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Beware of Advertisements

My mom taught me something that has stuck with me my whole life. (Well, my mom taught me a million things that have stuck with me my whole life. So that’s a pretty vague opening statement.) I’ll try again.

My mom taught me to be distrustful of ads, and in doing so she gave me the greatest money saving wisdom I could ever imagine.

She used to say, when advertisements came on or were displayed in a magazine, “Look at how they’re trying to sell this to you. Notice how they use words that are implying something, but not guaranteeing anything“. And man was she right. Marketing is huge business.

First of all, if you are unfamiliar with what marketing is, check out the Wikipedia definition. Really focus on that whole “herd behavior” paragraph. Go ahead and be insulted. And reprimanded. Here’s an excerpt from that wiki page if you don’t wanna get that in depth:

“Herd behavior in marketing is used to explain the dependencies of customers’ mutual behavior. The Economist reported a recent conference in Rome on the subject of the simulation of adaptive human behavior.[19] It shared mechanisms to increase impulse buying and get people “to buy more by playing on the herd instinct.” The basic idea is that people will buy more products that are seen to be popular. Several feedback mechanisms to get product popularity information to consumers are mentioned, including smart card technology and the use of Radio Frequency Identification Tag technology. A “swarm-moves” model was introduced by a Florida Institute of Technology researcher, which is appealing to supermarkets because it can “increase sales without the need to give people discounts.”

You are not part of a ‘herd’. Unless you are.

YOU decide what you will spend your money on

Do not buy things because they are popular. Do not buy things because the herd is buying them. Or because they promise an easier life, or a more attractive face. Do not buy things you haven’t researched and thought about. Do not let yourself be controlled by advertisements. (I feel weird writing this because I know that marketing is technically part of a successful blog. But, I also want this message on my blog, so I’m just gonna go ahead and write it. Screw all the marketing.)

Buy things because they fulfill a need or because (IF you have extra money) it’s what you wantSure, I think it’s ok if you have budgeted 20 bucks to “fun money” and you want a bottle of wine; buy a bottle of wine. But make sure you’re not just buying it to follow the leader.

Every single time you see an ad or have an impulse to buy a certain something, be sure to examine what the drive is behind that impulse. Is someone else telling you how to spend your money? There is absolutely no question that marketing and advertisements sway us – subconsciously – to spend our money.

What’s really necessary?

You gotta decide that. It’ll change based on your situation.

My husband can’t eat grains, and ridiculously expensive flour alternatives (like ground almonds) are necessary to me because I don’t think saving some money is worth his having a stomach ache all the time. I believe natural supplements for my anxiety are necessary because the anxiety is really crappy, and anything that helps it is worth it. On the flip side, pre-ground almonds are not necessary because I can totally grind them myself.

My boss is the most relaxed dude I have ever met. He still expects me to show up dressed like I’m at work (meaning I can’t wear jeans unless it’s Friday), so pants that are not jeans are necessary for me (even thought I would NEVER wear them outside the office). But $80.00 pants aren’t. I got one pair from a thrift store for 5 bucks, and one pair from the Victoria Secret outlet store in Orlando or 10 dollars. I really really want a third pair because I get so sick of wearing those two, but I don’t need a third pair. When I find another pair in my budget, I’ll buy them.

YOU decide where your money goes. Question every purchase. Do not be told how to spend your money. You are not part of a ‘herd’.

is someone else telling you how to spend your money?