Master Debt

4 Ways FOMO Busts Your Budget, and How to Stop It From Happening

You’ve likely heard the phrase “fear of missing out” — or FOMO, as it’s often called — before, but other than the fact that this feeling is a nuisance, you might not have thought too much more about the issue.

In today’s social media obsessed world, there are more ways than ever for us to focus on spending money we might not have, all thanks to FOMO. From Instagram and Facebook to Twitter and Snapchat, everywhere we turn, we are confronted with the things that our friends are doing and buying, and our FOMO puts us in very real danger of busting our budgets. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to combat the urge to spend money when FOMO rears its ugly head. Here are four common FOMO-inducing scenarios, with suggestions on what to do when you encounter them.

Scenario 1: You recently had your first child, and your college roommate won’t stop posting photos of her own adorable kids in the cutest clothes you’ve ever seen.
The danger: Spending more money on your own child’s (undoubtedly already full) wardrobe.
What to do instead: As a parent, there are a seemingly endless number of possibilities when it comes to overspending on our kids. If reminding yourself that your kid will outgrow that adorable onesie and designer brand shoes in about one month doesn’t stop you from wanting the buy them, consider setting up a kids’ product swap with your close friends. Ask everyone to show up to your house with five or so kids’ items that they would be willing to swap out in exchange for similar items from someone else. Not only does this give you an opportunity to keep in touch, but it gives you all a chance to try out new (to you) kids’ clothes and products without spending a fortune to do so.

Scenario 2: You can’t remember the last time you took a real vacation, and your co-worker can’t stop sharing Facebook updates about her splashy getaway to Greece.
The danger: Pulling the trigger on an expensive, last-minute trip of your own.
What to do instead: Whether wanderlust is something you deal with on a daily basis, or seeing photographic evidence of your co-worker’s envy-inducing trip has triggered it, now is the perfect time to take some proactive steps so that your own amazing vacation can become a reality … once you’re prepared. To start, set a timeline for when it really makes sense to take a trip, based on your work and personal calendar, allowing enough time for saving and potentially taking advantage of discounts when traveling during off-season times. Once you have a timeline in mind, open a new savings account and name it after your destination, then siphon off a certain amount of money from each paycheck (as well as any bonus and gift money) into it based on an estimated budget for what the trip will cost. This is a smart way to be proactive about something you deserve — a vacation — while avoiding the downside of taking one prematurely — a busted budget.

Scenario 3: Your neighbors invited you over for dinner to show off their fancy new kitchen remodel.
The danger: That chipped paint and those drafty windows in your own home suddenly seem unbearable.
What to do instead: If you have multiple projects in mind — or even one project that would be very expensive — set a timeline to start work that will allow you to research and save. Start by looking into which projects will net you the most value on your home when it comes time to sell, and consider if you can handle doing any of the work yourself to save some cash. If not, start asking around for recommendations on good contractors, get some quotes and, most importantly, start saving. This plan allows you to be proactive about your home projects — which will be very satisfying — while also taking the time to properly research the best way to move forward, financially.

Scenario 4: You follow all of your favorite brands on Instagram, and they all post the most amazing product updates that you have to have.
The danger: Buying your 8th throw pillow.
What to do instead: If unfollowing the companies (out of sight, out of mind) isn’t an option, a more realistic (and more fun) way to combat this common FOMO issue is to set aside a certain amount of money in your monthly budget for “fun” items, like home goods that you come across online. The trick to making this hack work is that once you spend that allotted amount each month, you then need to wait until the following month to buy anything else in that category. This is a great way to allow yourself the freedom of purchasing items that bring you happiness without overspending, and it’s also a good way to make sure you actually want the item in question, rather than just adding it to your cart because it popped up in your Instagram feed.

Combatting FOMO starts with recognizing that it’s real, and rather than ignoring it — which likely won’t help, anyway — it’s better to come up with fun alternatives that boost both your lifestyle and your bottom line.

Santander Bank does not provide financial, tax or legal advice and the information contained in this article does not constitute tax, legal or financial advice. Santander Bank does not make any claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this article. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax advisors regarding any financial strategies mentioned in this article. These materials are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Santander Bank.

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