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In this video, Test Lab host Cindy purchases and reviews items from her Instagram targeted ads, to see if these advertised products are good quality, worth the money, or just encouraging mindless spending.

Whether through attempting a no-spend challenge, switching up a budget system, or tracking progress on a new healthy routine, we'll be highlighting all the risks *and* rewards of frugal living.

Cindy Zuniga Sanchez Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zerobasedbudget/
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Hey, everyone. I'm Cindy Zuniga-Sanchez for The Financial Diet. And welcome to The Test Lab.

Here at The Test Lab, we take on different money challenges to help you live a better and more budget friendly lifestyle. In today's episode, I'm going to be buying and trying different products based off of Instagram advertisements. Many businesses purchase ad space on the various social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and, of course, Instagram.

But are their products worth it? As an avid social media user, I am exposed to dozens of advertisements on a daily basis. And I'm sure you are too, whether it is scrolling on our feed, seeing a sponsored post from our favorite influencer or from a business itself, or when we're swiping through stories, catching up on our friends' daily updates, where ads serve sort of as many commercial breaks.

Before this experiment, I honestly wasn't too mindful of what types of products I'm advertised. But after a bit of swiping, I definitely noticed a pattern. I'm advertised a lot of clothing, bags, shoes, accessories and lots of household supplies.

I ultimately purchased five different products that I was advertised at different price points and I'm going to be putting them to the test. I'm going to provide my opinions on the advertisement itself, the product packaging, performance, quality, and, of course, overall value. I'm excited to share my thoughts.

So let's dive in.  First up, we have these resistance bands from Blogilates. These came from a Target advertisement that said "Easy ways to fit fitness into your life." And they featured these resistance bands. And the caption said, "Start the day with simple stretches and some self-care." That ad took me to Target's page that featured a bunch of different fitness products, like medicine balls, dumbbells, these resistance bands.

And I was drawn by the ad, because I said to myself, well, I've been meaning to incorporate some light equipment into my morning workout routine. This would be great. And also, because all the products were very aesthetically pleasing.

So that drew me in. This was $17.99 for a pack of three in light, medium, and heavy. Obviously, I've taken these out of the package and I just put them back in so you can see.

But yeah, this is what the package looked like. And my first impression when I received the package was, obviously, it was really nicely packaged. I immediately went to the back and saw that there's a QR code that you can scan so that you can check out their free workouts.

And I was really intrigued by that. But a little bit more on that in a bit. Now, let's talk about performance and quality.

So overall, these bands are a nice quality. The handles are very, very comfortable. But I notice that there's not much tension with the bands, especially when you're comparing the bands from light to heavy.

The difference between them isn't very noticeable. Another thing is that, here in the packaging, the back-- remember, I mentioned that had this QR code so that you can scan and do workouts? I scanned the QR code.

I downloaded the app. And I didn't find any workouts that actually used the resistance bands. In fact, the instructor there, she's not even using the bands herself.

So I thought that that was kind of odd, because if you're a newbie, how would how to use these resistance bands? So overall, for the price at $17.99, I think these are really nice for just basic, beginner-type of workouts. But if you're looking for more of a substitute for dumbbells, I'd probably skip on these.

So I rate these a three out of five. Next up, we have the new lipstick by Fenty Beauty, which is Rihanna's cosmetics brand. I was scrolling on my Instagram stories and came across an advertisement for Sephora with their Just Dropped items, which are their new products available for purchase.

And one of the products was this lipstick by Fenty. What drew me in is the fact that this lipstick consists of two parts. So you do have to purchase them separately.

It's a refillable case, which costs $12 and a refillable cartridge, which is the actual lipstick color itself, which costs $20. So $32 total. Here's the product.

This is the lipstick case. And this is the actual lipstick color. The website reads that Rihanna created this lipstick so that customers can have a luxe experience as well as eco-friendly and sustainable packaging.

However, my first impression when I received the product is that I'm not sure how much packaging it's actually saving to support its eco-friendly claim given how large, the actual lipstick case is. The lipstick itself doesn't have much packaging. As you can see, it's just this little plastic piece and the actual lipstick bullet.

But for the case, I tried it in my lipstick holder, which I have here. And as you can see, this doesn't fit. So in comparison to my other lipsticks, this is significantly larger than my normal lipsticks.

So I'm in my bathroom right now. And I thought I had hit the record button. Of course, I didn't.

So I already applied the lipstick. But this is what it looks like. And the way you open it is you twist this and it pops out here.

You pull it. And that's the lipstick there. And I applied it.

It applies really nicely. It's very nicely pigmented, very nice color. It feels comfortable.

It's not very drying. So I will wear this throughout the day and let you know what my thoughts are. After wearing this lipstick throughout the day, I must say, I really like it.

The pigmentation, the color-- which is in the color The MVP, 01. --the lasting power, all really good. I actually want to try other colors in her line, because I really enjoyed the lipstick. However, I didn't really love the case nor do I really find it necessary.

So I probably wouldn't purchase another case if I purchase another lipstick. I would just purchase the lipstick color itself, which is $20, which I think is a pretty fair price. Overall, because I really enjoyed the actual lipstick, but didn't care too much for the case, I rate this product a four out of five.

Next up, we have the Pressure Relief Seat Cushion buy Cushion Lab. And I had never heard of this brand, but I came across them on my Instagram Stories. They had an advertisement that said "Cyber Monday prices are now live." And this was the middle of February.

So I'm not sure what Cyber Monday they were referring to. But obviously, the ad worked, because I clicked on it. And when I clicked on it, they said that they have magical seat cushions that will make you feel like you're floating on air.

Now, as someone that works from home and has lower back problems, I thought, yes. This is the perfect product. Sign me right up.

I was very underwhelmed by the actual sale price, because it retails for, I believe it's $82. But the sale was only for $10 off, so $72. But anyways, I did purchase it in the gray.

They offer a variety of colors. But I do have a lot of thoughts on this product. My first impression of the product is that it's huge.

When I placed it on the seat of my office chair, it was actually a little bigger than the seat. So I had to really try to make it work. I also tested it on my dining chairs.

And it was also bigger than the seat of our dining chairs. That said, immediately, as soon as I tried this, I knew that it was not going to work for me. I was having to put a lot of stress on my lower back so that I can remain upright.

And I don't know. Maybe it's the shape of the cushion. Maybe it's the height.

Maybe it's also the fact that I have lower back problems. So if you don't, this might work for you. But after testing it for a few days, I can really confirm that this is absolutely not the product for me.

And also, it is really expensive. I was looking at other seat cushions at Target and Walmart and you can get something for less than half of the price of this. So overall, because of the sheer size, the fact that it's not very comfortable, and the fact that it's expensive, I rate this product a one out of five.

Next up and on a much brighter note is the Cuyana Leather Travel Case Set. Cuyana is a women's clothing and accessories brand that's focused on sustainability, high quality items, and has a very minimalistic design. I had never heard of the brand before, until I came across one of their ads on social media.

And one of their ads was specifically for this leather case item. And I thought that could be perfect for everyday use and, obviously, for travel. And so I got mine in the color Soft Rose and paid $128 for it.

So yes, it's very pricey, which is definitely why I was interested in knowing is this product worth it. When I received the bags, they came with a dust bag, which is great, because it's going to help protect your bags. As for what fits inside and how I've been using them, so this small one I've been using for every day in my purse.

And what fits in here is just your everyday purse item. So I have a pack of tissue, my metro card, a mirror, an extra mask, hand sanitizer, lip balm, a hair tie, lotion. So this is perfect for everyday use.

As for the larger bag, this is great for travel, for your makeup, your toiletries. So for example, I have a full size hairbrush in here. I have toothpaste, deodorant.

So I mean, you can just tell how much fits in there. So this would be a perfect catchall for just everything that you want to bring with you on your trip. The quality of the leather is really nice.

And I read on their website that their leather goods are actually cut and assembled by a family-run business in Argentina. So that was really nice to see. That said, this brand is pricey.

So whether $128 travel bags will be worth it to you is going to depend on your needs and what you value. I don't think I would've spent that much on travel bags if not for social media ads. But that said, I'm really glad that I was introduced to this brand, because it's founded by a fellow Latina that's passionate about sustainability and design and supporting small businesses.

So, for me, it's definitely been worth it. I've been using these bags ever since I received them. Well, the small bag.

And this one, I plan on using for my upcoming travels. And I was so intrigued by the brand that I actually went to their store here in Soho, New York to check it out. And I think that just goes to show that with effective advertisements and good products, you can bring in not just online customers, but in-person shoppers as well.

So overall, because of the quality of the products, the brand's values, the design, the functionality, I give this purchase a five out of five. Last, but certainly not least, we have the Almond Cow Plant-Based Milk Maker. This milk maker claims to make five to six cups of fresh plant-based milk at the touch of a button.

The product bundle comes with three things. It comes with the milk maker itself. You can make almond milk, oat milk, cashew milk.

It comes with a glass jug to store your milk. And then, finally, it comes with the cleaning brush. The product bundle retails for $218.

I did have a $15 coupon from the Instagram ad, which brought down the price a bit. But still, it's really pricey. My other hesitation is that I have a-- I live in a pretty small apartment in New York City.

And I have very limited kitchen counter space. So I questioned whether this would be a smart purchase. This is the ultimate Instagram made me buy it type of product.

Before seeing the ad, I've probably made my own almond milk once or twice in the past, but I never thought that I needed a machine to help me with that process. So I like to think of things in terms of cost per wear or cost per use. It's a simple formula where you take the total purchase price and you divide it by the number of times that you can reasonably expect to use the product.

So in this case, this is $200. If I use it four times a month for, let's say, three years, the cost per use is about $1.40. You also need to add the cost of the ingredients that you use to make your homemade milk.

The 1 cup of almonds that I used to make this milk is about $1.82. That makes a jug of almond milk about $3.20. You could likely get a better deal at Costco or another store.

So it's really going to depend on how many times you're going to use the milk maker.  Wow. That's really, really good. Yeah. 10 out of 10.

Very, very good. Overall, because I think this product is really innovative, it's a great solution for people that like plant-based milk and like to make their own milk. Because of that, I rate it a four out of five.

And there you have it, putting five products that Instagram advertised to me to the test. After going through this challenge, I do want to offer a few tips. First, do your research on both the brands and the product.

Before deciding whether you're going to support a company, read there About section on their website as well as customer reviews so that you can get a better idea for who it is that you're supporting. Second, avoid impulse shopping by implementing a 24-hour rule. If you see something that you like, go ahead and put it in your cart, but give yourself at least 24 hours before checking out.

This is going to allow you time to think about the purchase before you actually make it. If it's really worth it, you can wait a day. Third, use coupons.

Most companies offer a 10% or 15% discount to new customers when you sign up with your email. If you don't want your inbox cluttered, simply unsubscribe when you're done with your purchase. A lot of companies also have a chat feature where you can simply ask if they have any coupons available for their new customers.

And lastly, ensure that what you're purchasing is within your budget. Now more than ever, we're exposed to dozens of advertisements on a daily basis, perhaps even more. So you want to be particularly mindful of your budget and only purchase something if it is within your means.

Now, we want to hear from you. Would you consider purchasing any of these products? Also, have you ever purchased a product based off of a social media advertisement?

Was it worth it? I really hope you enjoyed this episode of The Test Lab. If you have any challenge ideas, leave them below in the comments.

And don't forget to give this video like. Subscribe. And I will see you all soon.

Bye.