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The best household CEOs can say 'no'

The good news is that it's really not that difficult as long as you create a household budget to help you.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 23, 2012 12:51PM

This post comes from Len Penzo at partner blog Len Penzo dot Com.


Len Penzo dot Com on MSN MoneyBy most accounts, there are more than 250,000 words in the English language.


Of course, I have my favorites.


Image: Couple looking at computer (© Corbis)For example, I've always been quite fond of "platypus." I smile every time I hear myself say it. For some reason, there happens to be a soft spot in my heart for the word "kerfuffle" too. And I probably shouldn't admit this, but I also find myself occasionally thinking of ways to insert words like "hemidemisemiquaver," "snickersnee," "slangwhanger" and "fatuous" into some of my blog posts. Unfortunately, I usually strike out.


Then again, I was pretty successful today.


I'm sorry; I'll stop bloviating. (Never mind that "bloviate" is another word I'm inexplicably attracted to.)


If you asked my kids, they'd tell you my favorite word of all time is "no." They may have a point; it's a word I use freely with them.


"Hey, Dad! Brandon's at the door. Can I do my homework assignment tomorrow?"


"No. Tell Brandon you're busy."


"Hey, Dad! Can we adopt a rabbit?"




"But, Dad! Jenny said she'll give us the cage and 2 pounds of carrots for free."




"Hey, Dad! Can I have cake for dinner tonight?"


"Hmm. I don't see why not."


"Really, Dad?"




My 12-year-old daughter, Nina, has been pestering me for her own Facebook account for more than two years now. And while I admire the kid's tenacity, much to her chagrin I've given the same answer all 566 times she's asked. (Yes, that would be "no.")


My kids think I'm always taking the easy way out, but I'm really not. (Post continues below.)

The truth is, it's hard for me to say "no" as often as I do; it takes real discipline. At times, it requires a heavy dose of intestinal fortitude. Still, when I have to make a tough decision and say "no," I say it. After all, that's part of being a responsible adult.


Saying "no" often requires us to disappoint others, or appear rude. Even worse, if you're dealing with immature people, it increases the risk of personal conflict and lost friendships.


The thing is, if you stand tall and stick to your guns, knowing how and when to say "no" can pay big dividends. For that reason alone, it's certainly a skill that's well worth mastering -- especially when it comes to managing your personal finances. In fact, it's a key trait of effective household CEOs.


Look, it's tough enough spending less than you earn when you have a limited income. But it's virtually impossible when you can't muster the courage to say "no" to lavish vacations, expensive luxury cars, designer clothes, and impulsive purchases.


And while saying "no" may seem like an almost Sisyphean task sometimes, the good news is that it's really not that difficult as long as you create a household budget to help you. That's because a budget is a terrific tool for instilling financial discipline and guiding your spending decisions.


Believe me, I realize saying "no" is rarely easy. But it's one of the smartest strategies available for keeping your financial house in order.


(And if you're really lucky, it'll help keep your kids in order too.)


More on Len Penzo dot Com and MSN Money:

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