How Learning to Say No Saved Me Thousands of Dollars

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No is a full sentence; trust me. No. No. No, thank you. No, I don’t think so. No. There is no need to follow up that one word, one syllable sentence with anything else. All you have to say is no. It’s not easy, I know this. Trust me. In my nearly 33 years in this world, I’ve learned the very hard way that learning to say no is difficult, it’s a process and it is so absolutely and necessarily vital to my own happiness and my own peace of mind. Learning to say no is not something learned to say easily; but this simple sentence often saves me a ton of money, and even more stress and peace of mind.

Growing up, I didn’t know how to say no. I was a people-pleaser. I was a popular girl in high school, and I never said no to anything because I was terrified it would mean I would lose friends or people would begin to think I wasn’t perfect (overcoming the perfection thing is a completely different story we might one day get into) or capable of handling everything. Being the always efficient, always type-A personality I am, saying no was not easy for me. So, I didn’t say it.

By the time I was an adult and my high school sweetheart and I married, I was overwhelmed with everything that I had to do. My parents might ask me to take a day off of work to do them a favor, and I could not say no. We’d be invited somewhere we didn’t really want to go, but I’d say yes. We were overwhelmed with plans and being busy and I was in a bad mood all the time because I never said no to anything people asked of me. That left me in a bad place.

It wasn’t until I allowed my younger brother to borrow my car one day – because I couldn’t say no – that I learned to say no. I didn’t want to let him borrow it. It was my brand new car – my first car I ever paid for myself (and it was brand new!) and I wasn’t comfortable. But my parents told me to do it, gave me a hard time and I felt pressured to say yes since everyone seemed to expect me to say it. He told me he’d be gone two hours. More than 6 hours later, we hadn’t seen or heard from him. He finally came into my parent’s house acting as if he’d done nothing wrong, telling me to calm down and only then did I realize that he’d wrecked my car right into someone’s mailbox.

He tore the passenger side mirror off in the accident, scraped the paint all the way down the passenger side and dented the entire car down the side. He was 17. I wanted to call insurance, and my parents refused to do it saying that it would raise their rates and that they would just make him pay me the more than $2,500 in damage that he did to my car – over time. He never paid me a cent.

Now I say no; and it’s saved me more money that I might ever imagine. I had a friend borrow a very expensive handbag from me and then return it a month later with makeup all over the interior and pen marks all over it when I was 22. I saved and saved for that bag and she ruined it for me. Since I work from home, people ask me all the time to pick up their kids, watch them, babysit them, run their errands for them…I’ve learned to say no. I can’t work when I’m busy doing all of that and it costs me a lot of money not to get my work done. I save thousands of dollars saying no; but it wasn’t easy.

Learning to say no is a process. It’s not easy. Most of us don’t want to disappoint people, but it’s even more difficult to please others and live in a perpetual state of misery all the time. I’d say yes to people when I didn’t want to because it made them happy, and then I’d go home and complain, whine and have minor fits to my husband because I didn’t have time or didn’t want to do these things for others. It wasn’t fair to him; and I hated living like that.

Learning to say no did not come easy. It took realizing that most people are okay when you say no and they understand. The people who don’t understand are not really your friends to begin with. At first I’d make excuses as to why I couldn’t do something for someone. Then I realized that I don’t have to explain myself or make excuses; no is all the answer I’m required to give.

If you want to save yourself some time, stress and money saying no to people, do it. But understand that it’s not going to be easy. It’s hard; the first time you say no to someone, it’s not easy. It does, however, get easier each time. There are setbacks, such as saying no to someone and them becoming upset with you for the first time; that’s difficult. Remain strong and focus on how good you feel not living your life for other people and it will become so much easier. And remember; no is a full sentence.

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