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Your Best Weapons Against Buying Crap You Don’t Need

Your Best Weapons Against Buying Crap You Don’t Need


    I’ll admit it, but will you?

    I get impulsive about buying that “thing”.

    That new awesome thing that’s ten times better than the last awesome thing. You know, the crap I’ll regret buying the day after the return policy is up.

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    Why is that?

    And why do we feel this way so often?

    They don’t want you to know…but I do.

    They are the advertisers.

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    The slick, ever-present advertisers planting messages in your mind that you want need what they’re selling.

    I’m not against honest advertising that’s up front about its goals, reason for placement, and biases. But it seems like these don’t exist anymore.

    It was more than enough when ads were just in commercials, magazines, and random web pages. But then they penetrated screen time before movies started.

    And now they’re on gas pump handles, airplane tray tables, inside restrooms at bowling alleys, and floors at supermarkets.

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    Bad news for them though. You have weapons that they can’t defend against. Here’s how you use them.

    Beginner Tools for Ad-Free Living

    You can’t avoid all 5,000+ ads you’re exposed to every day. And I can’t stop drug companies from spending over $60 billion on ads every year.

    But we can use these simple tools to significantly reduce the number and impact.

    1. Shut the sources off. You’re always one mute button, flip of the radio dial, or Readability app away from avoiding an ad. Do it for the benefits of silence if preventing their pocketbook infiltration isn’t enough. A few moments avoiding an ad is worth preventing their ability to make us spend money on things we don’t need (or want).
    2. Ads Complicate. Confucius said, “Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Ads are a big part of making life more complicated. And who wants more unexplained, uncontrolled complication? Appreciate the bounty of what you already own, eat, or drive instead of what you may be missing out on. When you’re tempted by a slick ad, just tell your brain, “Hey, brain. My life is plenty rich as is. You don’t need that.”
    3. Technology giveth ads…and taketh away. Technology will always come up with new ways to create and spread ads. Fortunately, technology also comes up with new ways to stop them. Use Adblock Plus for an annoyance-free online experience. And use PaperKarma to snap a picture of junk mail with your phone…and then never see mail from that vendor again.

    Once you’ve mastered beginner mode you’ll probably want to level up to expert mode. Here are some awesome mind tricks and Jedi level tools to break an advertiser’s strangle hold on our spending habits.

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    Expert Ad-Crushing Tools

    Give these a whirl and experience some major ad-fighting super powers.

    1. Political Ads Have More Truth Than Corporate Ads. For every time a politician or their support groups lie in an ad, there are a hundred corporations telling even bigger lies. The deception of cigarette companies, drug companies, and weight loss companies is just the start. If you don’t trust political ads then there’s no reason to trust ads from corporations. Anyone who says differently is probably trying to pull a Jedi mind trick on you.
    2. Define Why You Buy. People buy because it brings them more happiness, love, and freedom or less pain, stress, and worry. Describe what desired outcome will be achieved when you feel the urge to buy. If you can’t explain it, odds are the advertisers got to you again. Don’t feel bad. They do it to everyone. But take this as a sign there’s an external force influencing you without your best interests in mind.
    3. You’re Not a “Consumer.” You exist to do much more than consume. Stop thinking of yourself as a “consumer” and don’t worry about doing your part to “stimulate the economy.” The labels we apply to ourselves define who we are and why we do what we do. Ditch the consumer label and with it, ditch having someone else mold you into a person you’d rather not be.
    4. Cultivate Selective Ignorance. Man, it sure is sweet to have the newest and coolest thing out there, right? But at what cost? Your urge to buy the latest, shiniest thing decreases in correlation with your awareness that there’s something better out there. Reducing time spent learning about the latest fashion craze and technology gadget (and the ad campaigns alongside them) does wonders for controlling your appetite for more. Ignorance really is bliss to fight purchases you don’t need.
    5. Instant Information. When you realize you need widget X for project Y, you’re only one Google search, text, phone call, or social media question away from finding the best solution. Yes, you already have all the tools to find out who sells it and how you can get it. Remind me again why ads need to exist these days?

    Your Action Plan

    Even when advertising isn’t “helping” us buy things we don’t need, it has a dubious impact on our worldview and our values. And this doesn’t even account for the shudder-inducing effects of ads on children. It takes a little work to mobilize against its impact but it can be done.

    So use one or more of these tools today and start enjoying a life free of unwanted influences. You’ll be happier and have a healthier relationship with money when you do.

    Which of these tools are you going to use today? And are there ones you use as a secret weapon against advertising’s impacts? Please share a comment below, even if it’s just a short blurb.

    (Photo credit: Shopping Cart on Screen via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

    The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

    Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

    Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

    Identifying All of Your Debts

    The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

    Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

    1. Own Your Debt

    Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

    Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

    2. Make a Debt Tracker

    It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

    Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

    3. Get Your Debt Number

    Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

    Prioritizing Your Debts

    All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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    1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

    Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

    There are three main types of bad debt:

    • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
    • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
    • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

    Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

    • Student Loan Debt
    • Mortgage Loan
    • Business Loans

    2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

    Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

    Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

    If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

    3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

    Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

    Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

    Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

    1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

    “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

    It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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    Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

    Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

    2. Hide Your Credit Cards

    If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

    Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

    3. Automate Everything

    Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

    4. Plan Ahead

    Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

    For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

    5. Live Cheaply

    The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

    • Live with roommates
    • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
    • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
    • Take public transit or bike to work

    Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

    The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

    If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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    1. Maintain a High Credit Score

    Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

    • Never miss a payment
    • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
    • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
    • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
    • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

    2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

    Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

    Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

    If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

    How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

    Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

    1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

    Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

    Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

    2. Earn More Money

    There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

    Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

    Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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    Talk to Your Boss

    Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

    Start a Side Hustle

    This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

    Build an Online Business

    There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

    3. Celebrate Your Wins

    As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

    While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

    4. Set New Financial Goals

    Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

    Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

    These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

    Conclusion

    Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

    Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

    More Tips on Getting out of Debt

    Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

    Reference

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