I dislike the term “I can’t afford it.” It sounds victim-like. I prefer “I choose not to spend my money on that.” Which is a lot longer and weirder to say but it is more accurate. And it comes from a place of power unlike “I can’t afford it.”
There is very little you truly can’t afford. I can’t afford a 50 million dollar mansion. True. No matter how I changed my life right now I couldn’t afford it. But a fancy pair of shoes, yes. A fancy car, yes. A bigger house, yes. More vacations, yes. There are lots of things I could afford if I wanted to, but I choose not to because I am pursuing other goals. I also can’t have ALL those things. I could have one, maybe two of them. If I wanted a fancy car more than anything in the world then I would have to live in a smaller house, and eat out less, and never go on vacation. But I could have it if I wanted it bad enough.
The same goes for you. Language is a powerful thing. I’ve been writing about it a lot lately. Try saying “I choose not to spend my money on that.” instead of “I can’t afford it” and see how it feels. I bet you feel more in control of the situation. You can imagine a scenario where you could buy it but the lifestyle that goes along with it isn’t something you would want. You might think “Yes, I could buy that $50,000 car but then I would have to eat Mac and Cheese for dinner every night and live in a studio apartment with my 3 kids. So instead of that lifestyle I choose to buy a used clunker and eat real food and live in a house that fits us.” Those are choices you are free to make. That’s powerful.
I was at a restaurant a few years back and they had one of those candy grabber machines. You know where you pay 50 cents and the claw comes down and grabs 3 cents worth of candy. A generic tootsie roll and a Dum-Dum lollipop. You know the kind. Anyways, a little girl wanted some candy and her dad said “No, we can’t aff… We don’t spend our money on that.”
He started to say “We can’t afford it.” which probably would have pacified the little girl but it wasn’t true. They could afford 50 cents. But it wasn’t a good use of the money. “I can’t afford” it might have made the little girl feel like she was inferior to other kids who were getting candy out of the machine. “We don’t spend our money on that” changes that dynamic. We do have the money but we are choosing not to spend it. That’s a whole different situation.
What do you think?