BBi-2013, Week 13 :: Make Friends With the Word “No”
One of the most powerful tools in your debt-free plan is the word “no.”
No, I will not buy new hand towels when the 10 mismatched ones I currently own dry the dishes perfectly fine.
No, I will not select more than one pair of earrings, just to take advantage of the “Buy 2 get 1 half off” sale.
No, I do not need the Keurig when the Mr. Coffee works great.
No, when I go to Costco to get bananas, I will not also toss into my giant cart the DVDs, the Christmas decorations, the crate of new flatware, the Vitamix, the toaster oven and the complete set of patio furniture—on my way to the produce section.
The word “no” spoken to yourself, a thousand times, over the course of time, will get you to debt-free.
Before Jon and I got engaged, I was actively shopping for a house. As a single woman with a decent job and a good savings, I didn’t want to throw my hard-earned money at a rental. I had a price-point in mind, based on my income and the fact that I’d also need to furnish the home.
(Because my childhood bedroom set was nice and all, but, where would I eat?)
When Jon asked me to marry him, suddenly my “household income” doubled. Where I had previously been looking for houses in the $75K range, the bank was now willing to approve us for houses in the $150K range!
Back in Northwest Ohio in 1992, you could buy a sweet starter home for $150,000.
So, you know what we did?
We said, “No.”
With two incomes and no children, we could have afforded a $150,000 house, no problem. But we decided we could find a great house for the two of us for half that.
Two years later, when we moved to Florida, we sold our house for $81,000, took the profit, the equity, and our additional savings (we saved because we didn’t throw all our income at our mortgage!) and looked for a new house.
By this time with two (higher) incomes and still no kids, we could have afforded something in the $250K range. But we knew we wanted to start a family at some point. And I planned to quit my job to raise the kids. So, instead of looking at the $250K homes, we decided to pretend I didn’t have an income—at least where the mortgage was concerned. We purchased a house well below our “approved” amount, used my income to purchase furniture—and we banked the rest.
Two years later, when I gave birth to Noah, we never blinked, financially. We had been living on Jon’s income alone for so long, it was an easy-peasy transition.
“Live like no one else, so later on you can live like no one else.” ~Dave Ramsey
It wasn’t easy to see our peers with nicer homes and nicer cars. It was a bit embarrassing to sit in their fully furnished dining rooms and beautifully decorated family rooms, when we still had bare walls and sparse furniture and my childhood bedroom set in the guest room. It wasn’t convenient rummaging through racks at TJ Maxx for decent business attire, when the women in my office shopped at upscale department stores.
But “No” has served us well.
Over the last 20 years, we have said “No” to ourselves thousands of times—literally.
It’s the big no’s—like more expensive houses.
And the little no’s—like ordering water instead of tea.
Or waiting until I get home to make a pot of coffee instead of paying $4 for a cup of Starbucks.
It’s deciding the frayed towels and worn bed sheets will do for another year. Maybe two. Okay, twenty.
That our much-used wedding dishes are fine (even for guests), chips, cracks and all.
That the puked on-peed on carpet may be disgusting, but not so disgusting that we need to replace it before the house is paid off.
It’s saying “I don’t need another Yankee Candle” and “I can go a few more weeks before I get a cut and high light.” (even though I love Yankee Candles and good hair)
It’s deciding to eat at home instead of out.
It’s resolving the outdated Dell laptop will survive another year of blogging.
(Okay…that last one is a total lie. I just lied to you. The Dell laptop is on its last leg, y’all. Jon, kids…if you are reading this, remember Mother’s Day is THIS SUNDAY! Nothing says “love” like a Mac Book Air.)
It’s walking through Target and telling myself “no” to every last item that is not on my list.
(I just heard a collective groan from you…)
It’s basically telling myself “no” to every impulse purchase and to frivolous spending, altogether.
But the beauty of debt-free living is that you don’t have to tell yourself “No” forever.
No is temporary.
“Remember that these small actions, done one day after another and another, give way to mountain-moving conditions. Think of the grains of sand that comprise the Sahara.” ~ Tsh Oxenreider
Once you meet that financial goal: when you make that last credit card payment, car payment, school loan payment, house payment…Baby, THEN you can start telling yourself “yes.” A resounding and recurring, glorious, well-deserved, hard-earned, GUILT-FREE YES!
Yes, I think I will get new matching plates.
Yes, I would love a night out at a great restaurant.
Yes, I like all three of those pairs of earrings. I think I’ll take ‘em.
Yes, I think I would like to go pick out new carpet today—and let’s add to that order, some new kitchen appliances and maybe throw in some granite counter tops, with a side of tile backsplash and a dash of matching kitchen towels, thankyouverymuch.
Balance is the art of knowing when to say yes and when to say no.
So, practice saying “no” to yourself.
Say it early. Say it often. Make friends with it.
And eventually your good friend “no” will open the door to a well-balanced and debt-free “yes.”
This is Week 13 of a year-long series on having Better Balance in 2013. For all the posts in this series, click here.
This is also week 3 of a mini-series of posts on being debt-free. In case you missed those:
Live Debt Free
Be an Extravagant Giver
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Q4U: Is “no” your friend?
I have said ‘no’ to myself for so long that now that I am in the position to say ‘yes’, I often don’t want to. Sometimes, even often times, the ‘no’ is so automatic, I don’t even think about it.
Mine is too, Lori. But I have to say…the guilt-free, hard-earned YES is so wonderful. You should try it. 🙂 It’s fun.
Nothing says “love” like a Mac Book Air.) I totally laughed out loud when I got to this… 🙂 We will see how good Jon is at picking up hints… was that a hint? How about a bold faced demand?
I agree with Lori that the habit of no gets ingrained in a good way that we do not need a yes to satisfy. All the things I thought I wanted to buy have certainly changed over the last 20 years. Now it comes down to do I put my money here or would I rather be able to do this? I’d like a new truck and a nicer house and we can afford it but not to the point it would not impede doing some things we like to do. So the no’s are mixed in with the yes’s so we can choose to do the yes’s we want.
You know Sandy if you keep the lights down low you cant tell the towels mismatch or the ear rings are on or off and the Yankee candle seems to burn brighter in the twilight. 🙂
Oh, Mark—I know all about keeping the lights low to hide stuff. But for me, it was the puke/poop/mud on our used-to-be-white carpet.
Good point about how your priorities change as you age. I agree that the things I would have spent my money on 20 years ago are not the same things I value today.
I would like to say without the joking that you make an excellent argument that all would benefit from following. The discipline to say no to yourself offers great benefits not only financially but in all areas of your life.
Thanks, friend. 🙂
I agree with Mark about the discipline in other areas too, I just need to work on that one! Great post, and I’m so proud of you and your goals (and happy for you and your family too – job well done:)
Thank you, Mindy. 🙂
Saw your comment over at Ashley’s the post on going back to stories. the reason I chose to come, as the others you said you just want to write but you are the only one I saw that said you want to interact. That is all gone in the new face of blogging.
Thank you for stopping by!! That post on Ashleigh’s blog hit right at the heart of where I am. (That is the first time I’ve ever read her blog…saw a link on Sarah Bessey’s twitter feed and followed it.)
Yes, the interaction is so important to me. It’s the thing I immediately fell in love with when I started blogging.
I do think it’s still happening. But I think it’s happening on Twitter and private FB pages rather than in blog comments. It seems more exclusive, also. I suppose it’s very difficult to respond to 500 comments individually.
Obviously, I don’t have that problem. 🙂
Hope you hang around. I’d love to have a conversation with you.
This is great, Sandy. My husband and I have always been good at saying the big nos – we did the same things you guys did which has helped us to live without debt. But – we probably need to get better at those little nos! Thanks for the good advice. Enjoyed your blog post!
Thanks Barb–I think the little nos make the biggest impact over time.