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Embrace Rejection! How Getting Denied Saves Us Over $50,000

My life has been filled with rejections, and I’ve finally come to embrace rejection as a natural part of life.

To me, being rejected is akin to the urgent need to visit the bathroom after indulging in too much Taco Bell. The discomfort is undeniable at first as your stomach sours from the inside out. But once you’ve relieved yourself, there’s no greater sense of relief!

Ideally, I want all of you to adopt a positive mindset towards rejection. Strive to find the silver lining in being turned down by a person, institution, or opportunity.

Don’t allow a “no” to deter you from pursuing your desires and dreams. Instead, harness rejection as a motivating force to achieve greatness and fulfill your ambitions!

Getting Rejected By So Many Schools

As we find ourselves in the midst of college acceptance and rejection season, I wanted to share a story that may resonate with some students and parents out there. Hopefully, the story will make you feel better.

Last fall, my wife and I were navigating the process of applying to preschools for our daughter. It brought back memories of when our son faced rejection from six preschools.

Despite being a loving family capable of paying full tuition, we were surprised that none of the schools accepted us. I had even hoped my role as a high school tennis coach would work in our favor as a fellow educator, but it didn’t.

Ouch, what was wrong with us? I thought to myself. The rejections felt personal because the schools were also rejecting our son.

As a battle-tested parent, you can hurt me all you want, but don’t hurt my children.

The System Seemed Unfair

Interestingly, a friend of mine applied to four of the same preschools we had applied to and was accepted by all four. This stark difference puzzled me deeply.

Two schools had a lottery system designed to enhance equity and inclusion. Meanwhile, the other two had limited spots, primarily reserved for non-sibling applicants.We’re talking less than a 5% acceptance rate.

It was then that I realized the system seemed inherently biased, where one’s identity and social standing played a crucial role in acceptance.

To these schools, being a stay-at-home parent or a high school tennis coach weren’t good enough. At the time, I wasn’t yet a bestselling author with a major publisher nor did I share my work as the founder of Financial Samurai.

They preferred families with high-paying occupations in finance, technology, consulting, law, and medicine. It struck me as ironic that being an educator was seemingly low on their priority list as educators themselves.

Until then, having retired early, I had relished in the freedom afforded by sufficient passive income, enabling me to navigate past societal barriers. Oh, the joy of not having to contend with others determining your fate!

However, with the birth of our son, we once again found ourselves subject to the whims of external forces.

Got Into One Preschool Due To Luck

In the end, we were accepted into just one out of the seven preschools we applied to – our neighborhood preschool, which offered the most convenience.

Our stroke of luck came when we frequently bumped into one of the preschool teachers over four months at the Science Museum. Through our interactions, we formed a friendship, and he encouraged us to apply. As it turned out, he was also married to the admissions director.

Thus, we secured a spot for our son in the Fall 2019 school year. It felt like a victory for chance!

However, our joy was short-lived as COVID struck five months later, prompting the school’s closure for a couple of months. After it reopened, we made the difficult decision to withdraw our son from preschool due to the pandemic.

As stay-at-home parents with a newborn daughter, we felt it was safer to educate him ourselves, especially since he was already falling ill frequently and passing it on to us.

Despite this setback, we remained hopeful for the future and applied to a well-rated language immersion preschool for the fall of 2020. We highly value bilingualism and saw this as new opportunity to start again.

Although we participated in interviews and a playdate evaluation, we received a rejection letter in the end. It was disappointing news indeed.

Silver Lining Of A School Rejection

Although we were disappointed with the rejection, we made the most of it. Our plan was to reapply again for fall 2021 admissions, hopefully with a better chance of getting in.

The preschool rejection ultimately saved us $36,500 in tuition because we would have felt obligated to attend in the fall of 2020 if we had gotten in. But given their schooling was remote for the first half of the year, we would have felt foolish spending so much on video classes.

What we did instead was discover that homeschooling is an incredibly efficient way for children to learn. Two-to-three hours of homeschooling is equivalent to seven-to-nine hours of regular schooling.

We also got to spend an enormous amount of priceless time with our son and newborn. From daily nature walks to trips to running around empty zoos and amusement parks, our son had a blast.

Although 18 months sounds like a long time homeschooling, it now feels like a tiny moment in time that went by so quickly. I wish we could have that time back.

Taking a field trip to the beach thanks to homeschooling
Getting rejected from preschool saved us $36,500 - We ended up homeschooling our son for 18 months
A trip to the Palace of Fine Arts during homeschooling when our son was three

Another Rejection That Will Ultimately Save Us More Money

When we got into the language immersion school the second time around, they were back to in-person learning. Although masks were required during the 2021-2022 school year, the kids adapted and learned how to socialize and have fun. We were grateful to have been accepted and I wanted to get involved with the school.

In mid-2022, I responded to one of the school’s monthly newsletters written by the head of school, asking if he’d be interested in doing a video call about personal finance with other parents. At the time, the school was regularly doing video calls with parents and outside professionals on health, child development, and other interesting topics.

As I was already doing lots of video and podcast interviews publicizing my then soon-to-be released book Buy This Not That, I figured why not volunteer to do a talk with the school community as well about personal finances.

After a week with no response, I tried pinging another e-mail address. Two weeks later, still no response. So I gave up and moved on.

No Response Again A Year Later

A year later, in mid-2023, I was reading another one of his newsletters, this time about the progress of the school’s new campus on the growing west side of San Francisco. It discussed the school’s fundraising efforts so I decided to reply with an inquiry. Maybe I could donate enough to create the Financial Samurai media center or something.

But again, I got no response.

Did all my e-mails go directly into his spam folder? Maybe! I know everybody is busy, especially a person of his stature. Alas, thinking this way may just be a coping mechanism for not being worthy of a response.

As the man behind the Financial Samurai newsletter with over 65,000 subscribers, a size exceeding the school’s newsletter by likely over 100 times, I understand the commitment required to address inquiries. It’s not easy and sometimes I fail to respond as well. However, I try my best whenever there is a follow up.

I’ve come to realize something rather amusing after this latest rejection. If I cannot reach the head of school through email, he likewise can no longer reach me. And without the ability to contact me, he cannot make any requests either.

Another $20,000 – $50,000 In Savings Thanks To Rejection

After more than two years at the school, I’ve gotten to know parents who’ve been asked to join the board and attend intimate fundraising dinners. They have higher profiles due to their occupations and levels of wealth.

Every independent school raises funds from existing parents and alumni to help pay for day-to-day operations and need-based scholarships. If a school is building a new building, there will be an even greater need to fundraise.

I’m happy to attend the annual school-wide fundraiser dinner or parent-hosted fundraising events, where food and drinks are served and everybody is having a good time. The tickets range from $180 – $350 each, most of which goes to the school.

However, for anything else, I’m good. I tried to make a connection but to no avail. My conscience is clear! Rejection will ultimately save us between $20,000 – $50,000 over the next ten years because this is the amount we would have likely donated.

Additionally, following a liquidity crunch resulting from the purchase of a new home in 2023, the absence of additional donations to the school comes as a relief. This allows me to direct my focus towards rebuilding my freedom fund.

The reality is, as two unemployed parents, our household income is likely among the lowest compared to other families in attendance. We’ve already lost our financial independence because our passive income is no longer enough to cover 100% of our living expenses.

Embrace Rejection And The Joy Of Being A Nobody

Although being ignored or rejected may not initially feel good, look on the bright side. Being left alone is wonderful. This situation. is the ultimate in stealth wealth.

As soon as you give money, you will be hit up at least every year for more money. If you give big money, then other organizations will also hit you up for donations too.

At some point, you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of asking. You might also not want to give for whatever reason, which requires saying no. And saying no often feels bad.

Imagine losing a fortune during the 2022 bear market. During downturns, organizations actually need and ask for even more money. To feel pressured to give money during a difficult period may be uncomfortable. But you may do so anyway due to peer pressure.

Giving is a personal matter. It would be nice to only give when you want to, not when people ask you for money. However, that’s seldom the case once you are on the giving list.

Speak Up If You Want To Be Heard

I’ve been a nobody since 2012 when I left my day job in finance. However, sending my kids to school has forced me to be a minimum somebody again as I interact with parents, teachers, and administrators. I enjoy being a part of a community where people come from all different types of backgrounds.

I’d like to contribute more than the minimum, partly because I’ve always done so. However, I’ve also come to realize I’ve become good at being a nobody after being one for so long. As a result, I’m often invisible, like the main character in Ralph Ellison’s book, Invisible Man.

I know this to be true because I’ve played pickup pickleball games with and against people who won’t remember who I am.

I was also at a fundraiser dinner for our District Attorney the other month and was ignored. There were six of us sitting at a table and each person asked what the other one did. Everybody took turns sharing their occupation and backgrounds except for me. Why? Because nobody asked me and I was happy to just listen.

If you don’t want to be completely ignored, then you will simply have to speak up. The people who get the most attention are generally the ones with the loudest voices.

And if you want to succeed, you must face rejections multiple times until you do. The secret to your success is to gut things out with tremendous grit. Because if you do not quit, you cannot fail.

To Better Deal With Rejection, Embrace the Happy Loser Archetype

Clotaire Rapaille, a psychoanalyst and ethnographer, describes a “happy loser” as someone who views rejection as a challenge. The initial “no” sparks their determination to try harder and persevere. Clotaire provides an example where a company measures success not by the number of sales a person makes, but by the number of rejections they face instead.

In essence, until the happy loser encounters a “no” from a potential client, they haven’t truly succeeded. This archetype resembles someone who loses a challenging tennis match. Instead of making excuses, the happy loser hits the ground running—logging miles, seeking coaching, practicing serves relentlessly—to prepare for future victories.

I’ve always believed that the most formidable opponents are those who’ve weathered rejection throughout high school yet endure. These individuals have faced enough rejection to last a lifetime. Driven by a deep-seated determination to prove others wrong, they often emerge as the greatest successes. Their accumulated frustration becomes a powerful motivator, propelling them to surpass the competition.

Some may question whether the mindset of a happy loser can be cultivated. The answer is yes! By reframing your perspective to seek out “no’s,” you’ll gradually find satisfaction in facing rejection head-on.

How I Plan To Use The Savings From My Rejections

After getting rejected from the immersion preschool the first time around, we ended up investing 100% of the $36,500 in tuition savings by buying a forever home in mid-2020.

The purchase was one of the best lifestyle improvement choices we ever made. It was a larger house with a better layout to raise a family, especially during a pandemic. It also doesn’t hurt that the home appreciated in value as well.

From the $20,000 – $50,000 in total savings derived by not donating to my school over the next ten years, we will mainly contribute the savings to our kids’ 529 college savings plans. Goodness knows how expensive college will be in 12-15 years when it’s time for our children to attend.

If there are leftover funds in the 529 plans, we’ll convert the remainder to Roth IRAs for our children. A 529 plan is one of the best generational wealth transfer tools. Instead of giving money, gift education.

Finally, we’ll use some of the savings to dollar-cost-average into the S&P 500 and to private real estate funds. Over the next 10 years, these investments could double in value. So in reality, getting rejected and ignored could end up saving us over $100,000 in 10 years. And for this reason, I’m extremely grateful.

Rejection is a part of life. Let’s normalize it! When it inevitably happens, try to look at the positives.

There are multiple paths that will enable you to get to where you want to go. For us, our rejections have meant greater financial security, less guilt, and more peace. What a wonderful tradeoff to have.

Related: Perpetual Failure Is The Reason Why I Continue To Save So Much

Reader Questions And Suggestions

Have you saved money by being rejected or ignored? If so, what was the circumstance? What other types of rejection have you experience that turned out for the better? How have you learned to embrace rejection to improve the quality of your life?

Instead of getting rejected by your company by randomly getting laid off one day, take matters into your own hand by negotiating a severance package instead. To learn how to do so, pick up a copy of How To Engineer Your Layoff. Being able to take control of your future is a wonderful feeling. 

Listen and subscribe to The Financial Samurai podcast on Apple or Spotify. I interview experts in their respective fields and discuss some of the most interesting topics on this site. Please share, rate, and review!

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 60,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter and posts via e-mail. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. 

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