The Non-Ideal Consumer
Times are tough right now. Millions of people have lost their jobs and salaries may be depressed for years in some industries. Personal budgets are tight and emergency funds are being tapped into across the world. Let’s focus on some things we can actually control at the moment. I want to help you make sure you are spending on the things that are either essential, or things you truly value.
Most companies you interact with have entire teams dedicated to influencing you to spend on things you don’t need or value. PhD’s have been passing up university research jobs for higher pay at large companies trying to influence your behavior. Their goal: your hard-earned money buying their stuff.
Here are a few ways to fight back and keep your money in your pocket:
Email Marketing: Move to junk or unsubscribe from almost all email marketing. It’s so easy to do, helps to eliminate the noise, and removes unnecessary temptation. Only stay on email lists that send discounts on your essential purchases.
Social Media: Hide Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn ads. This takes some work, but it is totally worth doing a quick Google search to learn how to do. Twitter and LinkedIn let you adjust this in settings. Instagram does not. You have to hide ads as you see them pop up unfortunately. Facebook is slightly more complicated, as you can’t fully opt out, but you can change settings so that advertisers aren’t using your data to target ads specifically to you.
Gift Cards: Spend your gift cards! I keep a running list on my phone of the gift cards I have. Rather than trying to remember what gift cards are in that drawer in the kitchen, you can check your list and spend smarter.
Credit Card Benefits: Study your card benefits and write them down somewhere. A list on your phone works for this too. Try not to “chase the points.” Instead, just make sure you are using the right credit card when you decide it is time to buy something.
Store Credit Cards: Just don’t get them. Period. Most of them have worse terms than regular credit cards, and they incent you to not shop around for the best deal.
Savings Accounts: Don’t let your short term or emergency fund savings sit idle in your bank’s checking account. Most checking accounts offer less than 0.1% in interest. This is a big way that banks make money. They pool together and loan out your money, paying you a minuscule fraction of what they make on the loans. You may want to find a high interest savings account that at least has a 1% rate right now. Make sure you read the fine print and the terms to see which ones make sense for your situation.
Companies and banks make a lot of their money by knowing human behavior better than we know ourselves. They know the behavioral tendencies of humans based on data they have collected for decades. Use some of these tips to protect yourself and your money. Your future self will thank you!
By: Jeff Locke