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Who’s Really Controlling The Money You Spend?

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African man and woman sitting at kitchen table with papers and laptop pc, managing domestic finances

Do you ever wonder why your money seems to disappear as quickly as you earn it? Is it because of your overzealous spending habits? Or is there possibly another more insidious reason why you have trouble holding on to your cash?

Think about it for a moment, what exactly prompted you to buy the specific car that you drive, or the home that you live in, or the type of shoes that you wear?

I mean, what really drives any of us to make the specific spending choices that we make?

Your first thought may be because it’s your money and you buy what you want, right? But have you ever wondered why you develop an overwhelming desire to trade in your current car for a newer model, even though it’s running fine?

Or, why you can’t resist spending $1,000 on a smartphone every two years, even when you don’t have $1,000 in an emergency fund? Sure, we all like to believe that we are completely in charge of our own minds, our own money, and our own spending choices. But, the truth is that you may not be as in control of your spending as you think.

The Bait

Did you know that there are carefully crafted influences working hard to turn us all into mindless spending drones every single day? 

Now, you’ve probably already guessed that the masterminds behind these deliberate messages are advertisers and marketers, of course. They dangle a shiny new carrot of gadgets, electronics, or luxury items in front of us endlessly to keep us salivating and wanting more. 

And more times than not, we get lured in by the bait. But that’s when the problems arise. Because we typically end up spending money that we don’t really have to buy something that we don’t really need. 

Yet, the tactics are so creatively deceptive that later when we realize that we don’t have enough cash to make it to the next payday, we think it’s our own fault.

As if we actually have control over what we buy. But don’t be fooled! Marketers and advertisers have done their homework. And they have mastered the skill of influencing our money decisions.

The Hook

I hate to break it to you, but advertisers and marketers are always on a mission to separate you from your cash. But, not in a forceful gun pointed, gimme all your cash sort of way. 

Instead, their modus operandi (M.O.) is to attack you from the inside and play on the area where you’re most vulnerable. Your emotions. 

And they’ve gotten so good at manipulating our emotions that we simply hand them over our money freely and willingly. And at the time, we’re actually happy about it because now we’ve got some new thing to show off.

However, what they’ve actually done is hooked us into creating a new bill or expense for ourselves to add to the ones that we already have. Then, by the end of the month, you’re left wondering where did all of your money go. 

And here’s the interesting part, advertisers and marketers don’t even try to hide what they’re doing.

In fact, even from the time that you were a kid, they’ve been programming you every day to want, want, want, and to spend, spend, spend. The truth is that we unwittingly allow advertisers, marketers, and businesses to tell us what to buy when to buy, and how much to pay.

They do that by constantly bombarding us everywhere we look with a sale on this and a discount on that. And have you ever noticed how there is some type of holiday to celebrate every single month?

It’s gotten to the point that they make us feel like we need to hurry and buy something, or we’ll miss out on the deal. Or, they prey on our family connections and make us feel obligated to buy in order to celebrate some type of occasion.  

Money

The Catch

Now it is true that we’ve all become more adept at ignoring a lot of the advertising noise. But sooner or later, something’s going to catch your attention. It’ll be Mother’s Day, an anniversary, or a birthday and the advertisements will hit just the right trigger that will compel you to spend money.

I mean, just think back to all the ads you’ve already seen today. For instance, the fast-food commercial where they zoom in on a juicy burger. Next to that is a pack of perfectly crispy and golden french fries.

And, hey, don’t forget about the refreshing ice-cold drink to wash it all down. So, are you hungry yet?

Or what about those ads that use super hot models flexing their muscles or flaunting their curves as they spray on some high-dollar fragrance. I mean, you practically smell the sexiness, right?

Not only that, but the advertisement is planting the seed that if you were to buy that fragrance, then you can be just as sexy also. As if, right!

The point is that advertisements are meant to be sexy, fun, and engaging. And advertisers know how to tap into your weaknesses and desires so that you can relate to the product and feel like you must have it.

But, remember, there’s always a catch. Their goal is not solely to entertain you. Their goal is actually to mentally manipulate you.

They send you subliminal signals with the hopes that they can relieve you of as much of your hard-earned cash as possible. And in the process, they get rich, and you end up broke. 

The good news is that you can free yourself from these sneaky mind control tricks. 

The Escape

To prevent falling victim to advertisers who try to capitalize on your emotions, try these things first: 

  • Think before you buy
    • Figure out what is motivating you to spend. Meaning, is this product a necessity in your life right now, or is there some other reason driving you? 
    • Ask yourself, do you actually have the funds available to pay for it in full without breaking your budget?

Now, if you answered “yes” to both, then hey…go for it! BUT, if either answer is “no,” then it needs to be a hard pass for now.

  • Assess if your desire is externally created. In other words, are you motivated by a cool commercial or because your favorite celebrity has endorsed it?
    • If so, then keep in mind that your desire to spend has been superficially triggered and that feeling will fade if given a little time
  • Allow yourself a 24 hour grace period 
    • This gives you the chance to really process the idea of buying something new
    • You’ll have the opportunity to reconsider whether spending the money will have any negative impact on your finances
    • This also gives you time to reevaluate and realize that you probably don’t even need that product after all

Those are a few simple ways you can attempt to gain more control over your own mind and money

However, if you know that you are easily tempted, then make sure to mute, fast forward, or ignore ads as much as you possibly can. And never allow your FOMO (fear of missing out) to negatively affect your cash flow.

The Bottom Line

There’s a reason why we feel compelled to buy the things we buy. Yet, we don’t always realize just how much influence external forces like advertisements actually control our spending. 

So the next time you find yourself wondering why your money keeps disappearing and you can’t even make it from one payday to the next. 

You need to think, assess, and allow yourself the time to ensure that YOU are actually the one who is in control of your spending.

Now the decision is up to you.

DeShena Woodard is a Financial Freedom Coach and Certified Life Coach. She is also the founder of the website Extravagantly Broke. After struggling with debt for years, DeShena paid off $52,000 in just over 2.5 years and is now 100% debt-free. Her story has been featured in NerdWallet and Debt.com. Now she helps 5 & 6 figure earners to stop living paycheck to paycheck, get better with money, and achieve their own financial freedom.