Is FOMO Sabotaging Your Budget?
Are you afraid of missing out? Do you often have an empty feeling inside when you see friends on social media at happy hour or skydiving? Then you have FOMO, the fear of missing out. FOMO affects millions of people every day (roughly 56% of the population according to a study on Mashable.com). Social media has perpetuated the assumption that people are always doing something bigger and better than you. If you aren’t doing something worth sharing, you’re missing out. Who hasn’t pictured themselves on a red carpet with cameras flashing at a new nightclub’s opening night? When I scroll through Facebook and see my friends posting their awesome photo-ops, I’m not gonna lie, I definitely get jealous.
The FOMO Experience
As a sophomore in college, nights at home watching a movie in my dorm room were seldom and filled with FOMO. I would jump at the chance to indulge in the typical college experience. I was in college! The supposed best four years of my life! I didn’t want to look back in 20 years and wish I had done more. It was far too common to be standing in line waiting to buy some girly liquor like UV Blue or Smirnoff Pineapple, and my friends would ask me to add their items to my bill saying they would get mine next time. Of course that next time rarely happened.
At the time, I didn’t mind grabbing the tab for alcohol or dinner out with friends for a couple of reasons.
- My mom would put money in my account every week, so I never needed to worry about spending money. I knew (rather expected) there would be funds in my account whenever I made a phone call home.
- I loved being around people! Who doesn’t want a group of friends they can count on for anything and always have a good time. It was the clique I never had in high school, and there was no way I was giving that up.
Looking back four years later, I feel foolish. Not only for expecting my mom to support my FOMO spending habits, but also for thinking that staying in and watching a movie wasn’t the best decision I could have made! Today, when I feel an urge to drink or go dancing in a club like the “good old days”, the thought is fleeting and shallow. I get home, am greeted by my boyfriend, Ryan, and our cats and the thoughts of drinking and partying turn into the memories of the crash and hangover from those wild nights.
How FOMO is most likely hurting you and your wallet
If you have FOMO, it is probably sabotaging not only your beauty sleep but also your budget goals. The anxiety that comes from FOMO can be detrimental to your health. “The stress you feel from seeing how much more fun everyone else is having begins in a part of the brain called the amygdala” (Huffington Post). The amygdala is the part of the brain that deals with emotions. It will also trigger your “fight or flight” response when you feel threatened or scared. This response is exactly what the internal struggle of FOMO is debating between. Do you want to fight and resist the temptation to spend, or flee from the responsibility and party until the sun comes up?
Someone who is afraid of missing out is more likely to turn to social media during moments of anxiety and stress. This perpetuates the feeling of FOMO. It is a big circle that is leading absolutely nowhere! Jenny Giblin, a psychotherapist in New York, says “if you find yourself comparing yourself to others, feeling jealous or behind in life, remember that there is absolutely no reason why you cannot have those things, too, other than the thought that you can’t. And that’s all it is — literally just a thought” (Huffington Post). Those thoughts that turn into action can get you and your budget into a lot of trouble.
The average college student working part-time “makes $81 each week, while they spend an average of $18 to $25 a week on alcohol. This means some are spending up to 30 percent of their monthly income on alcohol alone” (The State Press). This study did not take into account the additional costs of a night out including: Uber, cover charges, and the inevitable 2 AM McDonald’s run. That could be around an extra $15-$30 depending on how many times a week you go out (or how many french fries you have). The troubling part is that college students and many adults are not adjusting their budget for their FOMO tendencies. This becomes apparent at the end of the month when rent is due. Whether you are in college or not, FOMO does not discriminate; it wants everyone. The good news is there are ways to end the FOMO phenomenon.
Here are 7 signs that FOMO may be hurting you financially.
- You are scared to check your bank account after a night out.
- You’ve had to choose between paying the electricity bill or grabbing a drink with friends. (hint: you picked the drink with friends)
- You throw away spoiled groceries every week because you go out to eat instead.
- You often compare yourself to others, including your finances.
- You have more credit card debt than savings.
- You sometimes have to try multiple cards at the checkout.
- You have lied to yourself or your spouse about your finances.
How Ditching FOMO saved my Budget
Alas! The question you have all been wondering… is FOMO curable and how do I change to account for my budget goals?!
I’m not a doctor, but I was able to cure my FOMO. After graduating from college, I started working full time. I was loving life until I got my first student loan statement. That’s when my FOMO was cured… haha no, but seriously. College was great for experiences I might never have again, but after college real life starts and the bills pile up. I made a plan to pay off as much of my student loan as possible in the first year. With that goal in mind, I was able to put $1,000 a month toward my debt and paid off over $12,000 in my first year. I can’t say for sure whether it was having a full-time job, most of my college friends moving away, or just growing up in general that cured my FOMO.
My fear of missing out has turned into my fear of losing myself. I have the tendency to run around like a chicken-with-my-head-cut-off taking on one too many commitments. My new objective is to focus on having more “me” time. I used to hate being alone, and now I crave it. I love curling up on the couch and watching my guilty pleasure shows (The Real Housewives and The Bachlorette). Mindfulness allows me to take a closer look within instead of focusing on what everyone around me is doing. It is not easy, especially with trying to keep up with our blog and grow our presence on social media.
Everyone knows people who proclaim these big budget goals and desires to be debt free, but then continue to go out and party every weekend. No matter how much they talk about it, they don’t walk the walk and can’t make their payments. At some point the desire to pay off debt and be financially secure needs to come before your FOMO and no one can make that decision but you.
Do you suffer from FOMO? How are you managing your budget with keeping a social life?