How to Save Money Today by Saying No

How to Save Money by Saying No
Written by Irina Vasilescu

Money issues are not something that friends and sometimes even family discuss out in the open. Depending on the closeness of your relationship, the way that you spend your money and how much you actually earn seems to be an off-limits subject.

If there’s one downside to this, it is none other the fact that individuals or couples with friends or family in high places sometimes struggle to keep up with their lifestyle.

If you don’t know when or how to say no, you might eventually force yourself to stop being friends with them, or stay out of touch with the family simply because you cannot financially keep up with their lifestyle.

Here, we will take a look at how you can save money by learning how to say no if you have friends or family in high places.

Having Friends and Family in High Places

Let’s take a look at a few instances when it proves to be difficult to financially keep up with the people within your social circle.

If you’re a married man and you have a couple of very close buddies who are still bachelors, they would invite you to night outs in fancy clubs, bars and restaurants. If you’ve always split the bill equally, your changed domestic status might limit your budget. Even if you limit your beer consumption to just a couple of bottles, the fact that you are still splitting the bill three ways would still make the night out expensive for you.

If you are a married woman and your best friend is also married – but to a man who’s made it big in stocks, you might find it difficult to do things together without spending way over your budget. Considering what your best friend’s husband earns or where they live, her idea of spending the day together might mean shopping at high-end stores or getting pricey, luxurious spa treatments.

If you’re single and you have friends or relatives who are well-off, you might find it difficult to stay in touch with them simply because you cannot afford their lifestyle just yet. This is especially true if you are still struggling to support yourself by living on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis.

How to Save Money Today by Saying No? Easy!

The aforementioned scenarios are just some examples of how it is to have friends or family in high places. If your financial status is different from the people within your social circle, it’s a definite possibility that they will invite you to activities which you cannot afford to spend on.

You don’t want to offend them by always saying no but what if you really do not have the means to spend for such activities? The best and simplest solution is to say no and be honest with them.

Tell them that you love their company but there’s simply no way that you can afford weekly fancy dinners, bi-monthly beauty treatments at pricey spas or weekend getaways to high-end vacation spots. Your friends or relatives would still love you, and probably even appreciate your honesty.

In fact, some group of friends fail to talk about money – so much so that trying to keep up with each other’s lifestyle has become a huge financial burden for them. To prevent this from ruining your finances and negatively affecting your friendship, learn how to firmly say no.

Specific Ways to Save Money by Saying No

To help you out, here are the specific ways that you can save money by saying no to friends or family who are on a different financial spectrum than you:

When planning to spend time together, offer cheaper alternatives

If you’ve known your best friend forever but it seems as if his or her economic status has ballooned overnight so their idea of having a good time is way more expensive than what you used to do together, don’t fret. You do not necessarily have to miss out on the bonding activities, you simply need to offer an alternative and more affordable solution.

Let’s say that you have always watched the games together as a bonding activity for the family. They now have the budget for tickets to great seats, but you don’t. Explain that you cannot afford pricey seats. They can go ahead and book the pricier tickets to the game and you can buy the cheaper ones for yourself, then you can simply get together at home after the game to talk about it.

If your friend can now shop at affluent stores or book a weekend spa getaway somewhere fancy, suggest having an at-home makeover session instead. Tell your friend right out that you cannot afford the extra expense but you would like to spend the time together. She might even appreciate your frugality and follow suit.

When dining out, make it a rule to pay for your own individual meals

If you have a large group of friends who are all dining at the same restaurant, you can make it a rule to pay for your own individual meals. If you only had the salad and a burger while your more well-off friend had steak and a glass of wine, there’s no reason why you should pay for their meal. This is a perfectly practical rule to have, especially if there are married and unmarried people in your group, along with different income levels.

Be open about the reasons why you are saving money in the first place

If it seems as if your friend is getting hurt when you constantly say no to her suggestions of how and where you should hang out, explain to her your situation. Tell her that you are trying to cut back on your spending because you are saving up money for the kids’ college, your retirement fund or a well-earned vacation.

It’s not that you would rather not spend with her, but make her understand that your financial goals are preventing you from spending too much. If she really wants to stay your friend, she would understand the situation perfectly and maybe even follow your lead of leading a more practical life without missing out on all the fun, as you go from one affordable or even free bonding activity to another.

Don’t be embarrassed if you say no

One of the reasons why most people find it difficult to say no is embarrassment. You don’t want to offend your friend or embarrass yourself, so you would rather make up a reason for not going to that fancy group dinner. But if you are the only one who’s penny pinching in a group of friends who go out once a week to expensive restaurants, you might be embarrassed to speak up that you really can’t afford such luxuries.

Suggest having a progressive dinner instead where you will have one course at one’s house, then dessert at another. Speaking up might also reveal that there are others who feel the same way that you do, so you will even be thanked for the suggestion of easing up on going to fancy restaurants and giving all your wallets a break.

For your own financial security, set a budget and stick to it

There is absolutely nothing wrong in spending time with friends but if it is preventing you from meeting your own financial goals, it should not turn into a habit at all. Remember that you all have different income levels so a casual dinner out for them may prove to be so difficult to get out of your budget.

To meet your own financial goals, create a budget and stick to it. If your friend asks you to go somewhere fancy and you know that you have no room in your budget for it anymore, stick to your guns and simply say no.

Tell yourself that it’s perfectly fine to fall out of touch if keeping up with your friends’ lifestyles prove to be too much

This happens one time too many: you mingle with the rich and famous one time who decide that you are interesting enough to be their friends. You go out a few times, but their idea of having fun is too hard on your wallet.

If they balk at your suggestion of eating a home cooked meal rather than going out to a restaurant, then it may not even be worth it to remain friends with them if they cannot understand where you’re coming from.

Remember that being friends with people who have more money than you has more to do with how you feel, than about how they feel towards you

Finally, there are instances when you are trying so hard to keep up with your more well-off friends simply because you failed to speak up. This could have something to do with your own insecurities. You’re embarrassed that your friend would think less of you if you say no to doing activities that you can ill afford. But how will they know if you won’t tell them? The point of your friendship should be based on trust and loyalty.

If you keep out of touch simply because you decide for yourself that you’re not worthy of being their friend anymore due to your economic differences, you might not be giving them the benefit of the doubt.

By laying things out in the open, you can make them understand that there are limits to how you can spend your money. You might even be surprised at how understanding they are, or how some friends might even thank you for suggesting ways to get together without spending too much.

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.


  • I love these tips. I am not in the same situation I was a couple of years ago but luckily I have always been the type of person that has always marched to the beat of her own drum and never really let myself be convinced or swayed by those around me, including their lifestyles. I have always been frank about things “Girl, I’m broke. When you go to a cheaper place let me know.”

    Yet, I see some people around me that are in a real money-crunch but for some reason they keep spending “involuntarily” because they can’t say no, or they feel bad, or…all these reasons that just do not make sense to me. This article is going to come in handy to people like that.

    • I agree Thatnewmommy, I have many friends you are struggling yet they keep saying yes to different expenditures that they could go without. It’s hard to tell them how and what they should be saying no to, so I often don’t.
      I am quite a soft touch myself, but when it comes to my hard earned money I say ‘no’ when I want to.
      The tip about being honest about why you are saving money is a good one, I always use that.

  • Getting separate checks rather than splitting the bill equally is really important. I finished college later than a lot of my social circle because I was on the younger end of the group and also went to grad school. At one point I had a coupon for $10 off of $20 at a restaurant, so several of us went there for lunch. I actually ended spending more than the cost of my meal even after using the coupon because two people had ordered expensive meals and the other person and I had ordered smaller, less expensive meals. Money was tight for me then because I was the only person without a full time job, but I didn’t feel comfortable speaking up then. In retrospect, I really should have.

    • Absolutely! It’s hard to speak up that first time and insist on separate checks, but it gets easier the more you do it. It’s not that I don’t want to pay for my friends, it’s just that sometimes all I can afford is a grilled cheese and water! 🙂

  • Thank you, these tips are wonderful. I usually feel backed against a wall or in a corner when someone is looking at me for money but now I think I will start paracticing learning how to say ‘no’ because spending involuntarily is just… painful to my wallet lol

  • Saying no has to be one of the hardest things to do when it comes to money. Most people are torn between saving money for whatever goal they’re trying to attain and not looking poor in front of their friends. This article does a pretty good job at giving viable tips though. I like the one that encourages you to “eat at less expensive places”. This might be hard to do especially if you’re used to eating expensively, but it’s worth it for the money you save.

  • Definitely good tips. I tend to spend more on others than I do on myself at times, and that’s why I’m always short on money. I’m too generous with it!

    Eating at less expensive places is something that we should all try to be doing, but unfortunately I’m one of those people who doesn’t. I tend to eat out without thinking of the cost, and soon enough, there goes money. It’s all about exercising spending.

  • I think these are very good, very understandable tips. Especially these days, everybody is concerned about their finances – it isn’t unheard of to cut back a little. One thing a friend of mine started doing, instead of going out for lunch we’ll just make sandwiches at one of our houses. We already have all of the ingredients, and usually the other person will bring a bag of chips or beverages. It’s like an in-home picnic.

  • I have been in that boat a lot of my adult life. I have missed out on many social occasions because I do not have enough money to buy anything on the menu, even Subway is too expensive for me now, I literally can not afford to eat out anywhere. It’s hard to offer alternatives when you are this poor. I have tried inviting people to bring lunch and come to my place to hang out, but people always decline. They want to go out to eat because going to someone’s home is too personal for some people.

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