Children and Money

The Myth of No

The Myth of No

We didn’t like being told “no” as a child, and we don’t like the word any better as adults. Whether it’s the allure of the forbidden (“no, you can’t date that boy!”) or feelings of entitlement (“I deserve that new purse!”) we struggle to accept that “no” is sometimes the best answer.

It seems too many people mistakenly associate “no” with deprivation. Standing in front of our coveted item, we justify that we work hard, so there is no reason to tell ourselves “no”. And if we do tell ourselves “no”, then we are deprived.

See how emotions and money get tangled together?

Feeling deprived isn’t a positive emotion. In fact, it feels pretty awful. What if I told you that “no” can be one of the most powerful and positive responses you can tell yourself? Two letters that no longer depress you, but help you honor your goals and dreams.

Feels different, right?

This is why it’s critical to create yearly family goals in alignment with your values and dreams. You want to choose a family save goal that excites and unites everyone to work towards a common goal. Now, when you’re at the store, you have a better answer than “no” when your children want you to buy something. When save, spend and share was still new to my girls, I would still take them through the following process:

  1. Acknowledge the item and remind them of the family goal: “I like that toy too. But I’m really looking forward to going to Disneyland with you and riding the teacups.”
  2. Affirm their commitment to family goal: “Aren’t you excited to go to Disneyland too?”
  3. Affirm your commitment to family goal and empower them to make money decisions: “Our family trip is so important to me that I’m choosing to go to Disneyland with you over this toy. If you really love this toy, you can choose to add it to your goals. The choice is yours.”

I never had to say “no” to Lauren and Taylor and more often than not—the toy was soon forgotten once the girls started thinking about our family vacation. They never felt deprived. Now days the girls are seasoned vets. They still find things they want, but instead of begging me to buy it for them, they ask me how they can earn money to buy it themselves. Love it!

This also works on you too. Many times when we find ourselves tempted to pull out our credit card, it’s often an emotional response to a bad day. When I find myself tempted to buy something I don’t want or need, I remind myself what really matters most—taking my girls to Disneyland.

Nothing would make me feel worse then disappointing my girls. So it’s easy to put down my credit card and walk towards my goals. I don’t feel deprived; I’m getting a vacation with my family where we’ll make life-long memories that I will treasure forever. Instead, I feel good. I demonstrated good financial behavior to my girls by honoring our family goals that mean so much to me personally and the world to them. I haven’t lost anything but gained so much.


The Heavy Purse Store is now open! My new downloadable Money Club Workbooks are now on sale. Each workbook provides five targeted lessons to help you raise Financially Confident Kids. Please check them out in The Heavy Purse Store.

January 25, 2013  •  22 Comments  •  Children and Money

Leave a Comment


  1. Friday, January 25th, 2013
    Excellent post! The word that I've been using lately that means the same to me as "goals in alignment with your values and dreams" is priorities. What are our priorities in life when it comes to managing our money? When money was good and we owned a beautiful home and nice cars and went on trips we didn't spend any time thinking about this. Why didn't we set goals or define our priorities? We were old enough to know better, but we were just busy making money and spending money I guess without ever considering our future.
    • Friday, January 25th, 2013
      Absolutely, people need to take the time to figure out their priorities or goals whether they are flush with cash or barely making it. Otherwise we just spend without knowing if we're spending on the things that matter most to us.
  2. Monday, January 28th, 2013
    I love this post! It's all about delaying gratification and saving money for the things you really want!
    • Monday, January 28th, 2013
      You got it! We don't deprived when we pass up things in the store because we're choosing in favor of what our heart's really want.
  3. Monday, January 28th, 2013
    Great post Shannon! We're going through teaching this to our children. Hearing no generally is not fun at all, but it's vital to achieving long term financial success. Having those annual goals is a great thing to do with children, we do it ourselves. It helps them begin to see the power of money as well as the importance of delaying gratification.
    • Monday, January 28th, 2013
      Absolutely. And the younger children learn this then it will become second nature for them to set goals and understand honoring them means saying "no" to some lesser important items and it won't feel like deprivation.
  4. Monday, January 28th, 2013
    Great post! The neat thing will be - after we have said "not right now" for so many things - finally being able to say "yes." It makes that moment all the more special.
    • Monday, January 28th, 2013
      Thanks for your comment, Brian. It will feel so great without the eventual buyer remorse that always crops up when we make emotional purchases.
  5. Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
    great post, Shannon.. i have tried to build this realization in my children.. basically that you "can't always get what you want", and that you will often have to make choices.
    • Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
      Thank you, Jefferson. You are exactly right. Money is about choices. It's great that you're teaching your kids that as well, so they can make smart choices with their money.
  6. Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
    I really like the process you outline above. My parents did something similar. They gave me an allowance for the chores I did around the house but would NEVER buy me anything that I asked for other than Christmas and Birthdays. If I wanted something I had to save up for it or do extra chores.
    • Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
      Thank you for your comment, Marvin. I don't want my girls to feel deprived or entitled, which can be a delicate balance! It sounds like you had smart parents who instilled some good money values in you.
  7. Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
    That seems like a great tactic to use with kids! I know for myself, I have to redefine it in my own mind when I feel like I'm depriving myself. I have to rationalize the reason I'm saying no to this item, is because it's not worth the stress of saying yes, then being worried about money. It's all about reframing things.
    • Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
      You've got the right philosophy. We've been conditioned to associate "no" with deprivation, and we need to reframe our mindset.
  8. Friday, February 1st, 2013
    That's awesome!! Sounds like you have some seriously grounded kids. You have to say no in order to be able to say yes to the things that really matter.
    • Friday, February 1st, 2013
      Absolutely! Sometimes "no" means "yes" to what you really want. My kids are fantastic (and I sincerely hope every parent says that about their kids!), and I've been working with them on save, spend and share for a few years. They're really starting to own their decisions, which I love.
  9. Friday, February 1st, 2013
    This post is so important! I really hope I can instill these kinds of financial values in our kiddo's life. No doesn't always mean ''NEVER'' or ''Nothing''.
    • Monday, February 11th, 2013
      Thank you Catherine! You're absolutely right. The sooner children understand this, they better off they will be now and as adults, handling their own money.
  10. Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
    Love this post, Shannon! We too have implemented alot of these techniques with our kids since they were quite young. Thus, they never ever ask for stuff when we're at the store, because they know that if they want it, they've got to save for it. It's worked well to curb any attitude of entitlement and instead get them focused on earning their own way and making value-based spending choices.
    • Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
      That's great, Laurie! It really makes a huge difference. I love my girls asking me for more ways to earn money, so they can buy things themselves. Plus, they don't feel entitled or deprived. Win-win!
  • Meet Shannon

    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan