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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 January 2, 2019

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

    Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

    Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

    This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

    Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

    What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

    Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

    When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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    How It Leads to Financial Improvement

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

    Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

    Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

    It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

    Types of Personal Finance Software

    When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

    Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

    For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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    Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

    When to Use Personal Finance Software

    So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

    Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

    1. You Have Multiple Accounts

    There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

    If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

    Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

    2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

    Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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    There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

    With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

    3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

    Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

    Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

    Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

    4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

    Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

    You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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    How to Get Started

    From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

    Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

    It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

    When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

    Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

    Final Thoughts

    Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

    In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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