We can’t afford it.

It comes out of the mouths of families all over the world.   We say it about big things and little things.  We say we can’t afford a three-week trip to Europe but we also say that we can’t afford to buy a coffee, a pair of shoes or the cereal the kids are begging for.  What do we really mean when we say We can’t afford it?

In North America, We can’t afford it has become the catch phrase to replace real money discussions.  It is the fallback position of many families who don’t know what is happening with their money. It often has nothing to do with their capacity to actually pay for something.

fingerscrossedIt is a big lie.  Most families can afford to do and have many of the things they want if they choose to make those things a priority. They may not want to spend money on that particular choice, but they could afford it if desired.  We can’t afford it gets used to avoid having to examine priorities and have real conversations about money.

We can’t afford it.  What does it really mean?

 ·      I feel broke.

·      I don’t know if we can afford it.

·      I don’t want to spend on that.

·      I don’t want to think about money.

·      I don’t want to make a decision.

·      It isn’t a priority.

·      I feel scared about our money.

·      We are spending our money elsewhere.

And, occasionally, it actually means that it is beyond the current financial capacity of the family.

In the book Soul of Money, Lynne Twist says “Money is like water. Money flows through all our lives, sometimes like a rushing river, and sometimes like a trickle.”  Our money does flow through our lives and we make all sorts of decisions about how it comes in and how it goes out.  When we say, We can’t Afford it when it is not what we really mean, it creates negative energy and blocks the money flow.  It gives up our power.


How could you say We can’t afford it differently?

·      We are choosing to spend our money elsewhere.

·      What would we have to change to make that happen?

·      Let’s look at what we really want.

·      That is not our current priority.

·      How can we fit that in?

·      That is not how we are spending our money today.

Even when the response is a no, the way it is said changes the power and the energy.  Statements that have positive energy and build options and power of choice keep the money flow open.

What do you really mean when you want to say We can’t afford it? How will you respond instead in a way that is positive, empowering and keeps the money flowing?  Be kind to yourself and a good friend to your money by using supportive and positive language.


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