How to say No, I can’t afford that to your kids

How to say No, I can’t afford that to your kids

Saying no is tough but if you are on limited funds it is a necessity or you going to be in debt and stressed. Not good. Let’s look this week at how we say no ….to our kids, to other mums and to oursleves!  Okay let’s look first at those pesky pesterers, the kids.

I suggest always

  • Being firm and clear 
  • Moving away as swiftly as possible from the situation or subject and /or distraction.

as kids get a little bit older I recommend

  • Saying no and explaining why briefly (e,.g not enough money / you laready have one / spoil you lunch.) Do not feel the need to keep repeating – they heard you the first time!


  • moving forward  and distracting.

A little bit older  still

  • Perhap you can anticipate what they may pester you for so you can state your intent clearly beforehand e.g We will not be buying a treat today at the shops. I only have money for milk and bread so please don’t ask.


Sometimes (okay probably several times) despite these tactics your child may well whine, cry and say they hate you.  Do try and deal with it and don’t try to appease it by giving in. Being a debt light parent is one of the best gifts you can give your child and saying no is excellent role modlelling.

Good luck!





  1. January 11, 2011 / 9:23 am

    I am so with you on this, if I tell the boys we don’t have the pennies, they just accept it and say maybe when we do. It is good practice to be honest. Another thing that works for me is to tell them what would happen if I didn’t have it ie we would be living on beans all week and there would be no cake!

  2. ella
    January 11, 2011 / 1:34 pm

    Great post. I do the same as Jen and explain what would happen if we did buy the item they want. I also tell them that they can put the item on their wishlist, this gives them something positive to do towards perhaps getting the item one day without buying it there and then.

  3. Paul Graves
    January 11, 2011 / 1:54 pm

    An excellent article.

    Once my older boys turned 10 I went through the household budget, showing how a few thousand pounds can turn up in the bank account at the start of the month, and why there is just a few pounds left at the end of the month. I wanted them to see that money is sparse, and even if we wanted to buy some things we just can’t.

    For the younger ones, saying no, without needing to justify myself as a parent, is one of the best gifts they can be given. No haggling, no negotiation, no maybes!

  4. January 11, 2011 / 2:39 pm

    Great post Becky.

    Sometimes I try and verbalise the decision rather than the circumstance so I’ll say “I’m not going to buy that” rather than “we can’t afford it” because yes I probably can afford to spend another £5 on sweets, but I’m not going to!

    I like what Paul says in his comment about Saying No – it’s a valuable skill for us to learn well and model to our children.

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