Spending & Saving

Beware of Advertisers!

There will be many obstacles on your financial journey; perhaps the most prevalent of these is the general consumer market. The cool new phone, the swaggy pair of shoes, that fancy watch – all of these can get you off track to your financial goals. It is necessary to stay alert in the face of these advertisements.


Salespeople are individuals who sell goods and services to other individuals or entities. Their success is measured by the total monetary value of the sales they are able to make. This is why salespeople are always convincing you to buy something by any means necessary.

There are two main types of salespeople. The first type are the professionals, who focus on building a good relationship with buyers to earn their trust. The second type are the closers, who are always trying to close a deal, or finalize a sale. They are very stubborn and won’t take ‘no’ for an answer!

Salespeople aren’t the only ones selling you things. Most companies have online or TV advertisements that will try to convince you to buy their products. The main technique they use is emotional appeal, or messages that cater to the need for something new, being accepted, security, etc. and the fear of accidents, getting sick, etc.

Some other techniques include: free samples; telling you to "join countless others who use this product"; using ‘facts’ and ‘statistics’; providing attractive but incomplete details ("shampoo that reduces hairfall", but by how much? Note it doesn’t say, "stops hairfall"); celebrity appearances; patriotism; bribes (‘great’ offers).

Salespeople and ads use all these techniques to get you to buy their product. How can you resist their pressure? Make sure that you never make a decision on the spot (impulse buying), and that you always check the ‘facts’ and claims these salespeople are making.

Advertising Claims

Advertisements almost always have some big claims. They do this to sell more of their product. Which would you rather buy, the video game which "everyone is talking about" and was rated a "10/10," or the one which is "sort of entertaining" and a "6/10"?

Of course, advertisers can’t just say whatever they want in an ad. Despite trying to maximize the impact on customers, they must remain truthful. If you say your product "works every single time," but it doesn’t work for some people, you could run into problems.

As a consumer, you are protected by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a U.S. government agency that makes sure that the ads you see or hear are truthful, evidence-based, and not deceptive. However, if you’re not sure if an ad is completely truthful, your best resource is to go online and research it for yourself.

While advertisers have to ‘tell the truth,’ they don’t have to tell the complete truth and can get away with having some ‘creativity.’ Instead of just stating plain facts about the product (boring!), they will weave a compelling story with these facts to convince you to buy the product.

Thanks to the FTC, the ads you see won’t be completely lying to you, but that doesn’t mean you should trust everything you see. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your gut! To check whether an ad is telling the truth, look it up online, read customer reviews – do as much research as you can!

Still, it’s important to know exactly how to find the truth.

Info Sources

Before you buy a product or service, you should make sure the information about it is accurate and reliable. If you already know the source of the information is reliable, that’s great! Otherwise, you need to do some research online and gather as much information as possible.

Pre-purchase information is the information you gather on a product or service before buying it. Because of the huge volume of information online, consumers now not only decide what to buy, but also what sources to check beforehand. Make sure your sources are reliable. Some of the best sources are real customer feedback.

Point of purchase (POP) information is the information that you might see around a store or site as you are adding things to your cart. For example, if you’re grabbing tomatoes and see a discount for eggplants.

Point of sale (POS) information is the information that you might see as you are going to make a purchase. For example, a banner over the cash register advertising some product or discounts.

Advertisers want you to buy more things at every step of the way. In order to stay true to what you set out to buy, make sure you’ve done your pre-purchase research and avoid making any impulse purchases.


Remember that it is some people’s job to make you spend money. Stand your ground! Do your research before making a purchase, and refuse to be swayed by flashy ads.