FOMO Spending: The Real-Life Cost of Spending Time on Social Media

Scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed, giggling when seeing those funny cats and their antics, letting out a heartfelt “Awwww” when stumbling upon a puppy, looking at the masterful pictures of sunsets, beaches or the Northern Lights is a lot of fun… until, at one point, it isn’t. Seeing that the people you follow on social media spend their time out drinking with their friends, traveling the world, snapping selfies on picture-perfect beaches and trying out products ranging from smartwatches to cars starts to leave a sour taste in your mouth. It gives you the feeling that you should be doing the same things, buying the same stuff they do. This is a widespread phenomenon today, and it also has a name: it’s called FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and, according to some estimates, it affects more than half of the internet user population. And it can cost you a lot of extra money.


The feeling of missing out on things and experiences conveyed by the use of social media is one of the many driving forces behind the users’ increased spending. Seeing all the things the others do and craving to have the same stuff can drive you to buy the latest flagship smartphone, designer clothes and boots, jewelry, and food. Moreover, social media can even increase the cost of your wedding by pushing you to buy this amazing dress from designer X, book that medieval castle, perhaps even organize your wedding in an exotic location inspired by the updates of those you follow online.

FOMO and Money

A survey conducted last year by UK-based credit score provider has shown that around a third of Brits overspend because of their FOMO, and that it affects millennials the most – more than half of those in this demographic reported overspending due to it. Over a quarter of the respondents have reported relying on credit to be able to keep up, and some of them even have trouble repaying this credit in the long run. “The pressures of social media, keeping up with friends and FOMO mean that we are at risk of spending a little too much,” managing director Jacqueline Dewey said. “FOMO spending can become a problem if people start to rely too heavily on credit”.

How to Avoid FOMO

One of the most important things to remember about social media is that people tend to use it to show off the best part of their lives, hiding their underlying problems. That foodie friend of yours might eat a fancy meal at a classy restaurant on weekends but may spend the rest of the week eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That Instagram model that snaps so many amazing pictures on a beach might sleep in a bug-ridden hostel on the outskirts of the resort. Try to look behind the catchy updates and to see the big picture.

Be selective with who you follow on social media, and overall, spend less time on it. Overusing social media might be at the root of your FOMO – spending more time away from it might just be the thing you need to reduce it. Instead, go out more with your friends, seek out your own experiences, and don’t be hard on yourself for staying in: we all need a bit of me-time sometimes. Just make sure not to overdo it. And whenever you go online and see those catchy updates and pictures, try to think whether you are actually missing out on anything. In most cases, the answer will be “No”.

This way, you’ll take the first step toward eliminating a major source of anxiety from your life, along with the constant urge to overspend.

Marie Foster
Marie Foster
Marie Foster is a reporter based in UK. Marie has also worked as a columnist for the various news sites.


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