How Saying ‘Yes’ Changed My Life

Yes is a small, but powerful word. When you start saying 'yes' to things you normally would say 'no' to, it can change your life in many amazing ways.

I’m writing this from the 6th floor of the dingy Whisky Pete’s Hotel in Primm, Nevada. What? You’ve never heard of it before? Unless you’ve made the drive at least once between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, my guess is you never have. I know I didn’t until two nights before I left when, after I got news that the place I would be staying at in St. George, Utah was booked, I looked for things to do and places to stay between here and Utah, because I still wanted to leave Thursday instead of Friday.

Lo and behold Primm came up in an internet search, as basically the “poor man’s Vegas.” They weren’t kidding. It smells like an ashtray, and I’ve never seen more old people in wheelchairs, smoking, while still hooked up to oxygen tanks. But hey, it was $28 for a night so…

Little word, Lots of power


So what’s the point of this trip and staying in a dingy, ashtray-smelling hotel? It’s because late last year I made a point of stepping outside of my comfort zone and saying “yes” to things I normally wouldn’t. In this trip I’m taking my series Real Money Stories on the road and shooting a piece in Utah. Normally the thought of road-tripping by myself would be a drag, but I’m really enjoying it.

I used to stay home a lot watching every single penny that left my wallet, and would wait around for work to come to me. Yes, I was applying for jobs and searching for projects and clients, but I was doing the bare minimum. And it showed in my income last year.

So I decided enough was enough. I took the bull by the horns and started creating my own opportunities. I bought a camera and started producing my own material that no one paid me to do. I wrote scripts, started acting in videos, played the ukulele and even wrote my own silly song, and I went on a road trip and even camped. Did I mention I hate camping?

I did this with the faith that if I kept saying yes…yes to myself, and yes to opportunities outside of my comfort zone, that somehow it would pay off.

Saying ‘Yes’ Changed My Life


I wish I had time to write all the ways that it has paid off, but this post would be incredibly long. So you will have to trust me when I say that it has, and keeps paying off in ways I could have never imagined.

Does that mean you will never fail or have major stumbling blocks if you try something new? Hell no! My iPhone got killed in Utah, my crowdfunding campaign was a major fail, and on this trip I have already cracked a windshield because there was loose gravel on a lonely desolate road going deep into the Mojave Desert . By. Myself.

But those are the experiences that make for great stories, and great memories.

Yes is a small, but powerful word. When you start saying 'yes' to things you normally would say 'no' to, it can change your life in many amazing ways.

Why saying ‘No’ matters too


Just as much as I’ve been saying “yes” this year, I’ve also been saying “no” more often as well. To be honest, it’s still a work in progress, but I’m especially careful taking on commitments these days, at least without giving it much more thought.

While I’ve gotten really good at saying “no” to spontaneous purchases, I wasn’t the same way with projects, side hustles, parties, etc. Now at the very least I say, “I’ll give it some thought and get back to you,” but even with saying that there was some guilt.

I realize though as I get older, that guilt is unnecessary, and it’s time to let it go. As wonderful as money is, not all jobs are created equal. And sometimes your time is more precious than anything else.


How are you with the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in your life? Which of the two words do you need to be saying more often? When did you say ‘yes’ to something that you originally would have said ‘no’ to? How did it turn out? What did you learn in the process?



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Tonya Stumphauzer

Tonya is a video editor/producer and writer living in Los Angeles who enjoys beach volleyball, playing ukulele, and running. Visit her blog Budget & the Beach!


  • Before I started my own company, I didn’t say yes to a whole lot of experiences, primarily because my day job consumed my life. Now that I have the flexibility to say yes, I do make a habit of doing it and I agree with you that it may not always pay off financially, but from an experience and life enriching aspect, there is nothing more fulfilling.

  • Great story Tonya. When did you start writing for Frugal Rules?

    I can totally see where you’re coming from on this perspective. I’ve been trying to push myself to do a number of different things that are outside of my comfort zone. Success or fail, I’m glad to have tried them because at least I did something and gave it my best!

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      A couple months ago, but this is my second to the last post for FR. I’ve failed many times too, but at least I can say I tried as well.

  • The balance between yes and no is admittedly hard to navigate. I think they’re both equally important to master.

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      Very true, and that was the original title of this article because I think saying “no” is JUST as important as yes.

  • I actually believe that knowing when to say yes and when to say no are critical to success. Often, we say yes too much to trivial things and no to the things that would be “big wins”, take us out of our comfort zone, and make us grow. I try to focus on saying no to commitments with people I wouldn’t enjoy spending time with and yes to challenges that will help me grow as a person. It’s a fine line and I don’t think I’ll ever master it!

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I am the same way and it’s funny because that was the original title of this article. They both are important and powerful words. I’m taking more time to consider then.

  • I’ve been working on leaving my comfort zone too this year, Tonya. It’s so scary on one level, but I think it’s truly necessary for real growth. People who have BIG successes always take big risks. Good for, you, Tonya, for taking the chance!

  • I say “Yes” way too often and get myself overbooked, over-worked, and overly stressed. I’m trying to do better about actually saying “no” more often. As Carrie, from Careful Cents, pointed out to me recently though, even though you might think you are saying “yes” to everything you are still saying “no” to some things. For example, when you say “yes” to taking on additional commitments, you are saying “no” to spending time with family or friends, or “no” to taking care of yourself.

  • Saying “yes” has given me a more positive outlook on life. It was what led us to having a kid!

    But I find “no” to be more difficult to me. I’m working on it everyday, and am finding more power from being able to let myself be selective and focused.

  • We never knew people actually stayed in Primm! It’s just the funny rollercoaster town a little before Vegas. 🙂 But $28 a night sounds pretty great…

    Like you, we’ve found ourselves saying yes more, and also saying no more. In the past, we would have said yes to some things, been too overloaded to do them properly, and then felt bad about our shoddy work or lack of commitment. Better to say no upfront and avoid all of that hand-wringing! But we’re also trying to say yes to every social engagement possible, because that’s the important stuff in life!

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      Well trust me, there is no need to stop there to stay. I only did it because vegas is way too expensive and I needed to stay someplace kind of half way. I’m actually saying maybe more to social engagements unless they really need to know my rsvp. If they do, I usually say no.

  • Saying “yes” is definitely something I need to do more of. I’m always consumed by the what-if’s of a situation and process so many things at once, that often times it’s easier to say no. Saying “yes” more often opens up so many more experiences and some of those can’t afford to be missed!

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I know I just said yes to something and I don’t know if I will be successful but I have to try!

  • I am pretty good about saying “yes” when the right opportunities pop up, especially if it catches me off guard. I tend to think of it as a sign to evaluate, which often leads to “yes”, although now always. 🙂 “No” is still harder for me because I feel so fortunate and want to give-back but I have learned to say “no” more often and really pick and choose where I spend my time and money. Stretching myself too thin helps no one! Glad you’re saying “yes” and “no” and seeing results, Tonya!

    • Tonya Stumphauzer says:

      I’m with you and if I stretch myself too thin I get very cranky, so it’s best to try and avoid that. 🙂

  • Jason B says:

    It seems like this is the year that a lot of people (including myself) have decided to step out of their comfort zones. I’ve been saying yes and doing things that I usually wouldn’t do. So far it has been an amazing year.

  • catherine says:

    You really do need to know when to say yes and when to say no. Right now I really want to pick up another freelance job but i don’t know if it’s a good move at this point in my life. We have a lot going on with some family stuff and I don’t know of I could give it my 100%.

  • Tre says:

    I really need to push myself outside my comfort zone more. I also need to work on saying no. I’m too much of a people pleaser. Solo road trips are great experiences!

  • I’ve gotten a lot better at saying no the past few years, but I still have a lot of room for improvement in saying “yes.” I’ve gotten a little better the past year since taking a new job, but I could say “yes” a lot more to things that push me outside of my comfort zone.

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