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(Nice) ways to say 'No I can't afford that'

Financial Wellbeing Coach

2023-05-29 00:00

Estimated reading time
5 min

In this article

  • How to navigate saying 'no'
  • Three things to remember when having the conversation
  • Phrases to make it easier

Whether it’s a Friday night pub meal with your pals or a weekend away with the extended family, sometimes you just have to say no.

Perhaps you’re saving for a specific goal, or just can’t afford it this month, either way we all have to be open to declining invitations or compromising on what our quality time entails.

But how do you do it? How do you navigate saying no – especially to a friend?

We know talking about money can be daunting and at times embarrassing (especially if things are tight!) – but there’s nothing to be uncomfortable about when it comes to looking after your financial wellbeing.

In fact, the ability to plan, budget or set goals can significantly impact your financial wellbeing, research from ANZ shows. The 2021 Financial Wellbeing survey found setting (and sticking to) a goal was the “primary influence on monitoring finances – if someone has set a goal, they tend to put steps in place to ensure they meet it.” According to the report, 70 out of 100 people who have “no worries” when it comes to their finances exhibited “informed financial behaviour”. And 59 out of 100 were planners and budgeters.

In this article you’ll find out how to politely say no with confidence.

To get you warmed up, it can help to remember these three things when (kindly) telling someone no:

1. Acknowledge the invite

    It can be nice to let the invitee know you’re grateful to be invited, before politely declining or suggesting an alternate, more budget friendly plan.

2. Reveal as much or little as you want

    Honesty is (almost always) a good policy and, if you feel ok doing so, it can help the invitee better understand your situation. If you don’t feel comfortable, that’s totally fine too.

3. Look after yourself

    At the end of the day, it’s your life and wellbeing you need to look after first. If the invitation or activity doesn’t align with your wants or goals, then don’t feel obliged to do it! It’s always up to you.

Ready to give it a go?

Find it easier to say no with these phrases – simply swap out the  ___  with your real-life plans.

  • “That’s a little out of my budget, how about we do ___ instead?”
  • “That’s a great idea, but would you mind if we did ___ this time? It’s a bit cheaper for everyone.”
  • “Why don’t we find a cheap and cheerful restaurant instead?”
  • “I really appreciate the invite, but maybe we could do that another time?” 
  • “How about we do something low-cost, like a picnic?”
  • “Want to hang out at my place instead?”
  • “I can’t this time, but once I’m done saving for ___, I’d love to.”
  • “Money is a bit tight at the moment, so I’ll skip brunch this time.”
  • “I just really can’t afford it right now, I hope you can understand.”
  • “I’ve got some big savings goals I’m trying to kick – can we take a raincheck?”
  • “Maybe another time? I’m saving for ___ and it’s really important to me – I hope you can understand.”
  • “Wish we could but unfortunately that’s not in the budget this year.”

And remember, it’s ok to say no to an invite (even to a friend) in order to stay home and look after you ­– and your bank account.

So whether you’ve set yourself a savings goal or just know your limits, having a saver mindset and a few handy phrases up your sleeve can help keep you on track.

Besides, you know what they say - a home-cooked meal or a day on the couch, is as good as a holiday! So why not spend a day ticking some things off your list at home or cooking up a storm with one of our cheap and easy recipes! You could even pack a picnic and take a daytrip to the country – which is almost free! Whatever you land on, know it’s ok to say no and look after your financial wellbeing.

(Nice) ways to say 'No I can't afford that'
Financial Wellbeing Coach

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The information set out above is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information, you should consider whether the information is appropriate for you having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. By providing this information ANZ does not intend to provide any financial advice or other advice or recommendations. You should seek independent financial, legal, tax and other relevant advice having regard to your particular circumstances.