budget living spending

Your Balance Story: Learning to Say No, Slow Down, and Stop Buying

This post is part of the reader-submitted Your Balance Story series. This series showcases stories by readers where they have achieved balance in their lives. If you’d like to submit a story, please click here. This post comes from The Happy Homeowner Blog.

your balance story

Balance has not come easy for me. In fact, it is still something I consider to be a work in progress as my goals and interests are constantly evolving. Much like Amber, I have been on a personal improvement journey for many years, so I was instantly drawn to the opportunity to share some of my experiences.

I’ve been writing a series on my blog about my story of getting out of debt, and the process has allowed me to quickly surmise that I have achieved balance in three very large ways:

1. I’ve learned the power of “No”.

2. Material objects don’t determine my self-worth, credibility, or reputation.

3. I’ve made a concerted effort to Just… Slow… Down….

The Power of “No”

Saying ‘no’ had always been difficult for me:

You want me to do your share of this project? Sure!
You want me to spend money I don’t have at a fancy restaurant? Of course!
A fancy vacation when I have over $10K in accumulated credit card debt? Yes!

In a nutshell, I lived most of my early adult life as other people’s doormat. I never quite understood the power of the word ‘no’, nor did I realize that using it would not immediately cast me off to some deserted island, forever lost in my poor decision to actually tell someone ‘no’. I was a people-pleaser and I was proud of it.

Or so I thought.

It took years before I finally managed to squeak out a real ‘no’. Boy, did that experience change my life! Now I consistently, respectfully, and happily tell people ‘no’ when I cannot do something or do not agree with a suggestion. Guess what? It didn’t cause me to lose my job, fight with relatives, or lose any friends.

Material Objects Don’t Determine Self-Worth, Credibility, or Reputation

I once had over $14,000 in credit card debt. I charged my way into oblivion by buying clothes, vacations, concert tickets, and other frivolous items. If I had a bad day, I shopped. If I saw something I liked but couldn’t afford it, I charged it. I foolishly believed that if only I had that shirt or went on that vacation, people would like me more.

My epiphany came one day while on a shopping spree and charging yet another needless item. Why was I buying these things? I had NO IDEA! I didn’t need them, and, quite frankly, I didn’t really even want them. So I politely explained to the sales associate that I had changed my mind, left the store, and never looked back.

I paid off every penny of that debt in one year. I replaced the need to buy with the satisfaction of friendships and relationships built on mutual interests such as running and conversations that focused on goals and dreams. I felt alive for the first time in my life and I didn’t have to rely on my credit cards to provide that genuine happiness.

Just… Slow… Down…

At one point in my debt-payoff frenzy, I was working six jobs. Yes, six! I was the little (crazy) train that could—I could work all of these jobs, go to grad school, have a social life, run marathons, and so on.


While I kept up a frenetic pace for about a year and a half, I finally had a breakthrough (breakdown?) when I realized I had scheduled myself to work 28 days straight, with finals week thrown in the mix.

Hello, Superman called and he wants his cape back!

I quickly realized that if I kept this pace of life, my life would, in fact, pass me by. I promptly re-assessed my goals, re-adjusted my timelines, and slowly began eliminating my random jobs and side gigs. A few years later, I purchased my first home and since have fallen in love with a more “domestic” lifestyle.

Now I make sure to tame my workload and I don’t take on anything that won’t enhance my life in more ways than one. I seek out entire days where I can simply just be and revel in the small joys in life. After all, if we’re not truly enjoying our life, are we really living?

So there you have it—my balance journey! If you should find yourself over-committed, debt-ridden, or down-trodden, just take a moment to breathe, re-adjust, and chart a new course. You are the owner of your balance journey, your happiness, your destiny. Life really is what you make of it and I’m in the camp of making it the best f’in life possible.

This post comes from The Happy Homeowner Blog.


  • I think this is an AMAZING story and it really hits home to me! Those are the exact things I struggle with balancing and you just recharged my batteries 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Congratulations both on clearing your debt and realising that you cannot work yourself into the ground. I’m bad for over-committing- always happy to take on more and more work until I’m just drowning in it. Learning to say ‘no’ is definitely an important exercise!

  • What a great story on finsing balance! I love it..

    I had my recent epiphany about saying ‘No’. If I say no politely and firmly on why I am saying no, it doesn’t hurt me at all. It’s still tough to say no but I’m learning that it is absolutley fine to say so. 🙂

    I like your writing style as well. off to your blog to check it out!

  • This is such an inspiring story! Not too long ago, I made similar decision to cut back and hold on to only the things in life that really make a life. I find now that I prefer walks in the evening along the river with my husband to standing in a restaurant lobby waiting for my table and overpriced food. And I love it when I can visit my brother and he invites me to hang out with him while he works on cars at his shop. There are so many other things I found I prefer to spending money – more satisfying things and activities. This story makes me feel like there are finally some others who actually get it!

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