I have been inspired by the “de-influencing” trend on TikTok to chat specifically about the evolution of consumer culture and what we can do to navigate it and not let it consume us. This is neither a list of overrated products, nor is it a call to just consume less, but rather an examination of how trends influence our need for “stuff,” and shopping tips from within the industry designed to encourage mindful spending. Similar articles to consider include this one on finance for shopaholics!
A little background on me: when I first jumped into the influencer and retail industries, I convinced myself I had to maintain a specific lifestyle I saw online. Similar to the Stanley Cup and Drunk Elephant girlies of today, in 2018 I HAD to have Tatcha face cream, Free People waffle sweaters in every color, eyelash extensions, etc. and I was willing to go into debt for that lifestyle because I thought I needed that “stuff” to create content. It took me years to get out of that debt and a lot of learning to figure out what I truly valued materialistically and financially. I still consume a lot today and still consider myself a shopaholic, but I feel like now I have a better understanding of my own financial values regarding “stuff” and that has given me considerable peace in a consuming world.
If there is one thing I could influence you on forever, it is confidence. So below I have started this mini series with tips to build your shopping confidence! From knowing what’s worth it or not to finding better deals in a way that works for YOU and what you value.
Think Deeply About What Is Important To You
This seems like a given, but define what luxuries are negotiable and non-negotiable for you. For example, I do not value traveling for vacation. Hot take, but growing up I lived overseas and traveled to work or study and those experiences were so wonderful and amazing that it devalued “vacation” for me. I find there can be a lot of pressure in spending a large sum on travel, lodging, and activities for a specific time window. So, staycations or traveling to visit family sounds more appealing to me as I save in this category. Another category where I am comfortable spending more is in everyday luxuries like coffee or fresh flowers. These bills add up and sometimes I will make coffee at home or skip the bouquet, but this is one luxury that I value so I enjoy it when I can. Examine your favorite things, and simply creating a hierarchy of eating out, coffee, manicures, vacations, clothes, etc. can help you visualize how you want your budget to be divided and make financial planning less stressful.
What Feeling Are You Searching For
This is a big lesson I have learned since following the “de-influencing” trend on social media. I realized that plenty of my purchases were fueled by the desire or promise that I would FEEL complete, happy, organized, whatever just like how someone else seems to feel in the highlight reel of their feed. If I see a product I like, I save the information and see how long I can go before pulling the trigger – is the desire still there? But more importantly, is this something I need, is it something I just want (which is still a valid reason to buy something), or do I just think I will feel cool like that person? For me, I stopped viewing purchases as a way to model my life and emotions around someone else, and instead a way to add value to my life and what I already have. For example, last month I really wanted a Stanley cup because they look cool and aesthetic and I liked the features, but I remembered I already have a water bottle with a lot of the same features, just not the same brand and I realized the only value a Stanley cup would bring me is looking like other people. Ultimately, I decided the purchase just wasn’t important or valuable to me and what I already have, so examining the feeling that we attribute to product can help open our eyes to the bigger picture. Not only did I not need it, but I didn’t want it that badly either.
Learn To Budget Realistically
Strict budgets are no fun. If you are in a season of re-evaluating your finances, I highly recommend modeling your budget close to your current spending habits. Maybe have a realistic and an ideal budget for yourself to help you reach your spending goals in a way that makes sense for you. Another tactic that has worked for me is having budget ranges for certain categories. Maybe on your current budget you cannot exceed X dollars on restaurant food, but creating a budget of Y-X could motivate you to save a little more in that category without the pressure of meeting every goal every time.
Save Money By Understanding Marketing Strategy
I feel like this could be its own article itself, but there are so many specific ways to save money just by understanding how the retail industry works and what products are truly worth it. This topic also touches on “the feeling” again but just like with social media, marketing is about convincing you that you will feel however way if you just had x, y, AND z.
I have spoken about this in previous articles on major sales and seasonal shopping, and I feel like this statement below from years ago still fits how I feel about this:
“If I am speaking frankly I feel like people truly do not realize how much they are influenced. Being influenced is ok, but it is certainly difficult to know what you truly want or need when very specific products are all over your screens.”
Beyond this initial retail insight that products are strategically marketed to you, there is plenty of strategy to learn how to bypass the madness: from actually getting good deals to developing your taste and seeing consumerism without designer shades. Our next blog post, similar to the one linked above, will expand on specific retail industry tips on markup prices, sale trends, and manufacturing – so stay tuned and thank you for reading!