Act 342

It’s okay to say “I can’t afford it”.

This has always been a challenge for me. Rather than admit I’m short on money, I have at my disposal a litany of lines to get out of the uncomfortable admission that I don’t have the money. I’m busy. I’m sick. I’m working. I’m tired. I have other plans. I have to be home with the boys. Even after almost a year of this public exposure of my financial follies, I still have trouble saying the words “I can’t afford it”.

What happens when you say “I can’t afford it” is that people will offer it up for free, will offer to lend you money, will offer to pay for you or might not invite you back. That’s not what I want. I want to be able to afford what I want and by accepting the generosity of others, I’m admitting that I can’t afford it. You can certainly see the viciousness¬†of this circle, can you not?

I’ve made excuses to get out of evenings out, lunches with colleagues, weekends away, sports registration and school fundraisers for the kids.

There’s no shame in not being able to afford something. In fact, it’s pretty reckless to do other wise. If anything, there is honour is being able to afford what you have. So why the stigma. Maybe it’s just me. But somehow, I doubt it.

Economics tells us we have unlimited wants and limited means. That’s just the way life is. How it’s come to be a shameful thing to not be able to afford something is a riddle to me. One I may not figure out anytime soon. But I will try. And I will admit, at least once in awhile, that there are some things I cannot afford, and I’m okay with that. And if I admit it to you, please don’t make excuses, or apologize and share your equally heart breaking story about the time you couldn’t justify the purchase you just made. Just acknowledge it. Maybe even admire it.

As consumers, we are preyed upon at every moment of every day to buy things we don’t need. I don’t know how much longer we can afford to ignore this omnipresent influence of gigantic corporations and ginourmous financial institutions.

Just think of it this way, every time you say out loud “I can’t afford it”, and put your credit card away, you’re denying a wall street banker another dollar. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face as you say it, I don’t know what will.