Look, it’s no secret that FOMO is f*cking real, but did anyone know that one in four women spends more in the summer because of FOMO? I sure as f*ck didn’t, but a new report from MassMutual is saying just that. I deactivated my Instagram account back in January, and despite writing a self-congratulatory article about how it made me a better person, I did not stick to my guns. I reactivated my IG, and as much as I love revisiting my saved inventory of puppy videos, my FOMO is officially off the charts. I almost forgot what FOMO was because I couldn’t actually see my friends frolicking in the Hamptons without me because I was/am too poor to go. Now, it causes me physical pain to see my friends having fun as I sit in the discomfort of my un-air conditioned apartment, because I can actually see what I’m missing out on.
FOMO has most definitely always been real, it just didn’t have a name (and an acronym) until recently. That said, “largely due to the rise of social media, FOMO has been amplified this past decade,” says Amanda Wallace, head of insurance operations with MassMutual. But because I refuse to let FOMO keep me from having a good time, I totally feed into it—especially in the summertime—and pour all of my hard-earned cash into the ridiculous weekend plans my friends hatch up. There goes literally all of my money! And I’m not the only one who falls victim to FOMO spending, especially this time of year. Wallace adds, “Summer vacations are in full effect, back to fall shopping kicks into gear, and it is sometimes hard to resist when you see what everyone else is doing on social media.” Preach.
In short, Instagram FOMO is making us spend money we don’t really have. Not to worry, though. Wallace has some tips, stats, and comments up her financial sleeve that can help us survive the last weeks of summer. Your wallet will thank you, even if your IG feed won’t.
How Is FOMO Hurting Our Bank Accounts?
Well, unfortunately for everyone who doesn’t live a Succession-worthy lifestyle, yes. Doing things with your friends is really expensive because we never want to just, like, hang out at someone’s apartment and talk (look at memes). No. We want to go to the restaurant where Beyoncé just ate and chase that experience with $15 cocktails that look amazing in pictures and match our outfits.
Wallace says, “FOMO is absolutely influenced by social media and seeing photos of others’ positive experiences (whether real or staged). However, have you considered the fact that you do not see the whole picture when you see that amazing photo on social media?” *takes deep, introspective breath* Yes, I’ve definitely considered that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a part of this completely fake, staged BS. However, because I’m considering filing for bankruptcy, I can’t really live this fake, staged lifestyle for much longer.
How Can We Satisfy Our FOMO Without Spending Money?
“Retrospect is a gift for future considerations and experiences. Weigh your options, your budget, and be creative,” Wallace advises. Be sure to make thoughtful decisions and set some spending limits when it comes to FOMO-induced impulses,” Okay, she also has a good point. I’m currently thinking of that time I spent a casual $200 on dinner on a f*cking Tuesday, and the only thing I remember about it is how much money I spent. I honestly couldn’t even tell you who I went with. But Wallace is right in that retrospect is a gift. If I’m in a similar situation again, I can look back on my past $200 Tuesday experience and say hell f*cking no. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it should not be worth a thousand dollars.
If you want to keep hanging out with your friends but don’t want to keep dropping Benjamins, as Wallace says, you’ll have to get creative. Luckily, since this is the summertime, all you need for a good IG backdrop is natural lighting, which abounds in the summer. Don’t want to spend $20 on one rooftop cocktail? Corral your friends for a BYOB picnic in the park. Take some thirst traps on the beach. You get the point: the beauty of the warm weather is that standing outside is aesthetically pleasing and free!
Why Is Summer Such A Hard Time For FOMO-Sufferers?
Summer is the only time of year I am even remotely social, especially in New York. Being outside isn’t physically painful, I can walk everywhere, and I can show my legs without blinding people with my paleness. Summer is the time of year when people actually want to do things, but with that come more FOMO opportunities. All this makes me think that all Instagram is good for is horrible photo editing and making people jealous of your fun plans. That can’t be good for anyone’s general mental health, can it?
Spoiler: it’s not good for your mental health, but that’s not the only side effect. While studies have shown a direct connection between FOMO and mental health issues, one emerging way it’s impacting people is with their finances—especially during the summer. Again, not surprising since summer is the one time people enjoy doing things outside their homes. Wallace says, “Our research found that this is especially prevalent during the summer months when we tend to prioritize more costly experiences like vacations and day trips rather than our financial goals, which can leave some feeling stressed and regretful.”
Stressed and regretful is my natural state, so I can definitely relate to this sentiment, but for people who have a more positive approach to life, feeling negative sh*t like this is a downer.
What Can We Do?
At the end of the day, FOMO sucks and no one likes it. It sucks feeling left out, but so does forking over money to partake in an activity you’re only doing #forthegram. It would be cool if we weren’t so affected by FOMO—both financially and emotionally—but we live in a society ruled by social media, so what can we do to not let FOMO ruin our lives? It’s actually pretty simple. Create a FOMO fund! That’s right. Wallace says, “To some, a FOMO fund is the new lingo for discretionary income or ‘fun money.’ As you use a FOMO fund, you need to make sure you are prioritizing alongside paying down debt and saving for emergencies, retirement or other life events.”
Basically this just comes down to budgeting. Don’t go into debt just to “keep up” with the people you see on Instagram. (It sounds obvious, and yet, people do it.) There’s got to be a balance. You can go to Mykonos, but maybe not this summer. I promise you that, as much as they make it look like it, these influencers did not just pack up one day and decide to go there for 12 days. They probably started planning and saving beforehand. And if you start a FOMO fund and quit blowing your money on every random Instagram opportunity, you can do it too.
Images: Giphy (4); Melissa Popanicic / Unsplash