Well, that's just bullshit.
They tell you that they can't afford you, but they're fucking with you.
What they are really saying is that you haven't clearly told the why they need and want your creative genius.
Imagine this... Tesla. The car. 4 Billion in sales in 2014. Why is that?
Does anyone really need a Tesla? No.
As of May 2016, Louis Vuitton has 27 Billion in sales. Why is that?
Does anyone really need a Louis Vuitton bag? No.
But looking at their sales you can see people (lots of people) want either a Tesla or a Louis Vuitton bag. Both are unnecessary to life, but nice to have.
Which means why are they buying those things and not your design services?
Because you haven't communicated the dream. You're not selling them on the experience.
The limits you put on your wallet limit what you charge or think you can charge your clients.
So while you put these imaginary limits on what you think your clients can afford, you also limit yourself from putting yourself out there so you cannot be rejected.
You need to own your worth. Own that you fucking rock. Own that without you that they can't have the beautiful home of their dreams. Own it.
They need you, but if you don't first believe that they do, they'll never come knockin'.