How to Say No to Spending Money Without Feeling Guilty

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How to Say No to Spending MoneyBeing on a budget can be hard sometimes, especially when it feels like you’re on your own. All your friends are booking holidays, going out for expensive meals and buying new clothes. Meanwhile,  you’re just sat there like, “well, this isn’t in the budget anymore”.

I know how that feels. And it can be hard when you need to restrict your spending to say no when people ask you to do things. But you shouldn’t feel guilty for trying to get your finances in order. Being on a budget isn’t about depriving yourself, it’s about making your money work for you.

The most difficult thing in trying to say no to people, is if you’re a people pleaser. You can feel like you have to say yes because you don’t want to offend anyone by turning down their invitation. Or maybe it’s not because you’re a people pleaser, but you have FOMO.

Whatever the reason you find it hard to say no, it doesn’t have to be. There are ways that you can say no without the guilt, worrying about causing offence and without feeling like you’re missing out.

Tell Them Why

Your friends might ask you to do a lot of things because they don’t even realise you’re on a budget. If you’ve gone from always socialising to suddenly saying no to everything people might not understand the situation. Sometimes you’re better off just being honest. Explain to them that it’s not in your budget right now and if they really care about you they’ll understand. You never know, they might be struggling for money too and it might be a relief for them to be honest about the situation.

Suggest a Cheaper Alternative

If a friend or family member asks you to go out for a meal, why not suggest going for lunch instead? Lunch options are often quite a bit cheaper and can really make a difference to your budget. Maybe you don’t even have to make it lunch, perhaps you could just suggest going for an earlier dinner. Some places have early bird deals for example if you arrive before 6 pm and dine you might get the day rate rather than the evening rate.

I wrote a full blog post on How to Save Money on Eating Out which you might find useful.

Suggest a Free Alternative

Maybe you just can’t afford it full stop. But that doesn’t mean that you should necessarily miss out. Why not suggest doing something else instead that doesn’t cost any money? Instead of a play date at soft play why not take it in turns to host a play date at your own houses instead. Or if the weather’s nice, how about going for a picnic or to the park instead. Socialising doesn’t always have to cost you money. There are plenty of activities you can do and places you can go for free.

Arrange it for Another Time

Perhaps you do want do the activity you’ve been invited out to do but you can’t afford it right now. If that’s the case and there isn’t room in the budget this month, then why not see if they would mind doing it next month instead?

Don’t Apologise

Finally, if you really don’t want to do something just say so. You don’t owe anyone an explanation and you don’t have to feel guilty for saying no. Sometimes we over-commit ourselves and do things we don’t really want to because we’re worried about upsetting other people. But that isn’t fair on us. Sometimes we just have to look after ourselves and do what’s best for us and there is no reason to feel ashamed for doing that.


Saying no can feel like an awkward conversation, but it doesn’t have to. If the social invites come from people who truly value our feelings and our company then they will understand when we say we just can’t afford it right now.

Do you have any tips for saying no to spending money?

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How to Say No to Spending Money

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Hi! I'm Katie

I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about all things money with a little life organisation thrown in for good measure. Join me!