Scrolling though your Instagram or Facebook feed can temporarily transport you to another place. Maybe one of your friends went to Greece recently and you fall into an album of beach pictures, white houses with blue roofs, and stunning views of the Mediterranean. Or maybe another friend has been documenting their meals at restaurants around town and you see plate after plate of organic, fresh, beautifully arranged food.
You might think, “These people are living the life! I want those things!” and decide to book a trip to Italy this summer. Or hey, why not try that new sushi place for dinner tonight?
Social media can be such a wonderful tool. You can stay in touch with people, and you can learn and explore lots of places from the comfort of your own couch.
However, it’s important to recognize when it’s having an adverse affect on your money. Don’t let the filtered view you’re getting of someone else’s lifestyle and spending influence your own.
Social Media Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be
Through our social media platforms, we can curate a life we want people to think we live. We invite people to look at our lives and our hobbies, how we spend our time. This constant deluge of where and what you’re eating, shopping, traveling, sightseeing, walking, etc., has become a phenomena that people argue back and forth about. It’s good, it’s bad. We’re reaching more people than ever before, yet, we’re more isolated than ever.
Luckily I’m here to ask the really important question: how does your social media consumption influence your finances? If the constant stream of perfect brunches, fast and shiny cars, trips to the Caribbean, or front row seats at the big game makes you feel like you need to keep up with the Joneses, your wallet will be literally paying the price.
Don’t let it happen to you! Don’t get sucked into debt or worsen what debt you may already have because you want to post the perfect picture of a morning mimosa. If you think you might be falling into a social media competition, try the following suggestions below to pull yourself back from the edge.
1) Take a Social Media Fast
If you’re someone who checks in on Facebook every time you get a coffee or a taco, pull back a bit. Try taking at least one full day off from all your social media outlets. Give yourself a total break.
Reminding yourself that your life is happening in front of your face and not behind a computer screen is very healthy. It’s also the best way to start spending for the life you’re already living, not the curated one you’re posting on Facebook.
2) Filter Your Feed
One of the great new features on Facebook allows you to hide posts from people you don’t want to see.
If you find yourself competing with a Facebook friend or two with your lifestyle choices, remove them from your immediate vicinity. It’s also helpful if your Facebook frenemy is someone you can’t unfriend for work or other reasons.
Simply hide their posts from your feed. You’ll protect yourself from getting competitive or from a fear of missing out if you don’t see what perfect picture they’re posting.
3) Remember That Everything is Probably Photoshopped
Well, maybe not Photoshopped, but actually, yeah, probably Photoshopped. There are a range of filters available on lots of platforms now, allowing people to control exactly how they look in all their photos. With tools like Photoshop and Canva so widely available now, you can never be sure when someone has whitened their teeth, smoothed out their skin, or made that sunset just a little brighter. Not everything is as it seems.
4) Focus on Your Goals
Social media is a tricky beast. On one hand it connects us all – we all get to be on the same platform. On the other hand, it divides us all – we don’t all get to use it in the same way.
I personally can’t post pictures of myself on the beach in Brazil because I can’t afford that trip. Seeing other people my age doing exciting things can be hard. I have to remind myself: their goals are not my goals.
My goals include paying off my student loans and saving money to move to my own apartment. I have a friend who wants to spend all her extra money on her wedding in a year. I have yet another friend who wants to spend every free weekend on a plane, traveling somewhere.
We all prioritize different things. I don’t let my friend’s “weekend in Vegas” pictures get to me, because I know I can make a huge loan payment with my money this month.
Give yourself a break and take a look at your own goals and life. You’ll probably find you’re doing a good job on the things that actually matter to you, not the things that get you the most “likes.” That’s all that matters.
Do you sometimes fall into the trap of letting social media influence your spending? How have you stopped the temptation?