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Could One Word Really Reduce Debt and Financial Stress?


Welcome to the sixth installment of our 10-week video series, which will help you avoid the most common red flags that are keeping you broke. If you’d like to follow along with our FREE guide, you can download your copy here.

The sixth red flag we’re covering today is having difficulty saying, "NO!"

Do you ever feel overcome by your impulsive habits? Do you have a hard time telling yourself or other people no? I think we all can agree that we've all fallen victim to either other people’s guilt trips or ourselves. 

The ability to say no can be your single best defense to stick to your budget and reach all of your financial goals. But, here is the catch, and I am probably not going to surprise you with this. Saying no is hard.

Let's look at some examples.

  • "No, I can’t go out to dinner or lunch."
  • "No, I don’t need that coffee."
  • "No, I don't need the expensive handbag."
  • "No, I can't go on that cruise, I didn't save up."
  • "No, I have to pass up on a night out tonight, I don't have the money."
  • "No, I don’t need to buy a brand new car."
  • "No, I’m not watching TV all night because I’m working on my budget."
  • "No, I don't need this, I am sticking to my list and only buying what I came here for."

What's that you say? “No sounds like it sucks!” Yep, I'm not going to lie. It does kind of suck sometimes. But do you know what sucks even more? BEING BROKE!

It's not always fun to delay pleasure. There are so many things I'd love to do or buy, but ultimately I have to pass on some of those purchases because they aren't helping me reach my financial goals.

I wasn't always good at saying no. That's why I was broke, deep in debt, and had very little savings. I said YES to just about everything I wanted, and ultimately it led to a life full of stress, and I learned some very tough lessons. If you're continually spending more than you make, you'll lose every time.

I've had the chance to meet with many people who are successful at managing their money and building wealth, and many of them agree that delaying pleasure and living below your means is key to long-term financial success.

Laura Coleman, who is an Accredited Financial Counselor, and owner of says,

"I work with couples that must delay gratification now in order to get what they truly want; a forever family. We spend money on the things we value. If we have a desire to accomplish a goal, we will have greater joy knowing we used our money for the things we value than a moment of pleasure."

Jeremy Edmonds, who is a Financial Coach, and owner of Strength In Numbers Financial Coaching, has helped people pay off more than one million dollars, and has also been living debt-free for more than 10 years, says,

"Science has proven through the marshmallow test that delayed gratification is the number one characteristic of those who win in life, whether it's money or anything else. By saying no to your present self, you are saying yes to the person you want to become, rather than giving into the person you currently are."

It's not just stuff and purchases that can get us into trouble either.

I want to mention another significant area that some of my Roots members struggle with. Saying no to friends and family who are looking for help or a handout.

  • "No, I'm not lending my parents money."
  • "No, I'm not lending my adult kids more money."
  • "No, I'm not bailing them out again."
  • "No, I'm not participating in the gift exchange because I don't have the cash."

In many cases, saying no to these types of requests is even harder than the ones we just covered. Why? GUILT! And not just guilt we put on ourselves, but the guilt trip our friends and family put on us for not helping them when in need.

  • "I thought we were family?"
  • "You're supposed to take care of the people you love!"
  • "Hey, I lent you money when you needed it. It's payback time!"

Sadly, I've seen people go further into debt, get behind on payments, and create an absolute mess all in the name of helping out friends and family when they weren't a position to do so.

This is similar to the pre-flight spiel we hear before take off when traveling on an airplane. It goes something like this...

In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.

How does this relate to money? You aren't in a position to save someone when you need saving. If you can't breathe because you're broke, have little savings, and you're in debt, you don't have any business helping out other people.

Saying no to these types of requests isn't selfish. It means you have established healthy boundaries. You can't fill someone else's cup if yours is empty.

I know in certain relationships this is much easier said than done, but if you were looking for someone to give you permission to say no to your adult children, your parents, other family, or your friends, this is it. I'm telling you it's okay to say NO!

Delaying gratification, living below your means, and saying no are critical to long-term success. Make these a habit, and your bank account will thank you, and you'll be able to say YES a whole lot more in your future.