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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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    Published on November 20, 2018

    The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

    The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

    The truth is, there are many “money saving guides” online, but most don’t cover the root issue for not saving.

    Once I’d discovered a few key factors that allowed me to save 10k in one year, I realized why most articles couldn’t help me. The problem is that even with the right strategies you can still fail to save money. You need to have the right systems in place and the right mindset.

    In this guide, I’ll cover the best ways to save money — practical yet powerful steps you can take to start saving more. It won’t be easy but with hard work, I’m confident you’ll be able to save more money–even if you’re an impulsive spender.

    Why Your Past Prevents You from Saving Money

    Are you constantly thinking about your financial mistakes?

    If so, these thoughts are holding you back from saving.

    I get it, you wish you could go back in time to avoid your financial downfalls. But dwelling over your past will only rob you from your future. Instead, reflect on your mistakes and ask yourself what lessons you can learn from them.

    It wasn’t easy for me to accept that I had accumulated thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Once I did, I started heading in the right direction. Embrace your past failures and use them as an opportunity to set new financial goals.

    For example, after accepting that you’re thousands of dollars in debt create a plan to be debt free in a year or two. This way when you’ll be at peace even when you get negative thoughts about your finances. Now you can focus more time on saving and less on your past financial mistakes.

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    How to Effortlessly Track Your Spending

    Stop manually tracking your spending.

    Leverage powerful analytic tools such as Personal Capital and these money management apps to do the work for you. This tool has worked for me and has kept me motivated to why I’m saving in the first place. Once you login to your Personal Capital dashboard, you’re able to view your net worth.

    When I’d first signed up with Personal Capital, I had a negative net worth, but this motivated me to save more. With this tool, you can also view your spending patterns, expenses, and how much money you’re saving.

    Use your net worth as your north star to saving more. Whenever you experience financial setbacks, view how far you’ve come along. Saving money is only half the battle, being consistent is the other half.

    The Truth on Why You Keep Failing

    Saving money isn’t sexy. If it was, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

    Some people are natural savers, but most are impulsive spenders. Instead of denying that you’re an impulsive spender, embrace it.

    Don’t try to save 60 to 70% of your income if this means you’ll live a miserable life. Saving money isn’t a race but a marathon. You’re saving for retirement and for large purchases.

    If you’re currently having a hard time saving, start spending more money on nice things. This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. Wouldn’t it be better to save $200 each month for 12 months instead of $500 for 3 months?

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    Most people run into trouble because they create budgets that set them up for failure. This system won’t work for those who are frugal, but chances are they don’t need help saving. This system is for those who can’t save money and need to be rewarded for their hard work.

    Only because you’re buying nice things doesn’t mean that you’ll save less. Here are some rules you should have in place:

    1. Save more than 50% of your available money (after expenses)
    2. Only buy nice things after saving
    3. Automate your savings with automatic bank transfers

    These are the same rules that helped me save thousands each year while buying the latest iPhone. Focus only on items that are important to you. Remember, you can afford anything but not everything.

    How to Foolproof Yourself out of Debt

    Personal finance is a game. On one end, you’re earning money; and on the to other, you’re saving. But what ends up counting in the end isn’t how much you earn but how much you save. Research shows that about 60% of Americans spend more than they save.[1]

    So how can you separate yourself from the 60%?

    By not accumulating more debt. This way you’ll have more money to save and avoid having more financial obligations. A great way to stop accumulating debt is using cash to pay for all your transactions.

    This will be challenging, depending on how reliant you are with your credit card, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will you stop accruing debt, but you’ll also be more conscious with what you buy.

    For example, you’ll think twice about purchasing a new $200 headphone despite having the cash to buy them. According to a poll conducted by The CreditCards.com, 5 out of 6 Americans are impulsive spenders.[2]

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    Telling yourself that you’ll have the discipline to not buy things won’t cut it. This is equal to having junk food in your fridge while trying to eat healthy–it’s only a matter of time before you slip. By using cash to make your purchases, you’ll spend less and save more.

    A Proven Formula to Skyrocket Your Savings

    Having proven systems in place to help you save more is important, but they’re not the best way to save money.

    You can search for dozens of ways to save money, but there’ll always be a limit. Instead of spending the majority of your effort saving, look for ways to increase your income. The truth is that once you have the right systems in place, saving is easy.

    What’s challenging is earning more money. There are many routes you can take to achieve this. For example, you can work long and hard at your current job to earn a raise. But there’s one problem–you’re depending on someone else to give you a raise.

    Your company will have to have the budget, and you’ll have to know how to toot your own horn to get this raise. This isn’t to say that earning a raise is impossible, but things are better when you’re in control right? That’s why building a side-hustle is the best way to increase your income.

    Think of your side-hustle as a part-time job doing something you enjoy. You can sell items on eBay for a profit, or design websites for small businesses. Building a side-hustle will be on the hardest things you’ll do, be too stubborn to quit.

    During the early stages, you won’t be making money and that’s okay. Since you already have a source of income, you won’t be dependent on your side-hustle to pay for your expenses. Depending on how much time you invest in your side-hustle, it can one day replace your current income.

    Whatever route you take, focus more on earning and save as much as possible. You have more control than you give yourself credit for.

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    Transform Yourself into a Saving Money Machine

    Saving money isn’t complicated but it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do.

    By learning from your mistakes and rewarding yourself after saving you’ll save more. What would you do with an extra $200 or $500 each month? To some, this is life-changing money that can improve the quality of their lives.

    The truth is saving money is an art. Save too much and you’ll quit, but save too little and you’ll pay for the consequences in the future. Saving money takes effort and having the right systems in place.

    Imagine if you’d started saving an extra $100 this next month? Or, saved $20K in one year? Although it’s hard to imagine, this can be your reality if you follow the principles covered in this guide.

    Take a moment to brainstorm which goals you’d be able to reach if you had extra money each month. Use these goals as motivation to help you stay on track on your journey to saving more. If I was able to save thousands of dollars with little guidance, imagine what you’ll be able to do.

    What are you waiting for? Go and start saving money, the sky is your limit.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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