Ryan P. Cleary
Float Finance 1.3: External Influences on Your Money (Part 3 of 4)
Updated: Mar 23, 2020
Float Finance is a series of accessible articles, tools, and resources designed to empower early career employees and students to navigate their financial journey.
Why do we care about external influences? Aren't our decisions around money self-motivated? While we can control many of our financial decisions, outside factors (external influences) also impact our financial choices. In this article we will discuss how external influences affect financial decisions and how to deal with those influences. The key takeaway is that though these external influences impact financial our choices, we can use strategies to stay focused on our goals.
Influences on Choices about Money
In earlier articles we discussed the impact of your personal values on your financial decisions. External influences can also impact your financial decisions; these messages about money can be so widespread that you do not even realize they are there. Most of us are influenced in some way every day! These external influences can include advertisements, media, celebrities, peers, friends, and more.
These influences can be productive and help you achieve your goals (think about a friend who suggests going to a free concert instead of a downtown club). However, they can also sometimes be unproductive and get in the way of achieving your goals (think of another friend who always wants to eat at fancy restaurants). This makes it much harder! It’s important to understand how each factor influences your financial decisions.
Examples of External Influences
Take a moment and think about your own life- maybe even talk with friends or family. Consider the following types of external influences and consider recent cases where they helped you make decisions about how to use your money.
Have you recently seen ads online, TV, or on a billboard? Can you think of cases where they made you aware of a product which you later purchased or used? Maybe an ad made you consider switching to a new product? Advertisements aren't a bad thing- just be aware of when they are influencing you.
Where do you usually get your news? How about watch or stream videos/TV? Do you ever notice products in the shows or adjust your habits based on these stories?
Celebrities & Influencers
Do you pay much attention to celebrities or influencers? Have your ever bought a brand or tried a new activity after learning about it from a celebrity or influencer you admire? How about one you intensely dislike?
Friends, Peers, and Family
This can be one of the most powerful influences you can have. Think about what things they value- this likely influences your habits as well.
Social Pressure and Advertising
Have you ever wanted something that someone you know or someone you admire (celebrity, artist, influencer, etc) has- maybe their clothes, style, a vacation, car, or more spending money?
Noticing what other people and wanting to share in it is human nature. You might feel like you have to spend money to “keep up” with them- that’s a normal feeling to have and it’s hard! Advertisers spend billions of dollars every single year to convince us to want things and try to influence how we use our money. Often, we’re influenced by advertisements and what we see in ways we aren’t consciously aware of. This can lead to purchasing things that we weren’t planning to- this is called an “impulse purchase”. Doing this occasionally is okay if you plan for it in your budget (we like to call this “fun money”) but doing it too often can prevent you from reaching the goals you set.