How FOMO Has Turned Us into a Nation of Over Spenders

10.09.2019 by Jim Ker

Does the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) take precedence when it comes to budgeting? Are we turning into a nation that’s all-too-tempted by the ease of spending our hard-earned cash – and does this make it too simple to say ‘yes’ to that after-work social or those post-dinner cocktails? Our latest investigative piece explores how FOMO is turning us into a nation of overspenders and how we can tackle this trend head-on to ensure a healthier financial future.

‘Ping!’ A Facebook Messenger alert disturbs your Sunday evening bubble bath – and just like that, you’re contemplating why you chose to save some money and enjoy a quiet night in. ‘Join us for food?’ reads the message from a friend – and within seconds, you’re mentally picking out your outfit and picturing a delicious slab of steak and a nice glass of red, all the while justifying that extra bit of spending that you promised yourself you were going to squirrel away.

But the food – or the wine – aren’t the only reasons you’re doubting your evening of self-care. Instead, you’re thinking about the social media statuses that will follow and the images accompanying them. The cold, hard truth of the matter is this: you’re considering tagging along because you can’t bear to miss out. But if you head out, you know your bank balance will take a hit.

FOMO Can Mean We Spend Up to £500 More a Year
You’re not alone, either. According to Your Money, a third of Brits overspend due to Fear Of Missing Out (or FOMO, for short). Interestingly, this rises to three in five (58%) of millennials. But while making memories with our pals is never a social faux pas, financially it could be hurting you.

Your Money elaborates: ‘As many as a quarter (27%) of FOMO spenders have been left with debt, with a third saying they rely on credit to keep up’. The stats come via research by credit score provider Noddle.co.uk, with FOMO spending predicted to cost Brits almost £9 billion a year.

The average spender, the site states, racks up £500 annually – simply as a result of FOMO. That’s a lot of steaks – and wine. Of course, spending up to £500 more per year is acceptable if it’s in keeping with your budget. If not, you could run into some issues, with many millennials turning to credit to accommodate their lifestyle.

Keeping Up With the Joneses
Social media isn’t always to blame, though. People have long been influenced by what their friends are up to – and that was well before the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram came along. But there’s no denying that social sites have made it easy for people to keep others up to date with their cocktail-fuelled Saturday nights or activity-packed Sundays. That certainly hasn’t helped those who are less strict when it comes to spending.

The blogger behind the money-focused Squawkfox site joins the discussion: “The fear of missing out, or FOMO, is the new way of Keeping up with the Joneses. But unlike the Joneses next door, today’s FOMO feeds you a 24/7 global stream from a curated group of friends, celebrities, and influencers who eat brunches, buy gadgets, and wear luxury clothing – so it’s not like glancing into your neighbour’s yard and just seeing a well-kept lawn. The endless stream feels real and it feels awful.”

So, what can you do if social media envy is creeping in and affecting how much money you spend?

Limit Your Time Online – You don’t have to ban yourself from visiting social media sites altogether, but it stands to reason that the less you see, the less you’ll be influenced – and the less you’re bowing to this ‘peer pressure’ of sorts, the more chance you’ll have of retaining a healthy bank balance. Try cutting down by checking your Facebook only once or twice a day; say no to mindless scrolling and we bet you’ll be feeling better and enjoying greater financial freedom.

Spend Only What You Can Afford – Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But when payday seems an age away and another social occasion is looming, consider how you might make the cash to afford that night out. Could you dust off some of your redundant tech for instance? Or maybe you can cut back on your usual Monday evening takeaway? By planning ahead, you’ll be in a better position when it comes to managing your money. While it’s not easy, there are a number of tools, apps and techniques available that can come in really handing when it comes for saving.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No – So, you can’t afford to head along to that house party you’ve been invited to by way of a Facebook Event. After all, that might mean taking a shop-bought bottle of wine and some snacks. But remember this: saying no to a social occasion isn’t always a negative thing. Unless it’s a big event like a wedding or birthday, consider giving it a swerve. You can use the free time to catch up on something you’ve been putting off. Or you can enjoy that bubble bath after all. Of course, you don’t need to cut all of your social ties, that wouldn’t be healthy.

However, looking at the bigger picture, especially when it comes to your wallet’s well-being, can really do you a favour in the long-term and even help you weather a few financial rainy days in later life. This could also give your senior social life a much-needed boost. Have a read of our blog piece on how over 65s are enjoying a better social life than millennials.

If you do choose to go out as often as your friends, though, try to stick to a self-imposed budget – and when you’ve reached it, cut the night short. Surely that’s better than not going out at all. Build up a nest egg by starting up your savings plan, too, making sure you deposit funds into it as regularly as you can afford to help build up that nest egg for your big future plans.

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