finding the balance between living and saving

4 ways to reduce the temptation to spend by changing the ads you see

4 ways to reduce the temptation to spend by changing the ads you see


Ever find yourself pining for something or making an impulse purchase based on a promo e-mail or well placed ad on social media? We’ve all been there. With the amount of time we spend on our screens, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to insulate ourselves from a culture of excess – be it in our social media feeds, inboxes, or browser tabs. I’ll walk you through a few ways to reduce your exposure to the onslaught of ultra-targeted advertising and reserve your eyeballs for things that matter.

1. Email
Promo emails are annoying honeypots of temptation. All too often we sign up for mailing lists in exchange for a one-time discount, then forget to unsubscribe from the barrage of promotional material that follows. is a free service that helps bulk-unsubscribe from mailing lists. If any slip through the cracks, do a quick Ctrl/Cmd+F + “unsub” to find the unsubscribe button, ‘cause lord knows it’s gonna well hidden. Unsubscribing from promos en masse has the added benefit of freeing your inbox from clutter, creating a little more space in your life, so you can breathe easier.

2. Facebook
Facebook comes at you from a few different angles. They getcha with ads embedded in your home page, and they getcha with content posted by Pages you follow.

Facebook Ads
Facebook can get spooky granular with its level of targeted advertising. The platform holds an incredible amount of demographic information about you and is able to marry that with your interests based on your activity on their platform. This includes your relationships, likes, interactions with retailers, and the links you click on. Some of the categories Facebook has me slotted into, and leverages for its advertisers, are incredibly niche. Things you’d never think of, such as: away from hometown, away from family, close friends with expats, and accesses Facebook on newer devices.

Needless to say, the deck is stacked against you, but you can also game the system by following these instructions to edit your ad preferences.  Remove yourself from the audiences that hit your weak spots. Pay special attention to the Shopping & Fashion and Business & Industry tabs.

I used to see ads for gorgeous handmade jewelry, cozy sweaters, and the latest outdoor gear. Sometimes I clicked through to sales and bought stuff I had no pre-existing desire for. After tweaking my settings I get ads for fire suppression systems and luxury cars I have zero interest in. PERFECT!

Facebook Pages
You may also wish to remove posts from retailers and publications that encourage spending. From your news feed, navigate to the menu on the left side of the page. Under the heading Explore, you’ll find the Pages Feed. Click through to your Pages Feed to scroll and unsubscribe from Pages that post tempting content. I ended up removing pages like Everlane, Lululemon, and Refinery29 from my feed.

3. Instagram
Instagram is owned by Facebook, so if you’ve edited your Facebook ad preferences away from things you’d normally shop, your Instagram account should reflect those changes. You may also want to consider unfollowing brands and ~influencers~ hawking products you don’t heckin’ need.

4. In your browser
This probably goes without saying, but ad-blockers are the mother of all ad-suppression techniques. They leverage filter lists in order to block requests to URLs associated with ad networks, and edit out elements of HTML associated with advertising. I like uBlock Origin, which makes it easy to disable blocking on websites I support – mostly news outlets and blogs I like.


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