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The Jedi Mind Tricks of Marketing:
How Companies Sway Your Spending 

APEF: Solving the Financial Illiteracy Crisis

Have you ever found yourself entering a store to purchase just one thing, yet leaving with three bags full that were unnecessary? You are certainly not alone if this has ever happened to you; companies often use persuasion techniques (kinda like Jedi mind tricks) to manipulate our spending choices and coax us into purchasing more than we actually need! But fear not; with some knowledge and awareness you can become a financial Jedi immune to their deceptive tactics!

When Darth Vader said, “You don't know the power of the Dark Side! I must obey my Master.” I’m pretty sure he was talking about marketing tricks. Let’s take a look at some common ones.

  • Scarcity and urgency: Limited-time offers, countdown timers and "only a few left" signs may create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), compelling consumers to purchase immediately or risk missing out forever. Don't succumb to pressure! Instead, consider whether this item really serves your needs or if it's just the false impression of scarcity that's driving your decision.

  • Emotional appeals: Companies tug at your heartstrings with heartwarming stories, cute mascots, or aspirational imagery to induce you into buying their product or service. Remember that emotions can cloud your judgment. Think logically about the product's value and function before succumbing to emotional manipulation.

  • Anchoring: The first piece of information we see can anchor our thinking. This can make us overspend if we see a higher price first, or underestimate costs if we're exposed to discounts early on. Imagine seeing a shirt you like and you check the price tag- it was $250 and now reduced to $65!? Seems like a great deal, right? But what if the tag just said $65? You might think- eh, that’s a little much for a basic shirt. Don't let the first number dictate your spending!

  • Social proof and celebrity endorsements: Seeing one of your favorite influencers using or endorsing something can create the "bandwagon effect." But be wary; their endorsement might have been purchased and their lifestyle might not match yours. 

  • Freebies and discounts: Everybody appreciates a good bargain. However, many "free" or discounted items often contain hidden costs, while discounts can tempt buyers into impulse buys. Before taking advantage of either scheme, carefully evaluate their long-term value and true costs before buying.. 

  • Framing: The way information is presented can influence our decisions. Companies might frame a $10 discount as "saving 20%"or wait to highlight additional fees until later in the buying process when customers are more likely to complete purchases. 

  • Sensory overload: Bright lights, catchy music, and appealing displays bombard your senses, making you feel overwhelmed and more likely to make impulsive purchases. Be mindful of your surroundings, take breaks if needed, and avoid feeling pressured into making quick decisions. 

Use the force! Marketing tricks are everywhere, but once you’re aware of them they’re easy to spot and avoid. 

  • Learn about marketing tactics, budgeting, and responsible spending. (I think you can already check this one off your to-do list.)

  • Don't shop impulsively. Make a list and stick to it- a Jedi always has a plan!

  • Feel free to ask salespeople about the product's benefits and long-term costs. Be skeptical! Sometimes, employees will straight up tell you when a product is questionable or even when a sale is coming up.

  • Research and compare prices before making a purchase. Remember, the best deals are often found after careful comparison, not on impulse.

  • When something doesn't feel right, listen to your gut instinct and walk away - trust that financial Jedi intuition!

Marketing may be filled with clever ploys, but with financial literacy and disciplined spending habits you can become an invincible financial Jedi Master who resists all their tactics. Remember that you are ultimately in charge of your spending choices - so use this knowledge to navigate the marketing sphere by choosing purchases that suit your needs and budget - not what they want you to buy! 

Soft skills refer to a set of personal attributes, behaviors, and social attitudes that enable individuals to interact effectively with others in a workplace or social environment. These skills are essential for building healthy relationships, communicating effectively, solving problems, and collaborating with others.

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