Hell Ya or No – A Spending & Time Manifesto

Adam Personal Finance, Personal Improvement 2 Comments

I’m a huge fan of Derek Sivers. Startup aficionado, deep thinker, author, and more (read his blog or check out his books). He’s the founder of CD Baby and one of my favorite people to read. He has an essay that’s made the rounds, so I’m not sharing anything novel, but it’s something I’ve come back to again and again online.

I’m going to quote a bit here. As usual Derek gives you the gold in very few words:

Hell Ya or No

“Those of you who often over-commit or feel too scattered may appreciate a new philosophy I’m trying:

If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then say no.

Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” – then my answer is no.

When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to really throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say “HELL YEAH!”

We’re all busy. We’ve all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out.”

I love that. For everything. Spending. Time. Anything you’re saying yes to should go through this filter. How can we apply it with some concrete examples?

Example 1 – Dinner vs. Travel

You LOVE to travel and have been dying to see Paris your whole life. With a bit of credit card hacking you can accomplish this for a week for about $1,200. You LIKE to go out to eat and this habit is costing you about $50/week or $200/month. That’s 6 months of eating out or 12 if you want to moderate and just cut it down 1/2 (A LIKE) in exchange for a trip you’ll remember forever (HELL YA).

Example 2 – Big SUV vs Early Retirement

You drive a gas guzzling SUV (I drive a 4runner and am totally guilty here. You may see a post about a switch in vehicles this year) and you rarely use most of that space. You LIKE your car, but it’s costing you an extra $2,000 a year in gas plus some in insurance. What you would LOVE is to retire 5 years earlier (HELL YA). That $2,000 per year (and maybe a few other smart decisions), compounded for 20 years could make that happen. You not only save more, your expenses decrease as well.

Example 3 – Your Time vs Other People’s Expectations

Now I don’t fully agree with James Altucher on how easily and simply he’s willing to ignore requests from friends, particularly for important moments like weddings. I believe that friendships are like gardens. They have to be nurtured and taken care of to receive the rewards. I make a real effort to show up.

HOWEVER, if it’s not that big of a deal and you have no interest, don’t go to things. You’re not obligated to go out for drinks (A LIKE) instead of saving that money to get out of debt or use the time to work on your side hustle (HELL YA). Don’t let other people’s expectations and invites own your time.

This is less of a problem when your not in demand, but the more people want from you (personal or professional), the easier it is to get stretched thin and not focus on what really matters and moves the needle.


My only caveat to this is that when you are starting out in life or business or the internet. You may need to try a lot of things and potentially take some meetings and jobs that aren’t “Hell Ya’s”. You need to intelligently apply this rule on a sliding scale. The more in demand you are, the higher the “Hell Ya” bar becomes.

When you ensure you only spend your money and your time on things that get a HELL YA instead of an ok… you take control of your finances and your day.

Are you applying HELL YA or NO to your decision making? If so, how has it changed your life?

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Comments 2

  1. Fervent Finance

    This is a neat idea. I definitely have gotten better at saying no to things I don’t want to do or will most likely not make me happy. In NYC if I said yes to every brunch or happy hour or night out, I would probably be living paycheck to paycheck.

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