Practical ways to prevent overspending because of the fear of missing out

The financial cost – and the way out – of FOMO

If you’re addicted to social media networks, could you be suffering from FOMO? The abbreviation for fear of missing out, FOMO is the virtual equivalent of “keeping up with the Joneses,” or competing with your friends and acquaintances for material accomplishments. Caution: if you’re a millennial (between the ages of 25 and 34), you might be particularly susceptible to FOMO. According to a recent study, 26 per cent of Canadians admitted to having it. Of those, 48 per cent are millennials.* The good news: there are practical ways to deal with the condition.

Besides the psychological pressure of measuring your life based on the content your friends share online, FOMO can make a serious dent to your wallet. Here’s how:

Flaunt fest:

Your friend posts amazing photos from her latest cruise in the Mediterranean; another snaps a video of his fine wine sipping in Napa; your cousin Instagrams photos from a book launch – your favourite celebrity releasing her novel. No matter who is in your social media circle, someone will always seem to have a more interesting life than yours at any given time. Without set physical boundaries, the virtual space becomes an open and endless exhibition arena for flaunting material success, teasing you to indulge in your own.

The cycle of inadequacy:

You know your friends’ Facebook life is not their real life, at least not the whole picture. People post selectively, oftenMillennials Fear of Missing Out highlighting the good in their lives. Despite knowing this, it’s easy to get carried away by the projected lifestyles of your social media contacts. You may feel lacking, not based on facts but on your perception of how everyone else on your social media feed is having a good time. From there, it doesn’t take too long to hop on the bandwagon to pay for your own social media promotion. See how the cycle works?

Things over people:

The more you remain glued to your tablet or phone screen, the more you expose yourself to shiny new things to aspire to – the designer clothes and accessories a friend posed in; the luxurious Hawaii trip the co-worker can’t stop raving about; the gourmet food photos another friend keeps tempting you with. As things take precedence over the people in your life, the winner is often retail therapy. The losers? Your wallet and your relationships.

Spurred by instant notifications and alerts flashing on digital screens, FOMO can easily lead to impulse spending. Many, if not most of these expenses are unplanned and unaccounted for, and over time, can add up to a lot of money – money that could have grown through investments.

If you think you might be suffering from FOMO, try these steps:

1. Break down your budget and stick to it:

Earmark a portion of your budget towards fun expenses, triggered by FOMO or not. Being conscious of how much you’re allowed to spend will help you be more realistic and cause less stress to your wallet.

2. Try sticking to cash:

Leave your cards at home. Every time you pay in cash, you will be forced to live within your means and not be tempted to overspend.

Many, if not most of FOMO-triggered expenses are unplanned and over time, can add up to a lot of money – money that could have grown through investments.

3. Schedule fun time:

Knowing when you’re going out with your friends for a movie or with your partner for dinner takes the randomness out of it. You can plan better and allocate the right amount for each scheduled expense.

4. Try to unplug every once in a while:

If your FOMO is really serious, try and get away from the blitz of social networks all together for a while. You can have a weekly social media fast; deactivate your Facebook account for a period of time, turn off your phone for a couple of hours daily, or use blocking tools to restrict your access to specific social networks. You might be surprised by how you can use up all that time productively while also preventing yourself from potential splurging.

5. Pick your splurges:

If collecting antiques is your weakness, put some funds aside for it in your budget. If you like to eat out, allocate money towards that. Identifying one or two key areas you’re passionate about can help limit you from spreading your finances too thin in trying to respond to every big and small FOMO attack.

In the end, it’s all about perspective and staying grounded. Make sure your FOMO isn’t stemming from a sense of lack in some other area of your life. Remaining conscious of your spending behaviour and focusing on the non-material things that bring you joy can help you live a full life without creating a hole in your pocket.

Bonus tip: Talk to me to learn how you can grow the money you saved using the tips listed above.

Savers versus spenders – the great divide

Five tips to help couples bridge the gap on their financial attitudes

We’re all different when it comes to our perspectives on spending. Some people have no problem saving all their extra pennies, and some people spend what they have without thinking about the future. While differences make the world go round, conflicting thoughts on money matters can lead to tension in relationships. If you and your partner find yourselves at opposite ends of the saving versus spending spectrum, these tips can help you meet in the middle.

1. Understand each other’s differences

You’re buying a new car together. The spender wants all the upgrades, while the saver is just fine with the base model. When emotions run high, it can be difficult to see where your partner is coming from. The truth is, our Budgeting with Partnerattitudes about money are deeply rooted. Perhaps you or your partner is stingier with spending because there was less to go around growing up. Perhaps the person who is free with money gets an emotional reward from spending. Try to take a step back and discuss the reasoning behind your behaviour. It’s always easier to negotiate when you try to validate each other’s feelings, instead of assigning blame.

2. Set goals you can agree on

As a saver, it can seem irritating if your partner is constantly making purchases you deem frivolous. Creating a spending plan as a couple – with shared goals in mind – can help bring you together around common values. For example, say you agree that taking a trip overseas or buying a home is your biggest priority. You may want to consider how much you’ll need for that expense and factor how long it will take you to save that amount. With that savings goal in mind, it will probably be a whole lot easier to pass up unnecessary indulgences.

It is possible for partners with different spending styles to find a middle ground.

3. Establish a system for bill payment

When your bills roll in each month, avoid the last-minute scramble by setting parameters on who will pay each bill if you manage your finances using separate accounts. Perhaps you each cover half of your mortgage or rent, one of you pays the auto insurance and the other covers hydro. Since these expenses are generally fixed, setting up a system for handling bills up-front gives you one less thing to worry (fight) about.

4. Set a threshold for joint purchases

Every couple has a different way of structuring their finances, and sometimes, it takes a bit of trial and error. Some people keep separate accounts and split everything down the middle, while others pool all their resources. Other couples have four accounts between them: one joint for savings, one joint for everyday expenses and two individual accounts for whatever’s left (fun money). Whichever system you decide is best for you, you may want to consider setting a limit on the amount you can spend on a joint purchase without consulting each other. Discussing big-ticket purchases with your partner before you take the plunge is an easy way to avoid a disagreement.

5. Call for backup

Sometimes, reaching out to an impartial third party is the best way to solve financial disputes. I can help by talking to you about your goals and determining the best way to structure your finances to suit your needs. With a customized financial plan in tow, you’ll have a solid foundation for the decisions you make about your money.

With a common vision for your future and the right financial action plan, it’s possible for partners with different spending styles to find a middle ground.

Six apps to help you shape up your health and finances

Tech tools to empower you to meet your personal finance and fitness goals

If you’re aiming to make this the year you fully commit yourself to your goals, look no further than your smartphone or tablet. Starting out the year with the right tools can help you make smart choices for both your finances and your health. Check out these apps that could help you manage your finances better and make smarter fitness and lifestyle choices.

Finance and budgeting apps

Mint: Free on iPhone and AndroidMint Personal Finance App

What it is: A budgeting app with easy-to-understand graphs and charts that explain your spending.

What it does:

  • Provides a comprehensive overview of your finances in real time.
  • Automatically tracks spending and categorizes it.
  • Alerts you if and when you’re close to your budget limit.

Starting out the year with the right tools can help you make smart choices for both your finances and your health.

Level Money: Free on iPhone and Android

What it is: If you need help with sticking to your budget, Level Money will be your friend.

What it does:

  • Shows how much you can spend in a day, week or month.
  • Detects your income and expenses and can even help you see how you can save for big-ticket items or clear debt.
  • Handy planning component helps you stick to your goals in a hassle-free way.

Unsplurge: Free on iPhone

What it is: Are you looking to save for a special splurge like that Hawaii trip, a new car, or your parents’ silver anniversary bash? Unsplurge offers a slightly different, more fun, approach to budgeting.

What it does:

  • Log and track your savings progress to reach your goal.
  • Receive motivation and guidance from the community to help you get to your goal.

Health and wellness apps

Sworkit: Free on iPhone and Android with optional in-app purchases

What it is: You want to exercise regularly but are hard-pressed for time. With Sworkit you no longer have an excuse not to flex your muscles. Just tell the app what kind of workout you’re in the mood for at any given moment and for how long.

What it does:

  • Delivers exercise moves to you, whether it’s strength, cardio, yoga, or stretching you’re looking for.
  • A premium option at $4.99 a month helps personalize the experience even more by setting the number of reps and the areas of the body you want to focus on.

Yonder: Free on iPhone and Android

What it is: If you’re an outdoor person and want your workout to be in the midst of nature, Yonder can help.

What it does:

  • Once you enter your location, Yonder throws up dozens of suggestions for hiking, biking, kayaking, and skiing.
  • Offers reviews and tips from fellow outdoorsmen and women.

ShopWell: Free on iPhone and Android

What it is: Serious about how many calories you’re consuming and need help maintaining a healthy target? ShopWell will impress you.

What it does:

  • Personalizes your calorie intake based on your height, weight, age, and allergies.
  • Scores every food in terms of how healthy it is for you; try to get closer to 100 for best results.
  • The app even makes individual recommendations for similar, healthier alternatives.

Think of these apps as your personalized digital gurus as you move through the year. But remember — they don’t replace expert advice. Just as you need a doctor or dietician to help you with particular health conditions, a professional, such as myself can provide you with specific and detailed advice on how best to manage your finances.

A stronger, better you: Why it’s important to look after your financial health

We all know how important it is to take care of our physical health – it keeps us strong and helps ensure we’ll be around for years to come. But what about looking after our financial health? It’s just as important but often doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.

Even if it seems like you don’t have enough money to invest or buy insurance, it doesn’t take much. If you cut down on extra lattes or meals out, you could set yourself up with a plan for a successful financial future.

Build your personal road map

When it comes to financial security planning, it pays to start small. If you change your spending habits, even just a little bit, the long-term results could be big.

For example, let’s say you made your morning coffee at home instead of picking it up on the way to work. It may not seem like much but the amount you save could be enough for a $500,000 life insurance policy.1

If you cut down on your dining-out expenses by even $20 a week and invested that money, it could grow to almost $37,000 over a 20-year period.2

No matter what you’re saving for, you’re on the road to achieve your future goals.

Other savings ideas:

  • Leave the car at home, carpool, use public transit or ride your bike
  • Shop around for better auto and home insurance rates
  • Install LED light bulbs to reduce energy costs
  • Go to the movies on “cheap Tuesdays”
  • Clip coupons for groceries or buy in bulk
  • Cook at home instead of dining out

With those savings each month, you could:

Invest and watch it grow

A small but regular contribution into something like a tax-free savings account (TFSA) or registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) could grow substantially, if it’s invested wisely and given enough time to grow. Use this money to help fund your retirement or perhaps go on the dream vacation you’ve always wanted.

Protect your family

What would your family do if something happened to you? Insurance is a flexible and cost-effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones financially. It can help pay down your mortgage, cover outstanding debt or fund education or retirement plans.

How we can help

Spending money feels good, but knowing you’re not only protecting yourself and loved ones – but unlocking future potential – feels even better.

I can help you build a customized financial security plan to help you achieve your goals.

1Cost of coffee based on $1.70 per cup. Assumes 30 cups a month. This comparison is based on London Life term 10 life insurance, male and female, up to age 45, non-smokers, standard risk, monthly premium payments. Monthly premium depends on your age, amount of coverage and general health information. Life insurance coverage amounts represent the policy’s death benefit. Rates as of December 2015. Term 10 life insurance premiums increase on renewal after 10 years. The example provided is not complete without the London Life illustration, including the cover page, reduced example and product features pages all having the same date. Read each page carefully as they contain important information about the policy.

2Assumes $80 is invested in a balanced mutual fund portfolio on a monthly basis with a six per cent annual rate of return. Rates of return are hypothetical and provided for illustrative purposes only. Mutual funds are not guaranteed; their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. Unit values and investment returns will fluctuate.

Wedding costs to consider when planning your big day

In 2014, the average Canadian wedding cost a whopping $31,685. But that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank on your big day. Here are some ideas to keep costs in check before you tie the knot.

What’s the plan?

Newly engaged? Sit down with your partner early and talk about your hopes and dreams for the day. Make a list of what you’d like to do and be sure to keep it handy. This can help keep your plans rooted in reality when you get the urge to splurge. Ultimately, weddings can be expensive, so make sure this conversation is also about money. You and your partner may have very different ideas about what you want to spend.

Go big, where necessary

It’s okay to splurge on the things that are important to you and your partner. You can always find savings elsewhere. If Wedding Planningyou’re not a big foodie, splurge on the cost of a photographer and consider serving hors d’oeuvres rather than an entree. Have a dream venue in mind, but feel flexible on the day of the week? Venues often charge less to have a wedding on a Friday or Sunday rather than a Saturday.

Focusing your budget on the things that matter most can help you keep expectations in check and ensure your special day is all that you dreamed about.

Watch that guest list

Do you plan on having 30 guests or 150? Will your meal cost $50 or $100 per person? This can make all the difference on the final bill. Often, couples feel pressure to invite all of their family, friends and coworkers, but that doesn’t need to be the case.

Sit down with your partner and create a realistic guest list that works with your budget. Be sure to do this before you start sharing your wedding plans with your family and social circle because it will help manage guest expectations.

Be sure you have a conversation with your partner about your wedding day hopes, dreams and expectations.

Honeymoon – now or later?

As you plan your special day, you may find your costs ballooning beyond your budget. One way to balance these extra costs is to reconsider how or when you take your honeymoon.

Can you live without an extravagant getaway following your wedding? There are a number of ways you can save when considering a postnuptial vacation. Here are a few ways to make the most of your travel savings.

Waiting to take your honeymoon could give you more time to save for your dream trip, help balance your time off work and save on child, house or pet care costs. This extra time to plan and save could also make for a more relaxing (and therefore romantic) experience for you and your partner.

Ask for help

Remember, family, bridesmaids and groomsmen are here to help. This could mean having them run around to pick up decorations or making invites or centrepieces. Remember, your closest friends and family members are a part of your big day because you love them and they love you. Many are willing to lend a hand, so be sure to delegate if that’s possible.

If you’re still not sure where to start, I can help you stay on budget.

Make the most of your travel savings

If you’ve got the travel bug, chances are you’re already considering ways to save for your next adventure. With multiple responsibilities, it can be hard to ensure all the pieces of your financial picture are working together to help you meet your goals.

I can assess your individual situation and help you create a savings strategy as part of your financial security plan. Knowing you’re well positioned to save for the future means you can focus on planning your dream Travel Planninggetaway.

Consider these strategies to help you make the most of your travel time and budget. With the right preparation, your money may just take you further than you thought.

Compare airfare options

Theories about the best time to book flights are debatable, but the Airlines Reporting Corporation found that about six weeks before departure, prices are generally below average. Regardless of when you book, make sure you use multiple flight comparison sites like Skyscanner or Kayak to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Don’t forget to check airline websites directly as they sometimes have exclusive promotions when you book direct. Flights with longer connections will often cut costs, but you’ll have to assess whether the time spent is worth the money saved.

Consider a rental property

Sites like Airbnb, Homestay and Vacation Rentals by Owner often provide superior value to hotel accommodations. Staying in a more residential area can provide a unique travel experience, allowing you to discover hidden local hotspots. In addition to considerable savings on the nightly rate, the ability to cook and pack your own meals can help you minimize your dining budget.

The most valuable return on your planning effort is making the most of your time away.

Book attractions early

When visiting a new country, it can be overwhelming to decide which attractions to prioritize. Deciding upon arrival can be spontaneous and fun, but consider the precious time you’ll waste narrowing down the options while away. Before leaving, it’s a good idea to book your “must visit” destinations. Many travellers don’t consider the savings they’ll realize if they book popular attractions in advance, especially if the destination offers a combined admission pass for multiple museums or historical sites, for example. These passes often also allow you to avoid lengthy lines.

Map your route

Once you’ve decided on your top attractions, you may want to plot all your destinations on a map to determine how to cover the most ground per day. Tripomatic is a great app that will help you map your itinerary and visualize the best routes to take. Doing this will not only eliminate wasted time, but also can cut down on transportation costs if you hit destinations in close proximity on the same day.

Plan meals out in advance

While you’re planning your itinerary, take some time to browse nearby restaurants. Looking at various menus online will allow you to assess the average cost of dining, and ensure you don’t wander into high-cost tourist trap restaurants. While it may not be realistic to make reservations for every day, exploring your options will allow you to set money aside for special nights out. Familiarizing yourself with local chain restaurants and grocery stores is also a good idea if you want to stop for a quick, affordable bite, or stock your room with breakfast items and snacks.

Following these tips can certainly save you money on your next vacation, but the most valuable return on your planning effort is making the most of your time away. After all, the more you’re able to fit into one trip the better you’re likely to feel about your travel investment.

Two Incomes One Financial Household

Instead of letting money become a source of tension, couples can work together to manage household finances. Their relationship will benefit, as will their financial future.

By sharing the role, both spouses can better grasp the financial components of managing and maintaining a household. This understanding and transparency can help show the importance of avoiding ill-considered splurges.

Working together can also help couples reach their goals faster and more equitably.

The incentives

Building a budget and financial security plan and sticking to it isn’t always easy. By definition, saving means not consuming, and for many people, that doesn’t sound like as much fun. We all need goals to keep us motivated.

For younger couples, this is a fantastic opportunity to understand each other’s aspirations. It can also be a great Couple Financesequalizer. Even if one spouse makes considerably more money, decisions should be unanimous.

Cash flow – the ins and outs

Think of your household as a company, except with co-bosses. Earnings come in and bill payments go out. Whatever is left each month is profit, or in this case, savings.

Managing household expenses together in the early days of your relationship sets the foundation for lifelong financial security planning success.

Online tools make it easy to build a budget document of monthly income and expenses.

Utility bills, insurance payments, property taxes, car expenses, student loans and rent or mortgage payments will make up the biggest chunk of monthly expenses. Other household costs include groceries, keeping vehicles fuelled and insured, eating out and entertainment.

Instead of breaking down individual personal expenses, such as clothing, gym memberships and pocket money, you can set a monthly amount for each of you.

Income is the easy part. You know how much you each take home and when deposits are made. If either of you contributes to a pension plan or registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) through work, that money should be included as savings.

Joint venture

A joint bank account may be an ideal way to manage day-to-day expenses, even if one spouse looks after bill payment using the joint account.

Reoccurring bills can be paid automatically from this account. You can also set up automatic transfers to one or more shared high interest savings accounts for big ticket items like a new car or down payment for a house. Like exercising, saving money is easier when you have someone with whom to do it.

All this transparency also provides checks and balances to help prevent one partner from making a rash spending decision or putting money into an ill-advised investment.

Sharing credit

Credit cards with the highest rewards and other benefits have annual fees of $100 or more. But typically, they don’t charge extra for adding someone to the account. You’ll save on fees and your combined spending means you’re accumulating rewards faster.

You may also wish to consider having separate no-fee, low-limit credit cards. These cards can serve as a backup if one of your main credit cards is lost or stolen. Plus, it may be difficult to surprise your partner with a birthday gift if he/she has already seen the charge on a credit card statement.

Having your own credit card can also help build your credit rating score.

Sharing debt

Paying off debt offers better returns than most investments, especially high-interest debt such as outstanding credit card balances. As a family, it doesn’t matter whose name is on the debt. Paying it off should be a shared priority.

Practice makes perfect

Managing household expenses together in the early days of your relationship sets the foundation for lifelong financial security planning success. Expenses and spending are easier to track. Once kids come along, the budget will expand but the system is already in place.

Early success saving together for something special such as an exotic trip sets the stage for bigger and more important objectives – an automobile, home, kids and retirement. Understanding finances and working as a unit are essential ingredients for making money work for you to help attain financial independence.