URUS bersama Suraya | Twenty-Seven Ways to Say No Politely When Friends/Family Ask You For Money/Time (That You Don’t Have)

Twenty-Seven Ways to Say No Politely When Friends/Family Ask You For Money/Time (That You Don’t Have)


“Can I borrow your money? I’ll pay you back later”.

“Come attend my event! Everyone is chipping in RM100”.

“Do this for me. We’re friends, so it’s free right?”

Has anyone said these to you before—a friend, a family member, or sometimes even a casual acquaintance? The reasons may vary. They may need it for emergencies such as paying for hospitalisation charges or urgent car repair. However, some reasons may be for leisure purposes, like parties or social gatherings.

It would not be a problem if you have unlimited wealth and time, but most of us do not have that luxury. It is especially a problem when you are asked for money when you do not have much or any at all to spare. Rationally, you know you have to say “No”, but it is hard and you do not know how to do it.

Some of you may be made of tougher skin and are able to say “No” easily. But for the rest of us who are naturally more agreeable in nature, we tend to value harmony and peacekeeping moreover being confrontational.

In any case, here are 27 ways to say “No” politely. You must learn this - if not, you could be agreeing to almost every financial request out there!


If they want to borrow your money, you may answer:

  1. I'll think about it.
  2. I'm building my (emergency/house/wedding/business/etc.) fund.
  3. I'll send you work opportunities when I see them.
  4. I need to pay back my own loans.
  5. You can sell your [item].
  6. I can only spare (a small amount that you do not mind giving away—if they pay it back, then good. If not, hey, it’s worth removing that kind of people from your life).
  7. I need the money myself. Can I borrow from you?


If they want you to buy something, your answer could be:

  1. I'll think about it.
  2. I don't like the style/colour/size/whatever.
  3. I've been decluttering.
  4. Let me get another quotation.
  5. I might have already bought that, need to check.
  6. I have a similar one at home.
  7. Do you have anything within the RMxxx range instead of RMxxxx?
  8. Will discuss this with my partner.


If they want you to attend an event that you cannot afford to go to or is not within your budget:

  1. I'm not available on that date.
  2. I’m not in the area.
  3. I'm working on that day.
  4. I’ve made other plans.


If they want you to do something for free:

  1. I’m working on that day.
  2. Okay, transfer me (a suitable amount) and I'll do it, I can do it with the extra income.
  3. Here are some freelancing platforms, they have what you’re looking for.
  4. Here's a company that can help you with that.


If they want you to donate:

  1. I've pledged my donations to another organisation.
  2. Yes, of course, I care. I'll look for volunteering opportunities.
  3. What is the organisation’s website? I'd like to do a background check first.


If they are persistent:

  1. My final answer is no. Thank you for your understanding.


A quick note about persistent people

Most people, in most situations, will get it. If you use any of the phrases above, they will back off.

Most people. Not all.

Some are persistent, either they lack understanding of social cues, or were brought up differently (leading to them feeling entitled to your money/time/resources), or are simply not allowed to give up until they get a firm “No” from you (some salespeople are specifically instructed to pursue every lead).

In that last category, some people—especially salespeople—are also trained in sales closing tactics, where they are told things like “50% of sales happen after the 5th contact”. In a way, they do want to wear out your “Maybes” UNTIL you give a “Yes” (or a “No”).

So, your last resort? You have to use this phrase: “My final answer is no. Thank you for your understanding”.

What if they ask again? What if they ask, “Why cannot?” Remember, you do not owe them an answer because it is YOUR money, not theirs. Repeat the phrase, again and again. Until they back off.


Last words

There are people out there who got into financial trouble because they did not learn how to say “No”. They co-signed personal loans and house loans. They lent money they needed for essentials. They ended up fighting with their spouses (some got divorced).

All because they could not say a simple two-letter word. So, let’s not learn the hard way; learn to say “No” politely.



This article is contributed by Suraya Zainudin—writer, speaker and digital marketer for one of Malaysia’s top personal finance websites.



The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK).