Last week on the train to Tel Aviv I couldn’t help but overhear as the girl sitting across from me was talking to her friend on the phone. She did talk rather loudly, by who am I really kidding; listening to other’s conversations is fun!
The girl on the train (I am going to call her train-girl) was somewhere in her early twenties and I am guessing that her friend (now phone-girl) the same. From the one-sided conversation, I was listening to, I could understand that train-girl and phone-girl had some kind of outing planned, that phone-girl was now calling to cancel, saying that she didn’t have the money for it.
Train-girl, apparently didn’t want her to cancel and instead offered her all sorts of solutions; ask your mom, borrow from me, etc., but phone-girl didn’t budge and train-girl got more and more upset. After a while she ended up telling her friend that “if you really wanted to come, you would have made it a priority and found a way to get the money”. With that the phone conversation ended between the two and train-girl then called another friend to tell her how annoying phone-girl was….
Listening to that conversation got me thinking about a few things. First, I think that phone-girl was rather brave for saying that she didn’t have the money as well as not changing her mind. That said, I also think that train-girl was right; it wasn’t a priority for her and that is why she was able to share it like she did. If she really would have wanted to go, she probably would have found a way by lending the money from someone else even if it meant spending money she didn’t have.
For me (and probably for most) saying “I can’t afford it” is extremely hard. It makes me feel vulnerable, sharing things about myself that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have. What does it say about me? That I am not in control, doesn’t have enough or isn’t successful enough?
The thing is that saying “I can’t afford it”, doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t have any money, but that I don’t have the money for that particular thing, because they are destined for something else. Even if it isn’t the most pleasant thing to say, the knowledge that if I don’t, it will hurt me on a financial level and keep me from sticking to my principles, my budget and my priorities of doing what I had planned. In the end, I want to spend my money where they benefit me the most, and that is ultimately more important than what others might or might not think.
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