Ways to so no to spending money

Ways to Say NO to Spending Money (and still be cool)

How to Avoid Spending Money:

What is the number one reason you can’t save money? You spend it!

It’s hard not to! Everyone wants a piece of it.

“We’re just going out to eat!”

“It only costs $15!”

“You don’t want to miss out!”

You want to say: “NO YOU DUMMY, I’M SAVING MY MONEY!” But you don’t. Because you’re nice. But don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Today, I’m creating a handy-dandy list you can print off and keep in your wallet. Reference this the next time you get a proposal to spend that hard-earned cash!

There are three ways to successfully extricate yourself from a money-spending predicament: excuses, possibilities, and alternatives.

The Excuses:

In this scenario, you always start out with the phrase: “I’d LOVE to, but…”

  1. My credit card was stolen and I’m still waiting for the new one to arrive.
  2. I’m in an investing club and they’ll kick me out if I spend any more money this month!
  3. My teeth hurt (any non sequitur would work here. Throw them off completely.)
  4. I have to wash my hair (“my dog ate my wallet” and other obvious excuses could also work)
  5. My credit card bill hit an even $1000.00 and I can’t stand to see the perfect amount change before I pay it off in full at the end of the month.
  6. My horoscope said I should avoid spending money until the next full moon.
  7. All I have are gold bars.

The Possibilities:

In this scenario, you use the amount in question to propose alternatives. We’ll assume the amount is $55 (change your answers accordingly). This section can begin with the phrase: “That sounds awesome, but with that money I could…”

  1. Buy 55 Matchbox Cars!
  2. Buy 4 cans of Unicorn Meat!
  3. Max out 1% of my Roth IRA for the year.
  4. Swim in 5500 pennies!
  5. Turn it into $1800 in 50 years (using Warren Buffet’s 7% return preference)
  6. Buy 55 lottery tickets. If I win, let’s plan on it!
  7. Hike on a glacier with a friend!

The Alternatives:

If you still want to hang out with these money-bags spender friends, you can offer free alternative activities. Just say: “That sounds awesome, but what if we _____ instead.” Fill in the blank with one of these:

  1. Went back to my place for a pancake dinner
  2. Had a picnic on a traffic island or in a roundabout
  3. Went bike riding
  4. Went yarn-bombing
  5. Had a selfie scavenger hunt
  6. (Make up your own!)

Now go and save, friends! You are armed with RESOURCES!

You’re welcome. 


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  1. I love it, Maggie. You know you’re going to face these situations, so prepare for them. Having pat answers is a great way to rebuff unwanted spending. I especially like pancake dinner idea.

  2. I love the gold bars response! How about grossing them out? No, I have acid reflux, or No, I always get a bad case of flatulence when I eat restaurant food.

    We’ve been able to save because we are so uncool and don’t socialize with many people who live close to us. We’ll need some good excuses when we move near Mr G’s family. I think I’ll be somewhat honest and say – No, because I don’t want to have to go back to work!

    • MaggieBanks

      Gross factor? I like it. And “I don’t want to have to go back to work” is PERFECT!

  3. Emily Jividen

    I’m saving for a trip to (exotic destination that will make them jealous…you’ll get there eventually.)

    • Matt @ Optimize Your Life

      This is a great double-whammy, because you get out of the immediate situation and they can’t come back with “I wish I could afford stuff like that” after you post photos of your awesome trip on Facebook.

      (That said, I want to drop the gold bars line on someone.)

      • MaggieBanks

        OOooh! I love this one! And I agree with Matt. It gets you out of lots of things AND produces eventual jealousy-inducing!

  4. These are great ways to supplement my standard excuse: we have three young children and no babysitter. Very few people want to go out to eat with us and three kids, and that increases the cost involved.

    To be honest, people tend not to ask me out to things anymore, knowing I will decline. My one friend goes on frequent wine tours and used to ask me if I wanted to go and spend money on wine, transportation, and staying overnight somewhere. I refuse to go off drinking while hubby has to stay home with three kids by himself – it’s really not fair to him. Obviously, the money is a big factor too.

    • MaggieBanks

      It’s tough when your cohort all have the same amount of kids and hire babysitters all the time (me!). There’s no way that excuse would work around here! 🙂

  5. I love this. Such fun ideas. I must go read more on yarn bombing. I do hope you don’t attract the wrong clientele to your site with the concept of doing such dangerous stuff! ?

    I would add ” we are saving for a huge and very special family event that is taking some time to plan and prepare for….” No porky pies there!!

    • MaggieBanks

      Ooo… that’s a good one too! Def check out yarn bombing. It’s basically my favorite google image search ever.

  6. It also helps when all your friends feel more broke than you. =) I feel like all my friends are in the : finish paying off student loans, have a huge mortgage, have at least one car payment, and now we need one stay at home parent phase. And they are starting to panic about saving for retirement. So I always suggest going out for ice cream and a walk or coffee. I pick up the $8 tab, and we get to hang out for an hour. We are mostly past the “it has to be epic” phase, and in the “how do we get out of the house” season of life.

    • MaggieBanks

      I don’t think I’ve ever been in the “it has to be epic” stage of life! 🙂

  7. Ahahahahahaha I love every single one of these so much! I can’t decide whether “my teeth hurt” or “all I have are gold bars” is my favourite. I just make everybody feel awkward by saying “I’m broke” which I’m not, but I *would* be if I spent money on all the random things people want to do so it’s kinda true? I think for my own entertainment I will be borrowing your suggestions from now on 😀

    • MaggieBanks

      I was going to add “Poof! Be gone!” but though ti tmight be too rude. Feel free to try that one as well and see if it’s taken as rude or not! 🙂

  8. TJ

    I’d love to join an investing/saving club just so that i can actually use that excuse without lying. 😀

    • MaggieBanks

      We CERTAINLY don’t condone lying! Do your teeth hurt? Try that one instead! 🙂

  9. Love it. Here’s another solution if someone asks you to go out for food…. leave your wallet in your car. Once the receipt come, just say you forgot your wallet and get your friend to pay for you. 😀

    • MaggieBanks

      Ugh. I do that ALL THE TIME when I’m not with my husband. I HATE carrying my wallet. I pay all the bills and deal with all the money at home.. but he has to pay in public. 🙂

  10. Hilarious! I pre-game just about every restaurant outing with friends. My “excuse” which is true, is that I am famished by 5pm and eat dinner at home at that time no matter what!

    • MaggieBanks

      OOoh! It’s GENIUS! (except so obviously untrue in my scenario… we’re usually shoving food down the kids’ throats to get them in bed by 8!… not our forte)

  11. Hahaha — what a great list! We have grown especially fond of swapping in other activities to suggest instead, and I use my dietary restrictions SHAMELESSLY. “Oh, I’d LOVE to eat there, but the last time I did, I got so sick… why not just come over here instead?” 😉

  12. Here’s one I use a lot: I’d love to go out to lunch today, but I’ve got to get my run in! (I run at lunch, avoids the cost of eating out, AND keeps me in shape!). Hurting teeth and flatulence are great options to keep in the back pocket in an emergency….love it.

  13. I love this list. I snorted out loud when I read “All I have are gold bars.” Thanks for sharing!!!

  14. Such a fun post! Sorry for the belated reply. It definitely helps to keep a sense of humor about things. My go-to is to promise to bring wine (or a favorite snack) and stop by for visits rather than going out.

    • MaggieBanks

      Not drinking saves me a lot of money in social situations. Also makes a great excuse to get out of some events… but I like your tactic as well. 🙂

  15. I think I’m a bit too honest sometimes, but it’s how I’d want my friends and family to be with me too! My responses tend to be “I’d love too but I’m too much of a cheapskate to splash a load of cash on that” or “If I’m honest, I don’t really fancy it. You’ll have a much better time without me being a misery guts and ruining the day/ night/ whatever I’m declining.” There’s also “I’ve just spent money on so I can’t really justify spending on that right now”.

    • MaggieBanks

      Honesty is also a good way to go. Thouggh last time I said something like that, everyone looked at me like I was a prude that wanted to ruin all the fun. 🙂

  16. moneycounselor

    I try to avoid maintaining friendships with those who don’t share my money values. Cuts down on the need to make excuses for not spending. 🙂

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