Humans evolved to be social creatures – so it’s no surprise that we don’t like missing out. And with the rise of social media it can sometimes seem like the whole world is off having a great time. Parties, drinks, holidays and shopping sprees. Who could blame us for wanting a piece of the action? But there’s a fine line between having fun and facing a financial hangover in the morning. If you’re struggling to save money it might be worth questioning whether the fear of missing out (FOMO) could be affecting your finances.
Recognising the Problem
Many of us start each month with good intentions. Payday hits and we’re rich! We start saying yes to every social invitation. We offer to buy rounds of drinks at the bar. A friend’s pictures from Tenerife pop up on Facebook and we find ourselves googling beaches and bikinis. We realise our mobile contract is ending and start eyeing up a newer model. Our bank balance is healthy and life is good. After all, what’s the point of working so hard if you don’t get to enjoy the rewards? If we’re lucky at the end of the month there might even be some money left to transfer to a savings account.
A couple of weeks later things aren’t looking quite so optimistic. We wined and dined and had a great time, but once rent and bills had been paid the balance swiftly dropped. We put down a hefty deposit for a spontaneous trip abroad. We went shopping to buy a dress for a friend’s wedding and ended up with three dresses and a pair of heels. We still thought that £50 could be saved… but then we had to attend a colleague’s leaving party and an old friend invited us out for brunch. It would have been rude not to go. Suddenly those savings have vanished into thin air.
Do you recognise any elements of the above in your own spending habits? If so, FOMO may be affecting your finances.
10 Ways to Defeat FOMO:
1) Set a budget and monitor your expenses – If you find that you often end up wondering “Where does all the money go?” it can be worth working backwards to find out. Several apps allow you to categorise your spending retrospectively and you can use the results to create your own personal spending pie chart. Once you know what you spend now it’s time to decide what you’ll spend in the future. Amending the values on your pie chart allows you to easily create this future view. To help you to stay on track you can often set reminders when you’re close to meeting a threshold for a particular category of spend. I personally find Monzo really helpful and have historically also used Yolt.
2) Pay yourself first – One of the simplest ways to save money is to pay yourself first. Set up an automated transfer to a savings account right after payday. This ensures that you’re putting away a bit of money each month before you even realise you have it available! This is one of my favourite methods to save and one I always follow myself.
3) Reduce time on social media – Limiting your usage of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and any other social media is one of the best ways to reduce FOMO. It’s also a good way to feel more satisfied with what you do have rather than feeling the need to compete with others.
4) Budget for the unexpected – When you create your budget be sure to set aside a separate contingency pot for any unexpected events that may crop up. Find yourself needing even more money? Set a rule that you’ll only exceed one area of spending if you know you can cut back in another area.
5) Find free/cheap activities – Sometimes the best social events can be the cheapest. Whether it’s a spontaneous picnic in the park or a weekend camping in Wales, it’s usually the people who make an event one to remember. Many cities have websites that list free events and Eventbrite is also worth a look.
6) Reduce your food and drink spending – One of the easiest ways to limit FOMO while still saving money is to simply reduce how much you’re spending while you’re out and about. Many events will have entry costs attached, but food and drink spend is almost entirely optional. Once you become conscious of this it’s amazing how little you can spend on a night out. I typically eat before I go and stick to buying a maximum of two alcoholic drinks before switching to soft drinks or mocktails. For those who prefer to drink more you may wish to recreate University style pre-drinking sessions or keep an eye out for happy hour deals. I’d also highly recommend trying to go on a night out completely sober. Both my sister and I now rarely drink alcohol and haven’t missed it at all. Along with saving money you’ll save yourself a headache the next day and I often find that I’m the person with the most energy at the end of the night. You may be surprised at how much you don’t miss alcohol!
7) Socialise at home – I’m a big fan of socialising at home and generally find it preferable to going out. Events you could throw include movie nights, board game nights, BBQs, bring and share evenings or even dinner parties. If you live in a house share then invite your housemates along and you may even build some new friendships along the way. Food and drink costs are greatly reduced and your friends will likely reciprocate in the future.
8) Resist the temptation to upgrade – If your phone contract is nearing its end but your old phone is still in good working order you should see this as the perfect opportunity to reduce your outgoings. Still tempted to upgrade to an expensive model? Question why it is that you feel it? Is a top end model really worth the additional cost when a budget version has 85% of the same features? Always bear in mind the total cost over the whole length of the contract when weighing up your options. Personally, I have never spent more than £200 on a phone and I’ve never felt that I’ve missed out.
9) Preplan activities – Planning ahead allows you to budget more effectively and may also save you money with early-bird deals. Many events will sell their first batches of tickets at a lower rate, so being organised will quite literally pay off!
10) Embrace the ‘Joy of Missing Out ‘ (JOMO) – JOMO is defined as a “feeling of contentment with one’s own pursuits and activities, without worrying over the possibility of missing out on what others may be doing”. Rather than focusing on what others are spending their time on, why not find a way to enjoy your time alone. Whether you decide to go for a hike, read a book, practice a hobby or simply watch Netflix, by practising mindfulness techniques you can find enjoyment in the simpler things.
Do you have any other techniques for helping with FOMO? Please share them in the comments!