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How to set Financial Boundaries

Your ability to grow wealth relies on your ability to effectively set financial boundaries.

That means being able to say no. Both to yourself and to other people.

According to Instagram “No is a complete sentence.” While some people might be comfortable with this, I’m not a fan. I don’t think there is any harm in being able to give someone an explanation, or some context to your decision. Especially when they are people you care about.

You also don’t owe anyone anything.

What are boundaries?

Before we go any further, I should first clarify what I mean by boundaries.

Essentially, a boundary is a limit that you set, about what you want, find acceptable or are comfortable with. This can be related to many parts of your life, including but not limited to:

Time: “I can’t attend that meeting, as I don’t work on Fridays.’’

Emotional: “If you continue to shout at me, I will walk away.”

Physical: “Please don’t go into my bag without asking.”

Conversational: “I’m not comfortable talking about Susie when she’s not here.”

Financial: “I’m sorry, that’s not within my budget right now.”

Being able to set boundaries means that we can stand up for ourselves. We’re taking responsibility for our needs and voicing them. We are drawing a line in the sand as to what we are willing to accept, from ourselves and from other people.

Knowing where your boundaries are is important but communicating them is equally critical. Sometimes you may also have to communicate the consequence of someone crossing that boundary – and be willing to follow through with it.

How to set financial boundaries

Being able to clearly communicate your limitations with regards to money is important for how you manage it. Getting clear on your Money Rules can be a good first step with this. That allows you to be more grounded in your decision making. It also helps you communicate more clearly what you’re willing to accept, financially or otherwise.

For example, if someone is trying to sell you something and you don’t know what you value, what your goals are or what your spending limits are, then you may feel much more susceptible to psychological sales tactics, especially the icky ones like scarcity. It’s easier to say “That isn’t in my budget.” or “I’m not interested, thank you.” from a place of intention. This will ensure that you stick to your budget without feeling resentful, pressured or “stingy”.

Equally, if you’ve been invited out with friends but you’re trying to save for something important, being able to manage that situation will help you reach your goal faster. But instead of just declining the offer, setting a boundary might mean that you suggest an alternative. Perhaps you can suggest a less expensive venue or activity. Or you could communicate that you’re saving and would like to make sure you can pay your bill separately.

Financial boundaries are also relevant to how you earn money. If you’re offered a job that is below what you’re comfortable with, you will need to set a boundary. Recognise your worth and state that you’re not willing to go below a certain value. Not only will this ensure you reach your financial goals, it’s less likely you’ll feel resentful or undervalued in your role.  

The same is true for business owners and how they set prices for their products or services.

Why setting boundaries can be hard

For many people setting boundaries can be difficult, especially financial boundaries. I find that many women, in particular, find setting boundaries challenging. There are lots of reasons for this, but I break down a few of the most common ones below.

People Pleasing

If you’re sensitive or very empathetic, you may find yourself getting overly concerned about how your boundary will be received. Part of being able to overcome this is, of course, considering the delivery of your boundary but also understanding the limitation of your control. You can only control your intention and delivery, the way it is received is not yours to manage. It can be helpful to remember that the way a person receives a message is less about you and more about their lens on the world. This lens is shaped by the myriad experiences, thoughts, beliefs and patterns they have accumulated throughout their lifetime.

Judgements

Sometimes our concern about setting a boundary is worrying that we will come across in a less than favourable light. For example, we might be thinking that we will seem stingy, boring or ungrateful if we are to decline an invitation. Often these feelings of judgement don’t belong to the recipient of the message, but to us. If we hold these judgements, either about ourselves or other people, then it’s more likely we will think others feel that way about us. Working on releasing these judgements will help lighten their burden.

Conflict avoidance

Not wanting to have a conversation about your boundaries can seem like a good way to avoid getting into a fight. However, the irony is that not stating our needs up front often leads to feelings of resentment and awkwardness over time. This can be a difficult situation for those people who were brought up in households where arguments escalated to aggression and/or violence, or for those who were taught to suppress emotions. Being able to understand these subconscious patterns is important in being able to overcome them.

Shame & Embarrassment

Because money is such a taboo subject for many women, it can be a source of embarrassment and shame. If at some point in your life you have received the message that the amount of money you have (or don’t have) is tied to your worth, then it’s natural that you may feel shame around it. Having to say no to something because you “can’t afford it” may leave you feeling judged or like there is something wrong with you. Being able to see your choice in the decision and recognising that you are inherently valuable will help release feelings of embarrassment and shame.

Feeling restricted

Believe me when I say this – it is entirely possible to say no from a place of abundance. Feelings of restriction and deprivation are a result of the stories we tell ourselves. Being able to learn to manage your emotions will give you not only emotional freedom but also financial freedom as well. This is exactly the work I do with my 1:1 Mind Money Mastery clients!

3 Rules for setting financial boundaries

Finally, to make setting your financial boundaries a bit easier, here are three simple rules to follow:

  1. Be clear on what your boundaries are before sharing them with others. Get grounded in your motivations, your values and what you’re working towards.
  2. Give people clear and honest context for why you’re saying no or suggesting an alternative. In this case, No is not a complete sentence (at least if you want to keep your relationships intact).
  3. Make sure you set your boundaries well in advance. Have the conversation as early as possible and in private if possible, to ensure you can discuss and give context.

If you’re struggling to set financial boundaries, know that you’re not alone. It takes time to build up that muscle. Start small and work your way up. But just know – you’re entitled to say and ask for what is most important to you.