How do you kindly say “no” to social outings with friends and keep a positive attitude? I find we can’t go out to most of our friends’ events because we can’t afford to. I am tired of explaining that we just “don’t have the money.” -Christa
Oh, Christa! How I can relate to this!
I well remember the days when Jesse was in law school and it seemed like we couldn’t go to so many different social outings because we didn’t have any money to spend. It was discouraging — and sometimes embarrassing.
So, first off, I just want to encourage you that you’re not alone in this struggle. Many of us have been there or are currently there.
When explaining your situation to your friends, be sure to be incredibly gracious. Let them know that you’d love to come but it’s just not in the budget right now.
Make sure you say it in a way that doesn’t condemn them for choices they are making. True friends will understand and will not make you feel guilty or less than just because you can’t afford something.
There’s no need to come up with lame explanations and leave your friends wondering if they’ve done something to offend you and that’s why you don’t want to get together with them. Instead, just be honest. Let them know you’re struggling financially, or on a tight budget, or trying to pay off your debt, or whatever it is that is keeping you from being able to afford the outing they’ve invited you to.
Don’t apologize or make excuses. Don’t guilt them into feeling like they need to help cover your costs. Just be straightforward about it and let them know you’re working really hard to get to a place where you’ll have wiggle room in your budget for such an outing, but for now, you’re going to have to decline the invitation.
Suggest an Alternative
Whenever possible, instead of just saying no, come up with an alternative that you can afford. Offer to host everyone for desserts or snacks at your house if you can’t afford to eat out at the expensive restaurant they want to go to. Invite them to come over for games, a movie, and finger foods instead of going to the theater.
Or, see if there’s a compromise you could propose. For instance, when Jesse was in law school and some of his friends were having a party, the host asked if everyone could pay $4 each to cover the costs of the party. We didn’t have $8 extra in our budget for both of us to attend, so I emailed the host to ask if I could bring snacks and drinks (that I’d gotten for free or almost-free with coupons) instead. She was so gracious to say “yes” to my offer — and we had a fantastic time at the party!
Remember Your Why
Saying “no” is hard. It can be uncomfortable. It can make you feel discouraged. It can wear you down.
Constantly remind yourself why you are doing this. What is the purpose behind your short-term sacrifices. Think of the benefits you are going to reap in the long-run by sticking with your budget and staying the course with your goals.
Keep this at the forefront of your mind every time you have to say no. It will help you stay resolved to make the right decision, even when it’s hard.
Find Some Frugal Friends
If most all your friends are constantly inviting you to do extravagant things that you can’t afford to do, it’s probably time to find some frugal friends — people who “get” your weird desire to stick with your budget and live beneath your means.
Think about it: if everyone you associate with it spending money pretty extravagantly and telling you that you “deserve” this, that, and the other — even if you can’t afford it — it’s going to be hard to stick with your resolve to live frugally. On the other hand, if many of your friends are living frugally and simply, if they are content and understand when you talk about buying something secondhand or saving up to pay cash for things, it will be a lot easier to keep on your slow and steady journey toward debt-freedom or achieving your other financial goals.
In addition, when you hang out with frugal friends, you are inspired with new money-saving ideas, you are motivated to not give up, and you can laugh at all the crazy things you do in order to stay on budget.
If you don’t know a single frugal friend, don’t despair. Start looking for them at your local library, mom’s groups, church, thrift store, used book sale, or gardening club. You just never know where you’ll find an amazing frugal friend, but if you keep your eyes open, I’m sure there are some other frugal folks who live in your area!
In the mean time, read money-saving books and blogs to help you stay motivated and inspired. They aren’t the same as real-life friends, but they will still help you stay motivated. And if you have trouble finding local friends, see if you can find some good accountability partners online — maybe even people that you meet in the comments section here on MoneySavingMom.com.