There are few sources of information these days that do not come riddled with advertising, or at least with a list of generous corporate sponsors. To escape the constant bombardment of “buy this” “recognize my name” and “we’re so cool” I decided to take some drastic steps. As a result, I have noticed an improvement in my general consumer satisfaction.
No matter how little you see advertising, you are affected. Periodic changes in your habits can call attention to your weaknesses. If you know where you are weak, you can strengthen your personal frugality skills and make better, more informed decisions. To understand your spending habits, you have to understand why you spend, and rating your responses to advertising is a good indicator for those reasons.
My experiment looked something like this:
- I turned off my satellite TV service and instead I buy my television shows on DVD, sans commercials.
- I subscribed via RSS feed to my local television news and newspapers. I get the articles, or the gist of them, without all the advertising of reading them on the sites’ pages or getting the news via traditional methods — broadcast and print.
- I ended my magazine subscriptions.
- I stopped websurfing.
- I turned off the radio.
- I didn’t decide to stay home, so I still get the bombardment of billboards, light displays, and letter boards on my way to work or school.
- I didn’t stop my mail and I get plenty of junk mail, coupons, and other ads in the mail box.
The results have been:
- I miss movie releases. I don’t want to go to movies in the theater to see movies that I can borrow or buy on video later.
- I don’t feel the need to upgrade. Not only do I only research something to buy when I find the need for it, I find no fault, nothing outdated, about the things I own.
- I really don’t feel behind the times. You’d think that without my consciousness being smothered with the latest fashion trends that I’d feel ignorant of what’s new and happenin’. Quite the contrary, the news feeds I’ve found cover quite adequately the things in general society that I deem important.
- I don’t know about sales. This is great because, again, I’m happy with the things I have and can employ my normal frugal shopping techniques for anything I may need.
- I don’t know how much the economy is taking advantage of me. You know, my insurance company isn’t over charging, my life insurance coverage is sufficient for economic changes, I’m not reminded to be worried about social security, and my interest rates are fine.
- Politics don’t anger me. I follow through the news, I read the speeches, and I participate in debates in online forums to learn from others. I miss the poorly-edited clips that make people look bad, the wicked attack ads, and the doomsday voice telling me who is clearly the better choice. In fact, this year I feel most informed of any election year.
- I don’t end up on random websites. No slogans with website addresses stick in my head, no errant clicks take me to glaring ads, and no pop-ups. I stay with my news feed page, my forum, and the places I write.
I have found myself restless when visiting friends and commercials pop up between show clips, and therefore, my tendency to ignore ads is greater. I always prided myself in my general knowledge about the methods and effects of advertising, but just making a habit of ignoring them has reduced their overall effect on me. It’s humbling to know that even the most careful parts of me are susceptible to a clever commercial, and my new practices have helped reduce even further the eager consumer of my psyche. I have found some simple changes to reduce ad-intake. Through these, I found fitting habits, advertising strategies that make me vulnerable, and new ways to make finances more comfortable.