Although I don’t spend a ton of time on the internet these days, one of my weaknesses is watching home tours on YouTube or Netflix!
I just love a good before/after reveal or a dream home tour — especially if it’s any type of farmhouse. 🥰
I recently watched a tour of a massive home renovation with so many cool (but completely unnecessary) bells and whistles… and I couldn’t help but smirk when the homeowner continued to mention all the things they apparently “couldn’t afford”.
Honestly, you renovated a multi-million dollar mansion and you want me to believe you “can’t afford” to upgrade the finish of your kitchen faucets?
I don’t think so!
Every time I hear a ridiculous statement like that, I’m reminded of my commitment to never say: “we can’t afford that”.
You might think that sounds like a silly commitment — after all, it’s just one little phrase, and certainly, we can’t actually afford to buy EVERYTHING we see or like or want.
As a quick reminder: I’m self-employed and work very part-time, and my husband is a Christian school teacher… so you can rest assured that we do not have access to unlimited financial resources. 😂
Even still, I’m committed to (almost) never saying “We can’t afford that”.
Reason #1 = It’s not true.
Think of all the times you blurt out “we can’t afford that” as a response to something you don’t want to spend money on.
Now consider… is it actually true?
- Do you truly not have $25 to cover lunch with a friend?
- Will your bank account actually be overdrawn if you buy those crazy expensive shoes for your child?
- Do you legitimately not have enough funds for that weekend getaway?
- What about the $3 treat in the grocery checkout lane your kids are begging for?
- Or the pricey new handbag your friend is trying to talk you into buying?
My guess is you actually do have enough money to cover the expenses I listed above.
The real truth is you simply don’t want to use your money in that way — it’s your CHOICE, and you’d rather choose something different.
This is not bad or wrong… simply a choice.
The point I want to make is that you technically CAN afford it… so don’t keep lying to yourself (and the others around you) that you can’t.
Reason #2 = It’s not healthy.
I won’t pretend to know all the fancy technical terms to describe the way our brains are wired… but I’ve read enough books and had enough life experience to know that our brains are extremely powerful organs.
Our brains can be “trained” and “programmed” — either positively or negatively — and negative thinking totally messes with our brains.
“Brains get good at what they do. Negative thoughts create ‘channels’ in your brain. This way of thinking can become your default. If you do a lot of negative thinking, you wire your brain to be good at producing negative thoughts. Your brain also gets good at seeing things to think negatively about.
One of the many byproducts of negative thinking is stress, which then leads to more negative thinking. “source
So, if we’re constantly thinking or talking about all the things we “can’t afford” (or telling our children we can’t afford certain things) we’re essentially programming our brains with negative thoughts regarding our finances.
These negative thoughts can cause unnecessary stress in our lives… which can then lead to even more negative thinking (about more than just our finances).
It’s a vicious cycle that isn’t healthy for us or for our family, and it’s not easy to stop.
Reason #3 = It’s not stewardly.
Dave and I are quite frugal — but I honestly don’t think we’re cheap or stingy.
That said, it’s much easier to become stingy when we adopt a scarcity mindset, thinking about all the things we supposedly “can’t afford”.
By changing the way we think and talk about our finances and acknowledging that we have a CHOICE in how we save, spend, or give, we become better stewards of our resources.
We are more likely to save instead of spend when something isn’t really necessary.
We are more likely to enjoy a fun splurge as a special treat instead of grudgingly thinking about how much money we’re “wasting”.
And we are more willing to give generously, especially considering none of our money is truly “ours” to begin with.
A Few Alternative Responses:
I realize there are some things in life that we truly can’t afford – although, thanks to credit cards and bank loans, those things are few and far between (if you’re willing to acquire debt).
For all the things you actually CAN afford but just don’t want to spend your money on, here are a few alternative responses.
- That’s not in the budget for us right now.
- It’s just not important enough for me to dole out the cash.
- Maybe another time, but not today.
- Let me think about it for a bit. (leave the time frame open-ended)
- We could purchase that, but then we wouldn’t be able to purchase _________.
- We can buy ________ or _________, but we can’t do both today.
- Let’s put it on your birthday/Christmas list. (especially good for kids)
- That’s not how I’d choose to spend my money right now.
I realize how insignificant it might feel to simply change one statement; however, I’ve noticed so many benefits in my own life over the last 10 years of refusing to say “we can’t afford that”.
By simply changing the way I phrase things (and the way I think about our financial situation), I feel more empowered, more proactive, more positive, and more motivated.
That attitude and mindset definitely transfer over to our kids too.
My hope is that our children will see money as a tool they can choose to use in many different ways (for good or for evil). That they will feel empowered to make wise financial choices. And that they will see the benefits of giving generously, even when money feels “tight”.
There really is no one “wrong way” to spend or save or give — it depends so much on personal preferences.
However, in my opinion, there is a “wrong way” to talk about our finances… and I, for one, am committed to (almost) never say: “We can’t afford that”.