Last week, I argued that the most important step in personal financial success is to set goals for yourself. In the same way, I’ll argue that the hardest thing about personal financial success is, you guessed it, saying no.
My husband and I dialogue about our finances very regularly. He often “jokes” of how he feels like our budget is his parent. Just the other day he told me about an inner dialogue he was having with himself, it went something like this:
Wow, I feel like a popsicle. I really want one. Maybe I should just go buy some. But I don’t have any spending money right now and I know my wife is trying to stay under budget for groceries this month…Jeez, I’m a grown man and I’m debating whether or not to buy popsicles because of our tight budget this month!
I laughed when he was telling me this, but he was actually kind-of serious. Bryan loves shopping, much more than I do. He tends to be the spender and I’m the saver. That’s the way our awesome God made us. In light of the way we were created, it’s hard for Bryan to say “no” to the things he wants. And it’s really hard for me to say “no” to Bryan.
We both struggle, on a daily basis, to deny ourselves much of what we want. We say “no” a lot. So, if we struggle so much with it, why do it?
The Benefits of Saying “No”
- Saying “no” to things like popsicles when we they don’t fit in our budget means saying “yes” to our goals. Goals usually end up requiring some sort of sacrifice.
- Instant gratification isn’t a long-lasting feeling. While it might feel really good to eat a popsicle right when you’re craving it, I promise you’ll just want something else later. I can also promise it won’t feel as good as accomplishing one of your goals. Have you ever heard your grandparents say that you’ll always appreciate the things you worked hard for more than the things that you didn’t work hard for? Yeah, that’s true. Goals take hard work. Putting a box of popsicles on a credit card takes a swipe.
- Saying “no” is counter-cultural. It’s possible that the most unifying behavior we in the western culture have is this instant gratification attitude. You want something? Get it NOW. I believe there’s a lot of biblical back-up for avoiding worldly behavior. Let’s avoid this behavior as followers of Christ and exercise patience in our spending.
- Saying “no” is a surefire way to simplify. “Stuff” that piles up is usually a result of that instant gratification thing I mentioned above. I just read a book about simplicity and money was just as big of an issue as time was.
- Finally, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matt. 5:37) If you’ve said, “Yes, I want to be wise with my finances, I want to meet my financial goals this year, I want to live below my means, etc,” then let your “yes” be “yes” and say “no” to the other stuff.
Just so you know, Bryan didn’t end up buying those popsicles. And right now I have $2.85 left in my grocery budget for the next week which means I have to wait to get some things we’re out of. But we’re making it work. And I’m definitely putting popsicles on the list for next month. : )
Next week: The Nuts and Bolts of our Budget.