We all know that companies announce their products through advertisements to profit from the public. These products are not restricted to innovative gadgets or household merchandise. A lifestyle in the form of luxury cars or apartment, food, and services are also featured in advertisements that invade our daily lives.
How can we not be lured by these advertisements? Those magic jeans might make us look slimmer than we are. The leopard print blanket looks so chic and warm in winter. The latest shampoo on the market is a must-have, for it guarantees not only smooth silky hair but also magically straightened instead of frizzy locks.
The products and services claim to provide instant glamour, overnight success and immediate happiness to our dreary lives. In reality, advertisements manipulate our minds by affecting our choices and spending habits.
If you succumb to advertisements easily, here are 7 steps to counteract their manipulative effects:
1. Keep your brain active
When you next see an advertisement, think about the message advertisements deliver.
- The succulent fried chicken from the fast food chain may be finger licking good, but is it healthy?
- The credit card company may offer low annual fees, but do you really need another card to worsen your already escalating debt?
Playing devil’s advocate by considering the negative aspects of the advertised products helps you to restrain from unnecessary spending. After all, you are aware that all advertisements use positive descriptions of their products and services to set their merchandise apart, aren’t you?
2. Make a conscious effort to avoid advertisements
Advertisements are aired at regular intervals during program intermissions as well as in daily morning shows. We just can’t seem to get away from them, from the moment we turn the television on. Skipping TV advertisements using the remote control is a sure way to avoid them. In addition, having an ‘advertisement blocker’ installed for online browsing is an effective way of avoiding unwanted advertisements.
3. Perform a self-evaluation
If you find yourself drawn to a newly launched product in the market, always ask yourself if you truly need it. Finding a substitute for it, and doing comparative shopping as you reflect on your needs and wants, are useful ways of checking your spending habits.
Buying a product for a genuine reason such as removing a birth mark or promoting hair growth is valid compared to purchasing something to keep up with your neighbours or with a deliberate intention to display it to friends for social approval. The next time you have a desire to purchase anything that does not fall under your category of need, such as a sequined purse or a to-die-for Vera Wang cocktail dress, give yourself at least a day to think about it.
4. Exercise gratitude
Look in your home to see the things you own. Do you have the basics such as a television, a refrigerator, a washing machine, a wardrobe of clothes, food in the pantry, and a functional mobile phone? Is there a need to buy another shirt, a better microwave oven or the latest mobile phone model? Think of how lucky you are to possess things that are considered luxury items for many people in the planet.
5. Be aware of sale gimmicks
We buy things we don’t need because we are taken in by sales gimmicks. Promotions like ‘buy one get one free’, offers of a free gift or voucher for spending at least $50, and huge discounts on goods sold storewide are just some examples of gimmicks used by merchants to lure customers into spending more and keeping the cash registers ringing. Being aware of the psychological intent of such gimmicks will help you to reflect and restrain yourself from shopping for things you don’t need.
6. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
Instead of acquiring brand new products, spare a thought for the environment and de-clutter your home by recycling packaging such as plastic bags, cardboard boxes and plastic bottles and swapping your unwanted clothes, magazines, books and DVDs with your friends. In addition, you could also consider upholstering your faded sofa and bleaching your discoloured curtains instead of purchasing new ones.
7. Reflect on long-term goals
We sometimes cannot deny ourselves a little shopping when we are feeling low. In fact, acquiring something new for ourselves will counteract our current emotions, making us feel happier. However, buying something we don’t really need on impulse only gives us temporary happiness. Once the novelty of the item wears off, our unhappiness, frustration and boredom will attack us as we revert back to meeting the demands of work, home and society.
Partake in activities that don’t require you to spend, such as exercise, reading, and going for walks for a respite from stress and unhappy thoughts. If you happen to have the strong urge to shop, ask yourself if the item gives you long term satisfaction, happiness and security.
While we cannot avoid the lure of consumerism completely, embracing the above strategies will help in cutting back on unnecessary shopping. After all, we live in a modern, consumerist society that relies on consumer spending to boost up the economy of our country. Exercising effective steps in curbing our urge to spend unwisely will result in long-term benefits such as an accumulation of emergency and retirement funds and increasing bank reserves.
Category: Frugal Living