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Is it Rude to Say No When You Just Don’t have the Money?

Odd Cents - Budgeting and Income

No. It is not rude to say no when you don’t have the money. In fact, it’s ruder to say yes when you know that it’s out of your range. When it comes to spending money, I’ve perfected the art of saying no so well that people know that I have to check my budget first. If it’s not in the budget, it’s a no for me.

But saying no when you don’t have the money can be applied to many situations. It’s applicable when someone asks to borrow money; when someone asks you to give them money (with no indication that they will pay you back); and when you’re tempted to spend money on something you don’t need. However, the first scenario is one that many people struggle with.

It’s Not Rude to Say No

I can count the number of times that someone has asked to borrow money from me. But there is one situation which stands out in my mind. A few years ago, a guy that I barely knew asked to borrow money from me. He came with some crappy story that his aunt wanted to get some items out of the port. She did not have the money at the time and she told him to ask me.

First of all, no. Second of all, we’re not that close that you should even think it’s ok to ask me to borrow money. Third of all, who is your aunt? In this case, saying no was as polite as I could be. It wasn’t only that I did not have the money, it was the way the whole situation came about. He was very lucky that I kept my cool and did not let my annoyed side come through. Needless to say, I never called him again, he never called me, and all was well in the world.

This situation is a great example of when you should not even worry about being rude when you’re saying no. He was wrong to ask and inserting what I think were lies into the case was wrong. However, if you prefer to be polite when you crush the potential borrower’s money dream, I have some suggestions.

How to Say No Politely

There are many ways that you can say no if someone approaches you to borrow money. Just be prepared for some type of anger or disappointment or in extreme cases, a guilt trip. Although you may feel guilty when these feelings are apparent, remember that if you lend this person money, you may never see it again. Can you comfortably survive with that cash?

1. Be Direct and Keep it Short

To be honest, you do not have to explain to anyone why you cannot loan them the hard-earned money that you work for. You do not have to give excuses or justify why you’re not going to lend the money. Keep your response short and get straight to the point with these answers. The aim here is to deter this current request and discourage any future requests.

  • Sorry. No.
  • It’s not possible for me to lend money.
  • I’m not in a position to lend money to anyone.

2. Ask for Time

This is at best a delay tactic, especially if you’re going to say no anyone. Sometimes people may try to pressure you and this is useful to get them off your back temporarily. However, when the time has passed and the borrower approaches you again, you can say:

  • Sorry. I checked my finances and I cannot spare any cash.
  • Sorry, but my finances are tied up.
  • I wish I could, but I cannot help you.

3. Offer Non-Financial Assistance

When you turn down the request, you can offer to help the borrower using non-financial methods. One example is to give your time. Offer to help them with tasks; babysit the children; or cook them a meal.

Why You Should Say No

If someone approaches you to borrow money, you may actually consider it for a minute. However, before you give an answer, there are few things to consider. You have to check your finances. Can you afford to lend this money without sacrificing your financial health? It’s not that you’re heartless or cruel, but you are protecting your wallet and your relationship with your friend. If the borrower never pays you back, it will put a strain on your relationship. My mother always says, “Don’t lend more than you are willing to lose.”

Further Reading

Free From Broke: Diplomatically Say No to Friends and Family That Want to Borrow Money – 6 Tips
She Blossoms: How Do You Say No When Someone Asks You for Money?
Everything Finance: Ways to Politely Say No When Someone Asks for Money
Real Simple: 10 Guilt-Free Strategies for Saying No
Money Under 30: Money Manners: How to Say No (Nicely) When Friends and Family Ask for Money