don’t fall into the “i can’t afford it” trap


A few weeks ago, I found myself looking at a style blog and coveting a pair of very nice boots that someone purchased. Almost immediately the thought, “I can’t afford it” flashed in my mind.

However, that was totally untrue.

The shoes were something I could afford. In fact, I spent the same amount of money on something different that very weekend. I could buy those shoes if I wanted to, but I chose to put my finances elsewhere.

Thoughts like “I can’t afford it” – especially when we actually do have the resources – place our power outside of ourselves. We feel acted upon and forlorn, rather than feeling like a proactive person who is capable of making choices aligned with our best interests.

Just because we choose to say “no” to something, doesn’t mean that we “can’t.”


PS – Business in the City is tonight! 

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  1. Yes!! I always tell myself “That’s not a priority right now.” It reminds me that I’m working towards other financial goals, so then it’s not even a question of whether or not I can afford it, it’s that I don’t want it right now because something else is more important.

    1. Exactly. Well done. Do you have any priority in particular you are working towards that you’d mind sharing?

  2. AmysAdventures

    That is such a good way to think about things. I find myself constantly telling my husband things are too expensive. I need to watch my words and ask him to help me examine if that is the best use of our money.
    Thank you!

    1. That’s awesome to hear. I hope this helps – maybe you could put a reminder like this in your wallet to keep it in mind when you have the urge to go down that train of thought in the future?

  3. Ashlee Thurlow

    Yes! I’m pretty terrible at this honestly. I said “I can’t afford it” to massages for years, and then I started getting one about once a month (thanks to the push from a steal of a groupon deal!) and then I stopped getting sick ALL the time AND started making actual progress (and thus money!) in my businesses. I’ve started asking myself to think outside the box when I say this. Like “how can I make that money?” or “where can I reorganize my finances to make it happen, since I do technically have the money?” Or “How can I get this or something similar without spending so much?” I was also swooning over some great riding boots recently and have, for the moment, decided to get the boots I have fixed by the Cobbler in my area! (yes they do still exist!) Because I really do love them! $300 Frye boots are on the agenda at some point, just maybe not right now (unless Ethan actually remembers them for my bday! lol)

    1. Well said, Ashlee. I went through the same massage thing myself earlier in January. It’s great to break a limiting belief like that.

      I also like how you get creative with things in order to see if it really is possible after all in one way or another.

      Cheers to your boots now and possibly new ones later!

  4. Ashley Laabs

    It’s also a trap to always tell your self you CAN afford it just because you have the funds. Some people use that as an excuse to completely avoid setting financial priorities!

    1. Great point. I think that falls under the part about “aligned with our best interests.” Our best interest is not ego-driven to put ourselves in compromising situations. : )

  5. Exactly. Similarly, oftentimes people say they “don’t have time” for certain things, when it’s not really true. They have the same amount of time as someone else, but they aren’t choosing to make that a priority right now.

    1. Exactly. I sometimes go back and forth on what to write to people. I have no problem saying no, but without giving some kind of “don’t have time” or whatever feels kinda cold/mean. It’s tricky. Even when you want to avoid using something as an excuse it can just sound bad.

  6. Courtney Elizabeth

    Great point! I fall into that trap, especially with clothes. I need to keep in mind that I choose to put my money toward other things, like great meals and travel. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    1. So true! People put prioities on all sorts of things, we just end up thinking we “can’t” do other things by default, rather than intention.

  7. Rachel

    I love this way of looking at things. Actively choosing to do something is far more empowering than saying you ‘can’t’!

  8. Lindsey

    I fall into this trap a lot… Just a couple of days ago I was out browsing shops and said to myself too many times to count I am not able to afford this, etc. I agree with you 100% in regards to saying no does not mean we can’t! Great post!

    1. Yay! I’m glad to hear that you’ve found a way to feel more empowered when shopping (or not!).

  9. Caitlin Dreger

    Wonderful Post! I totally agree that everyone places different emphasis on what to spend their money on. How do you deal with people who say “they can’t afford things?” I struggle with acceptance of others choices in these type of situations. Example-You can’t make the girls weekend away cause you can’t afford it but you were just bragging about your Nordstom shopping spree. I know my getting angry and judgmental isn’t right but how to deal with that for myself productively?

    1. Yeah, that can be a tricky situation! I would say that a) the friends might just have different priorities and not value the friend trip as much as shopping / not realize the trade offs they are making at the time. It’s hard to accept, but the truth is we can’t control their choices, just our reactions to them. So b) dwelling on it too much might not be the best use of your time and ultimately dampens your own awesome outlook/mood.

      Instead, maybe you could meditate or pray (depending on your preference) about what you hope they will come to realize within themselves? It sounds kinda woo-woo, but the truth is you want to DO something and this is something that you can “do” that doesn’t force your opinions and beliefs on your friend, but could still help them in the long run. It also helps you feel less helpless in the situation. I do this in difficult relationship situations and it helps me to recognize what I can and can’t do to make the change I seek.

  10. Kelley

    I love this way of looking at things. I’ve often felt sorry for myself because “I can’t afford” so many things I would like to have. You’re right, it’s a very passive stance. Saying “I can, but I choose not to” is so much more empowering.

    1. : ) That’s great to hear! I hope you have a chance to use the new framework sometime soon.

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