Advertising affects us more than we think it does. They are masters of manipulation. I’m sure you’ve watched a TV commercial for a certain candy bar and 30 minutes later you start thinking you’d like a candy bar. Advertisers want you to feel like you are not enough. You aren’t good looking enough so you need their cream or body wash. You aren’t sophisticated enough so you need their watch. You aren’t sexy enough so you need their car. How can we protect ourselves from these messages?

Watch less TV. Even the TV programs have Ellen drinking Vitamin Water and Warehouse 13 Myka eating Twizzlers. The major point of TV is to get you to buy something. And seeing other’s fantasy lives doesn’t help you feel better. A study from the University of Maryland found that unhappy people watch 20% more TV than happy people. This was after analyzing 34 years of data from more than 45,000 people.  Happy people spent more time socializing, reading, doing religious activities and being politically active.

Be aware when reading magazines. Everything in the magazines are airbrushed. They are creating a beautiful world that is not true. Go to sites that show celebrities without makeup. Remember that the beautiful room you see, took 20 people to get looking right and no one actually lives there. That gorgeous Martha Steward meal was prepared by actual cooks. Keep saying to yourself, “It’s not real.” Better yet, quit reading them.

Advertisers like to make you laugh. They know when you laugh, you feel good. And when you feel good while watching their ad, then you associate feeling good with their product.

We all like to save money. Watch advertisers trying to get you to buy because you are “saving money.” Maybe it’s a 2 for 1 sale, 40% off, a hefty rebate. Unless you were going to buy anyway, you aren’t saving money. You are spending money.

New is not always better. In fact it may not be new, just re-packaged. The older appliances used to last longer. Most of the older products were made better. So do your research before deciding if this new product is better. Same with upgrading to the newest technology. If the technology is working for you, why don’t you hold off on upgrading?

Beware of trends. As adults, we still follow trends. Maybe it’s the Blackberry or iPhone, leopard print or ugly 70’s graphic prints. The problem with trends, is they go away. And you still have the stuff. If you must buy a trend, get a cheap version you won’t mind giving away later. Never buy full price and an expensive line for a trend.

Examine competiveness. When you want something only to show you are better, smarter, more moral or richer than someone else you aren’t going to be happy with your purchase. Look for thoughts like, “Wait till Dave sees this,” or “I think this is better than Gary’s new car,” or “Won’t Gloria be so jealous?”

Be aware to keep money in your wallet.

This is a guest post from Andrew Wang.  Some of his blogs include Personal FinanceInternational Travel Medical InsuranceReward Credit Card, and Selling Time Share.


Personal finance author and trainer

    6 replies to "Protecting yourself from Advertising"

    • TCKhew

      Nowadays, besides protecting ourselves from TV or radio advertisements, we also need to control ourselves of not over-spending after listening to the ‘advertisement’ by human being – network marketers. No doubt, there are lots of good products available at the networking companies, but sometimes we may be ‘blind’ in comparing the products with other companies. For example, we have joined as a member of ‘A’ company, then we may tend to buy whatever things available in ‘A’ company. If we need dish washer, we will go to ‘A’ company, if we want to buy mooncakes, we look for ‘A’ company again. This scenario happens when the members want to collect sufficient points for further discount. It indirectly makes us buying things without much comparison and keeps thinking that the same company will offer the best quality products of all types. I think this is an unhealthy practice.

    • Rhia

      Advertising is not a bad thing if it is not unobtrusive – many individuals find what they are looking for through ads – heck, i have many a time. Advertisers need to ensure that they select the right medium and choose appropriate targeting methods to reach out to the audience that wants to buy their products.

    • Ian Kree

      Ads are designed to create the urges (or reminder) to buy products & services. We, on the other hand, need to (re-)design our financial mindset to filter those urges. From my own experience, it is inadequate to design our own, personal financial mindset for this purpose – we have to design the whole immediate family members’ financial mindsets. Your spouse and children might be influenced by these ads (in TV, magazine, social networks, etc) – as you can’t control what ads they see. When they get emotional on what they want to buy, it is hard to resist sometimes (or already too late) – this affect family’s financial.

      Thank you for sharing this, KC – good reminder & tips.

    • Sayeed

      Burke Hedges, Read and Grow Rich shows the trend of actually how media have controlled our minds…”what we see and read makes us”
      I strongly believe it since 2006 that changed my lifestyle.
      Thanks for bringing this reminder up again KC…

    • fariezul

      wow. that is very true and a good advice.

      Im a silent reader, your post this time make me to comment.

      one of my tactic is to say to myself : “I dont need this”, after reading/seeing the ads..

    • soo

      But when I spoke to an Entrepreneur, he say to me go and get all the things by making sure that you work hard and smart to afford it. Bottom line it’s ok if the inflows is more than the outflows

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