You're scrolling through Instagram and see your friends' latest pics from a glorious beach vacation. "I want to be there," you think. On Facebook, you hear the news of your friends buying a new house or upgrading to the latest iPhone. While all of these things may seem innocuous on the surface, social media could be affecting you more than you think.
Social networks can be a great way to stay in touch with family and friends but it can also give you a serious case of FOMO—fear of missing out.
You are inundated with images and information about what everyone else is doing. It's easy to feel like you need to participate to keep up, or else risk missing out.
Through social networks, you are a consumer of information and that can affect the way you think and feel. If you've ever felt depressed or jealous after going on social media, you know what I'm talking about.
All of these factors may inadvertently lead you to spending more and being a mindless consumer—of both information and things.
How social media can lead you to spend more
You've probably heard the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses"—now the Joneses are everywhere. They're no longer your wealthy neighbor or a rich friend, but they're your friends and family posting on Facebook about their latest consumer prize or five-star vacation.
As humans, we naturally want to fit in, so when we see everyone posting this kind of stuff it's easy to want to spend more.
Consciously or unconsciously you might be tempted to upgrade your life so you too can make it more post-worthy.
Aside from posts from friends and family, there is the advertising aspect that can't be ignored. Social networks know an absurd amount of information about you and can target their advertisements to encourage you to spend.
Whether you realize it or not, social networks can play an important role in your consumer habits and your money mindset.
If you're looking to manage your money better, pay off debt or boost your savings, it's important to realize how these social networks may affect you so you can take steps to keep your finances on track.
How to spend less money
Wondering how to spend less money and lessen temptation? First, realize that social media is only the highlight reel. Sure, you may see fancy vacations or new homes, but you don't know what the financial situation really is.
They could be mired in debt or living paycheck to paycheck. You truly don't know, so don't compare your situation to someone else's.
Secondly, focus on making your experience about quality, not quantity. If you're like most users on Facebook or Instagram, you've probably been sucked into the vortex a few times, wondering how many hours have passed.
One of the best budgeting tips to help avoid temptation is to limit the ads you see. You can also use something like AdBlock Plus to block ads you see around the web.
By using these tools and resources, you can be a more mindful social network user as well as a more mindful consumer.
Social media is a marketer's world and we just live in it. You might not think it has an affect on your finances, but in subtle or not-so-subtle ways it can influence your thoughts, feelings, and habits. Limiting your time on social networks and using smart budgeting tips can help you keep your finances in good shape.