There’s an app for that – This was Apple’s catchy slogan from 2009 promoting their app store. It was so popular that Apple ended up trademarking the phrase.
Today there are apps for almost everything. The proliferation of apps has led to the strengthening of an already existing Indian mindset – “do it for me.”
The “Do It For Me” vs. “Do It Yourself” Mindset
IKEA launched in India in 2018. Globally, IKEA is known for quality furniture that buyers assemble themselves. There’s even a popular psychological term associated with the do-it-yourself concept- the IKEA effect.
However, when IKEA launched in India, they changed their strategy. IKEA tied up with UrbanClap to offer furniture assembly. IKEA also has an in-store assembling service in India.
Because we Indians have always had the “do it for me” mindset. To succeed as a business, IKEA needed to re-write the rules of their own game.
But why is this relevant? If India has always been this way, how are new-age startups a threat?
Is Dinner Ready? Nah! Let’s Order In
When I was a kid, we used to dine out occasionally. My mom made sure that any left overs are always packed to take home and consume the next day.
With Swiggy, Zomato, and Uber Eats, leading the charge, people have started consuming restaurant food more frequently.
Families are ordering in several times a week now. Some even order all their meals, daily, through these aggregation platforms.
It’s a monumental shift; one that has a direct impact on your finances.
It’s Not Just Food Delivery.
If you thought that food delivery apps are the only source of financial leakage, there are more.
From e-commerce apps like Amazon and Flipkart to grocery delivery apps like Big Basket, every app is built to make you spend more.
Would You Like Fries With That?
In the late 1980s, McDonald’s store staff started asking people one simple question – “Would you like fries with that?”
And the result? Today, McDonald’s sells more than 80KG of fries per second, globally!
French fries are a high margin product. By getting more customers to buy their high-margin products, McDonald’s profits increased.
Now, you might be wondering. What has McDonald’s selling fries got to do with my finances?
Hear me out:
- Are fries healthy? No
- Should you be eating more junk food? No
- Is spending more money than needed per meal financially sound? No
- Does McDonald’s care? Hell, No!
As long as McDonald’s make money, they are happy.
That’s the point. Businesses want to make money. The easiest way to grow month-on-month is to make existing customers spend more.
Every app that makes your life convenient also comes with a dark side. They need you to spend more money so that they can earn their cut. This leads to regular SMSes, emails, and push notifications with enticing offers to make you spend more.
What Should You Do?
Times have changed. People are busier than ever. So it’s no wonder that people choose convenience.
It’s also not possible to be an extremist and shun the convenience completely.
However, there are a few things you can do to counter the behavioral tricks companies play on you.
#1: Uninstall Apps & Use Their Website
We love the path of least resistance. Businesses know this. That’s why they prompt you to install their mobile app.
If you install an app, then the business can make it simple for you to spend money on them. Always logged in, push notifications, etc. are ways used by app marketers to engage you.
However, if you make it a habit of not installing a mobile app and use only their website, you can keep your impulse spending at bay.
The strategy needs tweaking for apps that are mobile-only like Uber. If the frequency of usage is low, uninstall the app after use.
#2: Disable Push Notifications
I once installed Myntra app. Myntra bombarded me with push notifications every hour with a new sale offer.
I am not sure why Myntra thinks that I live to shop. But that’s push notifications taken to the extreme.
Your chances of impulse purchases are higher when you are regularly exposed to offers. The easiest way to cut out the noise is to disable push notifications.
#3: Unsubscribe From Marketing Emails / SMS
Go ahead and unsubscribe from all the marketing emails from brands. Not only will it keep your inbox cleaner, but it will also save you from unnecessary spending.
Some brands are sneaky. Even if you unsubscribe, they will not honor it. Or they will make it very difficult for you to unsubscribe. For all these businesses, create filters to spend their emails to trash.
SMS is the worst. Most companies do not give you any way to opt-out.
To control SMS spam, use the free app SMS Organizer by Microsoft. It’s kept all those annoying marketing messages off my view.
#4: Set a Budget
Setting a budget is an age-old advice. However, most of us never stick to it.
The biggest reason why budgets fail is because of the need to track everything manually, daily.
A word of caution!
Money View, Walnut, and ET Money started off as a money management app. However, all of them have shifted focus to lending.
They use your SMS data to create a credit profile for you. Based on your credit rating, they offer you loans.
If you are not comfortable with your data being used for such purposes, or you might easily get lured into taking unnecessary loans, stay away from these products.
#5: Skip The Pay Later Option
There are a plethora of lending startups that will give you instant credit to buy stuff.
It’s tempting. Buy now, pay later.
Sooner or later, you need to pay them back. When salary comes, you pay back your debt. But now you need to borrow more money for your current month’s expenses.
Before you know it, you are now in a vicious debt cycle.
#6: Be More DIY
While it’s hard to change habits, even small steps towards being self-sufficient can help you save money.
If you buy a lot of clothes online, try going to the nearby shop for the next month. If you order food a lot, try switching to ready-to-cook meals at least a couple of times.
Start small. These small changes will add up to a more happier, healthier, and wealthier you.