like this? Given more to a charity than you wanted to? Let a friend borrow money who was in a bind? Buy gift more expensive than needed so you could feel better about yourself?

These are dangerous money habits. It may be time to have some uncomfortable conversation. They may sound like this:

  • “No, I do not want to donate a $X/month to save the world, I can’t afford it.
  • “No, I cannot pay your cell phone bill anymore, I can no longer afford it.”
  • “No, you aren’t getting a new iPhone this year, I can’t afford it.”
  • “No, I can’t join you for dinner, I can’t afford it.”
  • “No more cable. I can’t afford it.”
That phrase “I can’t afford it” is hard for me to say. Sometimes I attach my self-worth to what people perceive I can afford. For me, “I can’t afford it” usually does not mean I don’t have the money in the bank. It means my budget does not allow it because I am committed to saving 30% or more of my income.

At the end of the day, I cannot live for the approval of others. They aren’t paying my bills or contributing to my 401K, I am. They can think I am broke all they want, it doesn’t matter. Maybe I am broke compared to them. That doesn’t matter either. I am responsible for where my money goes and I have to protect myself by saying “no.”

I really hope you got something out of this. I would LOVE to hear your feedback, questions, or comments. You can do so by emailing me at or tweeting me @maddymoneycash. I just launched my Instagram this week @maddymoneycash as well as the first episode of my new web series The Maddy Money Show! You can watch it here.

If you haven’t already, sign up for my weekly newsletter: here is the link to subscribe. I put a lot of thought and effort into the newsletter as well as my blog and videos, so share, share, share!

Until next week,


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