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.

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.