As millennials, social media is an enormous part of our lives. We wake up, we check our Facebook notifications. We get dressed, we take an #OOTD selfie for Instagram. We watch the latest reality TV show, we tweet about it. We go out to the club, we Snapchat the entire night from the pregame to the drunken cab journey home.
Have you ever thought about how social media affects your spending habits? That dress we see on a blogger…we order it. That must-have gadget that we see on Buzzfeed…we buy it. That lipstick that Kylie Jenner swears she wears? We buy it. Could social media be leading us into a lifestyle of overspending and debt?
Keeping up appearances
Before social media, you only had to keep up with your neighbors and colleagues. Now, it’s hundreds of thousands of people across the world. In your own circle, you’ll see Debbie from high school on Facebook with her brand-new Mercedes. Then you’ll go to Instagram, where you see that David from your office really enjoyed his night out with bottle service. Finally, you’ll stop off at Snapchat, where your cousin is showing off the spoils of her splurge at the mall on her story. So, to keep up, you’ll buy the new iPhone 7, or that pair of lust-worthy heels you saw on Instagram, and it makes you feel better until your next credit card statement arrives.
Fear of missing out – we’ve all experienced it. Your friends are going out for dinner tonight, but you can’t afford it. They’re also booking a girls trip to Vegas, not that you will be able to go, of course. Your brother and his fiancée are getting married in Hawaii, but don’t worry, you just have to pay for the airfare. So, every once in a while, the FOMO gets the better of you, and you spend. This translates to social media. Everyone you know seems to have something, so you have to buy it. Your friends and family also influence you by posting things on their feed.
Instagram is the devil. There, I said it. How does everyone’s life look so perfect? Oh, look, there’s that girl again. You know, the one who is the same age as you? Yet she travels the world with her boyfriend and their respective six-packs and seemingly endless supply of money. Whilst you sit at your desk, huddled over a microwave meal and putting every penny toward your rent. Why isn’t your life like that? So, you go on a shopping frenzy to make yourself feel better. Once again, you feel better until the bills arrive on your doorstep.
The fashion industry is the worst for this: influencer marketing. It works amazingly for brands, but it has a big effect on consumers. The brand will pick a product; send it to a social media ‘influencer’ and the influencer will promote it on their channel. Often, the influencer will have a discount code to encourage followers to spend. It works, because you see how amazing, let’s say, Khloe Kardashian looks after using a certain brand of protein shake. So, you buy it, too, in the hope you will look like that. What the post fails to reveal is she got that body from hours in the gym, not a protein shake once a day.
How to avoid the social media spending trap:
- Ask yourself with every purchase – Do I really need it? Can I afford it?
- Set a budget and stick to it – And Then We Saved’s Spending Diet is hardcore, but it works.
- Disconnect from social media once in a while, especially if you find yourself purchasing things mindlessly.
At the end of the day, you have to think what is more important – Your bank account? Or the opinions of people you don’t know?
Thoughts? Do you feel that social media influences your spending habits?
Leila Jones is a content writer living in the UK. She is guilty of spending as a result of social media, mostly on makeup, but is attempting to rein it in. You can follow Leila on Twitter @LeilaJones18.