Have you ever found yourself enthralled by a "haul video" of a YouTuber unpacking bags and bags of brand new items? It can be mesmerizing. In just a few minutes, they unpack and try on more clothes than most people buy in an entire year. It’s like Christmas morning on speed.
Watching one of these haul videos here or there is all well and good. You might discover a new brand or find a discount code to purchase an item you’ve been longing to buy. But what happens when haul videos become a habit or obsession?
Watching haul videos can negatively impact your finances in so many ways. We’ll show you how they can be a slippery slope to financial ruin and what to do with your time (and money) instead.
What are haul videos?
In a typical haul video, a popular YouTube influencer will review, display, and/or try on several brand new items they just purchased. Shot in perfect lighting and usually displayed on “perfect” bodies and in perfectly curated homes, haul videos glamorize consumption. The message behind haul videos is that more is always better. They normalize excess.
While clothing is the most popular category for try on haul videos (it has recently accounted for 58% of all haul videos), other common haul categories include beauty and makeup hauls, home décor, and toys.
Even within clothing, there are different types of hauls. Videos might display goods from fast-fashion retailers like Forever21 and Shein or luxury designers like Chanel and Prada (yes, people “haul” these luxury brands, too!).
7 Ways how watching haul videos negatively effects your finances
Watching clothing haul videos might sound like a harmless hobby. Usually, it is. But, it can also negatively impact your finances if you ignore the real messages these videos are sending. Here are seven ways watching haul videos can harm your wallet:
1. Causes you to blow your budget
Even if you’ve diligently planned out a monthly budget, all of your hard work can be blown in just a few minutes. In a typical clothing haul video, a YouTuber will display hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars worth of clothes.
Fast fashion might be affordable in small doses, but it certainly isn’t when you find yourself filling up shopping cart after shopping cart with stuff. And forget it when it comes to luxury goods – purchasing just one item that you didn’t plan to buy can cause you to blow your budget in an instant.
In some luxury clothing haul videos, influencers might spend $50,000 – yes, you read that right – on one shopping trip! It’s hard to remember what real life is like and what your budget actually is when you see people spending that kind of money.
2. Influences you to buy things you cannot afford
Seeing “regular” people buy so many things normalizes what we think we should have. Watching haul videos can cause you to spend money to chase an unrealistic standard.
While a YouTuber might haul a new kitchenware set, that doesn’t mean everyone needs to go out and buy a brand-new twenty-piece set for their home. But, because it becomes so normal to see people seemingly spending thousands of dollars at once, it might cause you to do just that.
What you don’t realize when watching try on haul videos, though, is that companies gift many YouTubers the products in exchange for reviewing or showing them on their channel.
So, that thousand-dollar clothing haul you just watched might not have cost the influencer anything. It will cost you, though, when it causes you to buy things you cannot afford.
3. Causes you to overconsume
If you watch a luxury haul video, you might be inspired to do some online shopping of your own. Let’s say you can afford to buy three new designer bags, and that wouldn’t even blow your budget. Just because you can doesn’t mean it’s the best financial decision for you.
Watching haul videos can cause you to overconsume and overspend. Even if you aren’t risking your retirement to make these purchases, ask yourself whether you really, truly need the item. Many of us watch haul videos and buy things we didn’t even know existed before watching them.
4. Puts your financial priorities in the wrong place
If you become focused on accumulating more, more, more, and that’s what becomes important to you, it can be hard to stay on track with your financial goals. Try on haul videos can lead you astray by focusing your attention on the wrong things, like consumption rather than saving.
5. Wastes your time
Between work, family, and other obligations, your free time is precious and often limited. Do you really want to spend that time watching people you don’t know indulge themselves by trying on endless clothes or makeup?
Just imagine what you could do with that time that would actually be beneficial to your finances. Instead of wasting it watching clothing hauls, you could invest in yourself by educating yourself on personal finance (Clever Girl Finance’s 100% free courses are a great place to start).
Or, why not create a YouTube channel of your own or another type of side hustle not focused on consumption?
6. Influences you to waste money on fast fashion
So many try on haul videos are centered on fast fashion. The clothes are usually cheap and disposable. Even if you don’t spend a ton of money purchasing the items, you’ll end up spending more in the long run.
The cost per wear of something you can only wear once or twice tends to be a lot higher than the cost per wear of quality items.
Also, remember that many influencers in clothing haul videos are given the clothes. This means that they rarely say anything negative about the products.
Even if they end up throwing them out or never wearing them, they’ll pretend for the camera that the items are of great quality and will give them positive reviews. You might be duped into wasting money on fast fashion that will go right into the trash when it arrives.
7. Can plunge you into credit card debt
Lastly, watching haul videos is a fast way to plunge yourself right into credit card debt. Watching the videos on your phone or computer means that an online shopping cart is just one click away.
You might aimlessly partake in hauls of your own, placing way too many orders on credit and buying things you cannot afford and will not be able to pay off.
Once you get yourself into the cycle of consumer debt, it can be hard to get out of, and watching try on haul videos is definitely not going to help keep you debt-free.
What to do instead of watching haul videos
In addition to being harmful to your personal finances, haul videos have broader negative impacts on society. Fast fashion, in particular, has detrimental effects on the environment and is notorious for exploiting factory workers who produce the garments.
Instead of participating in “haul culture” and harming both your own finances and society at large, there are so many other things you can do with your time. Here are just a few alternatives:
1. Watch “haulternative” videos
If you really love fashion and shopping videos, shift to watching “haulternative” videos instead. In these videos, a person will still show off lots of things, but they are vintage and second-hand items and tend to be less in number than in traditional clothing hauls. Take inspiration from these and do vintage or second-hand shopping of your own.
2. Make a list of what you actually want and set a goal to save up for that item
Instead of watching haul videos for inspiration, make a list of things you actually know you want! Let’s say you really want a specific Chanel handbag. Don’t buy it just because someone in a haul video bought five; buy it because it’s your dream bag.
Then, plan out your purchase. How will you pay for it? What do you need to cut back on in order to make it work with your budget? It will be so much more rewarding to purchase your dream item if and when you can actually afford it. Check out our guide on how to save for your Chanel handbag!
3. Watch minimalism or decluttering videos instead of haul videos
Watching mindless YouTube videos can be stress relieving. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But, instead of watching haul videos that can cause you to overconsume, switch it up and go the opposite route.
Minimalism and decluttering videos can be surprisingly soothing and calming. You might find that it is even more satisfying to declutter and downsize than it is to accumulate more stuff.
4. Find a new hobby
Lastly, to fill the time you used to spend watching clothing hauls, find a new hobby. Anything goes! Lots of times we watch videos and shop when we are bored. Instead, discover something more worthwhile and less expensive. You could even find a hobby you can make money off of!
Haul videos do more harm than good
Haul videos have helped create a society of over-consumers. So many of us buy things we can’t afford or don’t need, and it’s wreaking havoc on our finances. Hopefully, you’ve seen how detrimental watching haul videos can be to your financial wellness.
Better yet, you’ve seen that there are alternatives to watching them and participating in the fast fashion and consumerism that they promote. So resist the urge to overconsume and overspend. Remember, budgeting for fashion prevents you from overspending on items too.
Learn how to create a budget where you can include money for your most wanted items with our completely free budgeting course! If you need some motivation to help you save money and stick to your goals, then tune into the Clever Girls Know podcast and YouTube channel for help!