3 min read

To Save Money, Don't Be Frugal -- Remove Ads

Being frugal is overrated. You can save more money with less effort with one simple change: reduce your exposure to ads.

Have you ever tracked your spending on impulse purchases? How about the cost of upgrading to the newest phone, or car? It's probably way more than you'll save clipping coupons [1].

Blank Billboard
"pfft, ads don't affect me!"

I doubt it.

Advertisers are great at what they do. Humans make predictably irrational choices, and it is literally people's jobs to exploit that. Advertisers spent $578 Billion dollars last year on ads, probably because it returned them much more money. Even if advertisers were dumb as rocks, ads are everywhere. What's a great way to teach someone a new idea? Repetition.

'Getting tough' and increasing your will-power is not a good strategy for fighting ads. Decision fatigue is a real phenomenon. You only have so many decisions to make in a day. Every time you resist and say 'no' to an ad, you're more likely to cave to the next ad.

Which leads me to another interesting side-effect of reducing ads, with fewer decisions to make throughout the day, you'll find yourself making better decisions in other areas of your life, like your work or your health. With fewer ads vying for your attention, you'll be able to focus more.

Get rid of ads. It's awesome [2].

Easy wins

Fortunately you can get rid of most ads with little effort.

Adblock Plus Logo

Install an Adblocker on your computers, tablets, and smartphones. Online ads slow your computer down, can be intrusive, and clicking on the wrong one will get you a virus!

Get rid of cable

If you're looking to save money, this is a no-brainer anyway. Cable is expensive, and cheaper replacements exist. Plus, almost 25% of cable programming is Ads! Even the shows you watch have tons of ads and product placements. Get that influence out of your life.

Stop reading magazines filled with ads

Most magazines have a 50/50 ad to content ratio! After you pay for it!

Pay for services to remove ads

Spotify has a paid service which removes ads. Kindles without ads are $20 more, but if that prevents you from impulse buying just two books, you've made the difference and reduced your ad exposure that much more.

###Subtle Advertising Nowadays, advertisers use more subtle tactics to get you to buy. Avoiding these is quite a bit harder. The only reliable way to reduce exposure to these is to reduce how often you visit.

'Organic' advertising

Social media is full of these. These ads don't look like ads at first glance, but on closer inspection, the poster is promoting a product. You can unfollow accounts that do this, or don't if the poster has content that is worth supporting.

Affiliate ads

If you read a lot of blogs, you might've run into affiliate ads. There's an affilate ad on this page!  Think twice next time you read a glowing product review followed by a convenient link to buy -- the author might not be as impartial as you thought.

Internet communities

Internet communities based on hobbies are wonderful. Small groups of dedicated people around the world get together to discuss woodworking or fashion or geocaching or mechanicalheadpens. While interacting with like-minded people is great, beware of the desire to buy new things. Whether driven by actual marketers or not, these communities proudly show off their new purchases and quickly re-anchor your 'reasonable' price point to something much higher.

Headphone forum Head-Fi greets it's new members with, "Welcome to Head-Fi, sorry about your wallet." Browse with caution.

Remove ads and watch your bank account grow

  • You'll make fewer impulse buys
  • You'll have a reduced desire for newest iphone or laptop or gadget
  • You'll have more space to think without ads bombarding you all the time

You'll never be able to get rid of all ads, but reducing your exposure will allow you to resist them that much easier. It's an effective systemic change to your life. Give it a try.

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[1]:  Of course being frugal is more than coupon clipping. but often frugalists (frugalites?) make two big errors:

  1. spend ridiculous amounts of time to save tiny amounts
  2. buy a cheap item when the slightly more expensive one will last 3x as long

[2]: I don't think all ads are bad, I don't think marketers are evil, I just think viewing too many ads is detrimental. This might be the topic of another post.