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When I hear the word “No” it brings me back to Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign from the eighties. This is not a great connotation, considering the “Just Say No” campaign instilled morbid fear in my soul. I can still visualize Nancy Reagan’s pleading face on TV with her perfectly coiffed hairdo.  Scary.

Not a great start to the word “No.”

I am not a fan of the word “No,” at least when it’s directed at me. When it comes to not getting the food or stuff I want, I hate the word.

I recently spoke with a client who also hates saying “No” to herself. It’s ironic that people who say “No” to the nice homes, cars, trips, bags and clothes most frequently are able to afford the really nice stuff later.

There is a “Just Say No” muscle in all of us. It is either strong and well-chiseled, or it is weak and flabby, or somewhere in between. This muscle needs to be exercised and maintained.

Recently, I decided I would embark on a “Just Say No” challenge in my spending. I would say “No” to at least one thing a day.

Day 1: Said No to an iced tea I was jonesing for.
Day 2: Said No to buying a coffee in the morning (caffeine-theme) and to carne asada fries (oh, the self-denial!).
Day 3: Said No to a CS Lewis book on Kindle.  Decided to order the used copy instead.
Day 4: Said No to a $9 amethyst bracelet that promised serenity, after one of those days with my children.  Also said No to a can of tomatoes for chili.  Made Asian lettuce wraps instead.
Day 5: Said No to stopping at In-and-Out and buying some fries I was desperately craving.  Picked up a bag of potatoes and baked some in the oven instead.  Confession: I bought some chocolate with my grocery money.  Hey, I didn’t say I’d say “No” to everything.

What did I learn from this exercise?  I felt tempted to say “Yes” to spending when I was tired, stressed, hungry and wanted caffeine.  When I wanted comfort.  It was almost always on “small” things that seemed inconsequential.

Okay, so how much did I save?  I saved about $23.  I think I also came ahead on a ton of calories too.  And, in the long-run, I will save more because my “Just Say No” muscle is growing stronger.  The funny thing is saying “No” to myself became a fun game after a while.  It also became easier.

How has saying “No” to yourself in any area of your life paid off?