Learning to say no: friends ‘edition.

Not so long ago, when I would receive invitations to go to restaurants, or to the movies or away for the week-end, I would just say yes to everything. The problem was that I couldn’t afford it.

I guess I was saying “yes” out of fear. Fear of losing the friendship, fear of not “fitting-in”. Fear is usually a terrible advisor when it comes to finances.

When I started reviewing my financial situation, I became more honest with myself in terms of priorities. I realized that, although I enjoy going to the movies or dining-out, I simply cannot afford to do it every week, and I actually don’t want to.

Being honest makes it easier for me to decline some invitations but also other requests. I also set a monthly entertainment budget and I stick to it. These are the basics.

Let’s go over additional “strategies” to gracefully say no.

  1. Being upfront. Often, honesty is the best answer. Financial honesty that is! You can simply say “I can’t afford this” or “I have exhausted my entertainment budget”.


  1. Delay answer. Don’t feel pressured to give an answer right away. You can say something like “let me check my schedule and I will get back to you.” Later, once you have thought about it, give your answer.


  1. Keep it simple and vague. You don’t have to justify yourself or give an extensive list of reasons. You can say that you have another commitment that night, or that you just can’t make it. Most people will respect your privacy without prying.


  1. Show appreciation. Tell your friend you appreciate their invitation, as well as them. Reinsure them that there will be other opportunities to connect.

I have been doing all the above for a few years now, and I still have friends. I just don’t see them as often and as much as before…and it is fine.

I lost touch with a few people, not because I declined their invitations but because the friendship never really existed in the first place.