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Overspending Because of Social Media? Here’s How to Stop.

By Erica Gellerman
July 12, 2019

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It’s hard to scroll through Instagram or any other social media platform and not be inundated with post after post showing you everything you’re missing. And it’s not just the ads that pop up in your feed, it’s the people you know — or the influencers you think you know — that may be causing you to spend. 

Charles Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth Survey found that more than a third of Americans admit that their spending has been influenced by what their friends are sharing on social media. And they also say that this FOMO is causing them to overspend. In fact, nearly half of millennials spend money they can’t afford on experiences with their friends. With stats like this, it’s not hard to see that social media can be a barrier between you and your savings account. 

So, what can you do to stop overspending due to social media FOMO? Here are four tips to help you curb the urge to spend. 

1. Curate your feed

It’s time to find balance with who you follow. While it’s fun to follow celebrities or friends who live it up, get in some other #goals. 

Find accounts that make you feel good, without necessarily making you feel the need to spend more. If you’re a runner, following running accounts can help inspire you to run, a low-cost activity. Love baking? There are plenty of social media accounts that will help you indulge in that hobby. I love hiking, so following accounts that show people getting outdoors inspires me to do the same.

If you want to balance some of the flashier accounts that grace your feed with others that will bring you back to reality, try finding money savvy accounts to follow. You’ll find some inspiration by searching hashtags like #debtfreecommunity and #moneymotivation. With these hashtags, you’ll find accounts of real people sharing the things they’re doing to reach their money goals

And remember, if you’re searching for new accounts to follow and Instagram keeps suggesting accounts that will only fuel the need to spend, you can request that they stop showing you those type of posts.

2. Remind yourself it’s a highlight reel

You know your friend who is always posting about a new trip, a new bag, or an epic brunch? That’s a small piece of her life. Of course she’s not going to post about her morning commute or the sad salad she had for lunch.

This an important thing to remind yourself as you start to feel envy over her life: It’s not her entire reality. 

And if you ever find yourself stopping mid-scroll and wondering how someone can afford everything you see, think about this: Maybe he can’t. He may have massive credit card bills, be dealing with debt, or have nothing saved at all. It’s very easy to see someone’s spending, but it’s very difficult to see his savings

3. Remember what you value

With social media, you’re constantly taking in images and information. Sometimes, without realizing it, you can get so caught up in what other people are doing and sharing that you forget what makes you happiest. 

Next time you start feeling pangs of jealousy seeing someone wearing a new outfit, driving an amazing car, or living the life on vacation, take a step back. Think of what you value and what makes you truly happy. Maybe it was the potluck dinner you hosted, or the night you spent on your couch with a friend eating popcorn and bingeing on Netflix. Or, perhaps it was a great walk in the park you took Saturday morning. Maybe none of those things would look so fabulous on social media, but they sure felt great. 

4. Take a break from your apps

How much time are you spending on social media apps? Maybe more than you think. People spend an average of two hours and 22 minutes per day on social media. How does your usage stack up? Your phone can easily tell you. On the iPhone, you’ll find your data by checking the Screen Time section of your settings. On the Google Pixel, you can find it under Digital Wellbeing. 

If you’re spending a lot of time on these apps and they’re hurting your wallet, it might be time to take a break or cut back on your use. 

Or, to avoid mindlessly opening them, try taking them off your home screen or using an app that blocks social media, like Offtime, or an app that helps you curb your usage, like Moment. If that doesn’t help, try scheduling your social media usage during one specific time of the day, like on your evening bus ride home. If you find yourself reaching for your phone mindlessly, download a good book and make a habit of reading a few pages.

If all else fails, delete your apps. You can always reinstall them, but you may find that a few days of space gives you the perspective that you need. 

Final word

Social media can be a great way to stay up to date with friends. But don’t let the lifestyle you see on social media influence you to spend more and save less. And remember: Your happiness is much more important than a social media feed.

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