How Social Media And FOMO Are Driving You Into Debt How Social Media And FOMO Are Driving You Into Debt FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) can leave you in debt and with financial regret. We are living in an age where we can follow the lives of friends and strangers on social media. We face a constant barrage of photos of fancy brunches, concerts, luxurious vacations, over the top weddings, new cars, #OOTD (outfit of the day), and more, and the pressure to keep up is higher than ever. However, the reality of social media is that it only shows one side of people’s lives. People rarely show the mundane things in their lives or the tough stuff, creating an illusion of constant glitz and glamor. Unfortunately, this illusion creates a tremendous amount of pressure to “keep up”, which often involves a lot of spending on eating out, fancy cocktails, vacations, the latest technology, and new outfits – all things that come at a great expense and can hinder you from achieving important financial goals like saving for retirement, being able to purchase a house, or building an emergency fund. So, how do you keep up without going into debt for the sake of some great Instagram shots? Factor Fun Into Your Budget Look, no one’s saying you can’t have a little fun and treat yourself once in a while! But the key is finding a balance between having fun while still putting money towards savings and paying down debt, not accumulating more. Take time to review your current budget (or create one if you haven’t already). Look at your recent spending habits, whether you’re meeting important financial obligations such as paying money towards outstanding debts, and how you can make adjustments. It is important to leave some room in your budget for things like entertainment and dining out, but by setting a reasonable spending limit for these things, you can avoid getting carried away in the moment. If you have your eyes on a bigger expense such as a vacation, be sure to plan ahead. Estimate what expenses will be involved and make a plan to put money away each month to work towards this goal. A well thought-out budget makes it possible to find a balance so you can pay off debt and still have a social life. Pay Cash, Not Credit It can be tempting to give into indulgences like a last-minute vacation with a simple swipe of your credit card, but this is a quick road towards unmanageable debt. Even charging smaller indulgences like dinners out with friends can quickly add up faster than you think and leave you with a credit card statement at the end of the month that you can’t afford to pay off. Instead, pay cash for these types of purchases, and if an outing is involved (such as a concert or sports game), bring a predetermined amount of spending money with you and spend that and only that. By paying cash and not credit, you’ll become more aware of your spending habits and learn where you can cut back; perhaps you’ll decide it’s not worth ordering dessert or that extra glass of wine every time you go out for dinner. You’ll also avoid racking up high credit card bills (and their high interest rates). If you properly factor these expenses into your budget, you should have enough money to always pay cash rather than credit and enjoy these expenditures guilt-free! Learn to Just Say “No” The problem with social media is it makes everyone’s lives look like a constant barrage of fun – but what you don’t see is the times people decide to stay in and cook at home or the concert they had to miss out on. What you also don’t see is the price people are paying for their extravagant lifestyles – anyone can “afford” nice vacations and dinners if they have enough credit cards, but those expenses will come back to haunt them. Once we come to the realization that social media paints an overly perfect picture of peoples’ lives, we’ll feel less pressure to say “yes” to everything. While it may feel unfair to not be doing all the same things your friends are doing, you’ll soon come to find that the cost of missing out will more than be made up for in the fact that you won’t be racking up out of control credit card debt. Instead, you’ll be building up savings so that things like a house, a nice collection of wine, a new car, or a retirement full of travel and adventures are all well within reach for your future self. A little bit of restraint now will allow you to indulge in a more fulfilling and meaningful way later. Leslie Tayne Leslie H. Tayne has more than 15 years' experience in the practice area of consumer and business financial debt-related services. Speaker, Author of Life & Debt, Attorney and Founder of the Tayne Law Group, P.C., Leslie is working towards reshaping the debt industry by offering real, proven solutions to help her clients get back on the road to financial freedom.