Every Yes is a No

This basic fact is something my parents taught me when I was young.

I remember wanting a toy at the store….a baby doll care set.  It had a training potty, bottles, bowl and spoon, pretend diapers…everything.  It was beautiful.  I was all about baby dolls at that age. (Which might explain my 6 kids .)  It wasn’t my birthday, not near Christmas.  If I wanted that toy, I was going to have to save up the money and buy it myself.

doll care set

I got a weekly allowance that I could use to buy lunch at school, or I could use the food my folks provided to pack my own lunch and keep the money.  I packed my lunch and saved the money towards the toy.  My parents also paid small sums for odd jobs like lawn care.  Some jobs we did just because we were allowed to live there, but the bigger more strenuous ones came with a financial perk. (Albeit a fraction of what it would have cost to hire an adult to do the job—and rightly so.)

Finally the day came that I had enough money to buy the toy and I realized that if I bought it, I would be completely broke.  So I started saving again.  I decided when I had double the cost of the toy, I would buy it. Then I would have the toy and still a comfortable little nest egg.  The work and saving continued.

By the time I had double the amount to buy the toy, I had a LOT of labor invested.  My mom drove me to the store and we walked together to the doll aisle.  My heart was beating a little faster.  I wondered if they would even still carry the beloved dolly care set. I held my breath as we rounded the corner.

….Shoo, it was still there.

I gripped my little wallet and we stood in the aisle looking at it together.  My Mom said, “Would you rather have that toy, or would you rather have the money?”  It was a simple statement, but I knew she really meant, “Would you rather have that toy right now, or would you rather have the unknown opportunity the money can provide in your future?”

I left the store without the toy, still clutching my full wallet, and I was happy.  My mom never once mentioned that it was a wasted trip.  She was ok with either decision I would make, and either decision would have been a good one.  The important thing was realizing that a yes right then was saying no to something else and making the decision with that knowledge instead of with heated emotion.

Every No is a Yes

When we take the time to write out a budget, we can know whether our latte habit could prevent a summer vacation.  That if we buy these shoes, we will still be able to eat.  It’s freedom from worry.  It’s freedom to spend within boundaries that we set up while considering the cost to our future happiness. While boundaries prevent us from going very far in one direction, they also prevent bad stuff from getting in…like debt or slick sales presentations. The beauty of budgeting is you get to set your own boundaries.

I think the technical term for what we are talking about here is “opportunity cost.”  They talk about it sometimes in economics class, but the best way to learn it is in the toy aisle after a bunch of hard work.

{BTW, this principle is true in more than just money.  When I say “Yes” and overcommit myself, I’m saying No to good health and family time.  When I say Yes to Cake, I say No to energy and a trim waistline….}

What do you think?  Are there any yes’s you made where the resulting No came as a surprise? Any time you changed your choice because you thought about future consequences?


8 thoughts on “Every Yes is a No

  1. Angela says:

    Kelly, You are so cute. We all make little slip ups here and there. You guys amaze me with what you’ve been able to accomplish so far. Definitely nothing to sneeze at!

  2. Meredith says:

    I’m so glad you are back. I have missed your posts. I pray your health issues are resolved soon.

  3. Angela says:

    Thank you, Meredith. It feels good to have been missed :). I have high hopes about the health problems. After today another piece of my stress will be resolved and I can start the road to real healing.

  4. Angela says:

    Thank you Elena Graci. My last big committment for the summer was over last night :). Hoping for a week of RR before I go back for teacher meetings.

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