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Be your own de-influencer.

Most of us can relate to seeing people online showing products they recommend, thinking they look great and loving how easy it is to just go ahead and purchase it impulsively without too much thought. But that can become a habit that isn’t good on your wallet, or your clutter.

The good news is that while people showing products online act as influencers by literally influencing purchase decisions, there’s a new kind of influencer today, the de-influencer. They aim to be more truthful about products they’ve purchased and spend time recommending (or not recommending) products based on their experience with them — not based on how much the product’s company is paying them. By following the same practices they use to educate their audience about what they actually should buy, you can be your own de-influencer.

Thinking about buying something online? Ask yourself some questions first.

Forbes cites a 2022 report by InCharge Debt Solutions found that over a third of people admit to overspending in order to “keep up with the fun” they see their peers having on social media.1 It’s so easy to buy things when they’re just a click away and you don’t have to leave your couch. But before getting caught up in the instant gratification that brings, ask yourself some questions about the item before you buy it.

  • Maybe you already have something that does what the new item does. If you don’t, do more research. Is there a cheaper version on a different site or is it available elsewhere?
  • A month from now, will you still want the item?
  • Do you actually like the item or are you just interested in it because it’s on a screen right in front of you?
  • And even more specifically, if it’s clothing, what will you wear it with? Do you have room for it in your closet?
  • Not clothing? How will it fit in your space? Where will you store it? And if you do buy it, will you still want it a month from now?

Reviews, reviews, reviews. Read them.

Reviews from actual people who purchased something are more transparent than what an influencer is being paid to say about a product. They’re also important to read no matter what. For example, have you ever bought a pair of pants online and ordered your normal size only to receive them and realize you should have sized two sizes down, wondered what happened and gone to read the product reviews, which told you clearly to order two sizes down? Don’t skip reading the reviews before buying something. They will tell you everything from whether an item of clothing runs true-to-size to if a piece of furniture is actually worth buying. Another way to make sure you want to purchase the item you're considering is to go to a store and look at it. Sure, it’s an extra step, but it could save you the time and hassle of returning something you end up not wanting.

Follow de-influencing culture on social media.

If you want to learn even more about de-influencers, look up the hashtag on TikTok. There are many creators posting “anti-hauls” of products they either won’t buy or will not buy again. Not only will this help you stick to your budget for purchasing, it may actually give you an ethical reason behind cutting out impulse spending. For example, think twice before buying clothes based on an influencer’s suggestion. A 2020 study by the Princeton Student Climate Initiative found that the fashion industry uses one-tenth of all water used to run factories and clean products. The same study also found that 57% of all discarded clothing ends up in landfills. Assumably, some of those discarded clothes are tied to poorly planned, influenced purchase decisions.2

Be a critical consumer.

As your own de-influencer, it’s crucial to be a critical consumer of the media you consume. Recognize that influencers often promote products and lifestyles that may not align with your values or best interests. Question the motives behind advertisements and sponsored content. Then, focus on your own needs rather than succumbing to the pressure of trends or societal expectations. It is then that you will be able to make informed purchase decisions based on what truly brings you happiness and fulfillment.

Practice digital detox.

Constant exposure to social media can be detrimental to your mental well-being (and spending habits). Taking regular breaks from digital platforms can help with this. Instead of scrolling and screen-time, practice doing activities that bring you joy and fulfillment like spending time with friends and family, reading a physical book or spending time outdoors.

Use mindfulness to stay focused.

In a world dominated by social media and influencers it’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of materialism and comparison. And the constant exposure to carefully curated online personas can make it difficult to figure out what you actually want, or need, to buy. But by practicing de-influencer strategies and being mindful about what you actually want to purchase, you can begin to make smarter choices about buying things that will truly fit into your life.

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