Choosing Not to Afford Things

My Pet Hate

Please excuse me while I have a short rant about a regular occurrence that really grates on me, and I imagine a good few of you too. It’s a small thing, really only four words, but it’s a concept that lies at the heart of why most people will never become financially independent. Those words?

You. Can. Afford. It

What’s the problem?

Often talking with friends, family or colleagues, if conversation turns to something a person is considering buying, or paying for an experience like a holiday etc, these four ugly little words will rear their heads. “You can afford it”. They just fly out of someone’s mouth, then they’re there, floating in your face in the middle of the conversation. It can almost be something of a challenge. You have the money (they presume), you have at least a fleeting interest in this thing, so on earth why wouldn’t you pay for it?
It is a shortsighted concept that you should buy anything you want and have enough money to pay for (or are able to buy on credit). It’s why people spend all of their salary and more on things and experiences they think they want, and then have to keep working and working to be able to buy more things they think they want, and the cycle continues. It doesn’t acknowledge that most people can’t in fact buy EVERYTHING they want, because in buying item X they may no longer have the money for items Y or Z, or that they could be doing something with their money other than spending it all each month.

What’s the solution?

When I’m faced with this dirty little phrase, I’ve come up with my own stock answer that seems to do the trick in most cases. I explain that I may well be able to afford it, but that I “choose not to afford it”. If that gets blank stares I may elaborate. In the hope of drawing others away from rampant spending and consumerism, I assert that while I could pay for it, it isn’t a priority for me at this moment in time.
In choosing not to afford things that would only bring fleeting happiness, I was able to put down a deposit on a house less than a year into my full time working career. Doing this was more of a priority for me than owning the latest iPhone (which FYI, now costs more than my first car). And then I see colleagues in the same job as me who have worked and earned the same amount as myself, who complain they couldn’t afford to buy a house for years, or even couldn’t afford the excess on their car insurance if they were to have an accident (spoiler: they crashed and had to pay the excess).

Choosing not to afford things can set you free

Actively deciding that that you aren’t going to spend your money on certain things means you’re making smart money choices and prioritising what’s important to you. For those aiming for financial independence, it will help you stay the course and ensure you reach your goal.

2 thoughts on “Choosing Not to Afford Things”

  1. I really like it! You can afford anything but not everything. It’s always about prioritization. As Ramit Sethi says: ‘Spend extravagantly on the things you love and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.’. I think you do a great job on this by saying that you choose not to afford those things.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Sir Budget, you’re always welcome here on TFE 🙂
      It’s a simple concept but one that’s gotten lost in recent years. Most people want (and try to buy) everything all at once, and then seem to love complaining how they never have any money! It’s not about deprivation, just being conscious of your own values.

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