Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) may be a term most often paired with millennials, but it’s not so new. One could argue “Keeping up with the Joneses” is an early form of FOMO. In fact, Princeton Journal of Science and Technology goes as far to say that FOMO is a form of social conformity.
We’re all curious about the things and experiences our peers have that we don’t. The problem is we can now “see” a lot more thanks to social media. And when our fast-paced lives meet the social pressure we feel in person and on the internet, things can get hairy.
Curiosity is fine, but when it turns into a manic need and a relatively accepted culture of embracing that need (#FOMO), = our budget planning is destroyed. Here’s how you can rescue your budget planning from FOMO.
How FOMO destroys your budget planning
1. FOMO give us a scarcity mentality
The very nature of FOMO is based on a scarcity mentality. “If I don’t do this thing now, I may never get to do it again…If I don’t buy this thing now, it may not be there later.” In other words, fear.
Fear and finances should never go together, but FOMO encourages this relationship. It’s damaging to our budget plans and our long-term financial growth.
2. FOMO deems any budget planning activity irrelevant
FOMO and budget planning are not friends, nor will they ever be.
Budget planning involves carefully applying your money to planned expenses and savings. FOMO doesn’t want you to plan or save; FOMO wants you to spend now. But with no savings to speak of, there’s no way to weather unexpected financial storms.
In a survey by The New York Federal Reserve, only 47 percent of respondents said they were prepared for an emergency with at least three months of expenses saved up.
3. FOMO tells us to treat ourselves
FOMO’s not good for us, but it tricks us into thinking that it is. When FOMO leads us to take actions to treat ourselves, we give in quickly because we believe we deserve it.
What we “deserve” is to spend our money the way we originally planned, not have it sidelined by shiny objects. What we “deserve” is to see our goals accomplished and enjoy them all the more when we understand the sacrifices it took to make them happen. (Said as I slowly back away from that amazing but ridiculously priced $4 cookie at my coffee shop…)
4. FOMO encourages us to spend on experiences
FOMO doesn’t just trick us into treating ourselves, it also tricks us into thinking we’re being smart about spending money – if we spend it on experiences.
Messages telling us to spend on experiences instead of things are everywhere these days. The idea of spending money on adventure instead of stuff is a great sentiment but if taken too far, it can remove guilt from unplanned spending.
Even if it’s a good idea to spend on experiences, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to spend on them right now. But when we see pictures of our friends jumping out of airplanes or zipping through trees in a remote jungle, it can make it hard to not drop all our money on a travel website.
As a culture, Americans don’t need encouragement to spend more, whether it be on experiences or things. According to a recent survey by Gallup, those who enjoy spending money carry more credit card debt – 81 percent more – than those who prefer saving money.
If FOMO leads you to credit card debt, you’ll quickly move your money goals backward instead of forward. It’s something you should work to get out of ASAP.
How to rescue your budget plan from FOMO
1. Reframe what you see on social media
Since a lot of today’s version of FOMO happens on social media, fight back by reframing what you see.
If a friend of yours posted about something they bought, try to remember if they recently told you they’re “broke.” If someone posted pictures of their fourth dream vacation this year, consider whether or not they have any savings.
Some people buy things and experiences because they save their money and can afford it. Some people buy things and experiences in spite of what they can afford, and go deep into debt for it. The point is, you can’t tell on social media which is which. But you can reframe the situation.
Don’t believe your life is less than because it doesn’t look as great as someone else’s on social media. Chances are, you’re not seeing their whole story.
2. Trick yourself into saving
If your willpower is running low, trick yourself into saving. Whatever that thing or experience you’re about to buy costs, move that amount of money into your savings account first. You can even do this while you’re out if you have your bank’s mobile app, or you can try a finance app.
Wait ten minutes. Do you still want to make that purchase when you have to take the money out of your savings to do it? Even if this doesn’t work every time, it can help. After all, FOMO can quiet down when you let rational thought seep in.
3. Don’t buy into advertising
If the reason you’re struggling to beat FOMO is because of advertising copy like “limited-time only” or “get one before they run out,” don’t fall for it.
There’s a good chance you can get that product tomorrow or next month; that the ad is a ploy to get you to buy now. Unless this is a thing you’ve been saving for a long time for, don’t let yourself bust your budgeting plan because of clever ads.
4. Consider a budget plan to be the ultimate treat to yourself
It’s easy to fall for FOMO when we want to treat ourselves, but remember that too many treating ourselves moments hurt us later.
If you are about to spend because FOMO, stop for a second and think about your other goals. In the end, following your budget plan so you can reach those goals is the best way to “treat yo’ self.”
Looking for more ways to save money? Check out these 31 tips to help you get your finances in shape in 2017.
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