In 2020, it’s common to have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love my community so much, but I’m also aware of how detrimental some aspects of social media can be to our mental, emotional and financial health.
While my personal belief is that when used wisely, social media is an incredibly positive part of our modern world, there are certain ways our daily scroll can be ruining our financial confidence.
1. Impulse spending
If you have Apple Pay or Google Pay on your phone, take it off right now! I know it’s super convenient, but it also means you can swipe up on a dress someone’s shared and part with your money without even putting your glass of wine down first.
Impulse buying on Instagram is rampant – believe me, I’ve been there myself. It comes back to that exposure problem we have. Once we see something, we HAVE to have it.
One solution is to unfollow brands and identities that you regularly get triggered by – though consider what other content you’re depriving yourself of, especially when it comes to influencers.
Unfollowing brands can definitely be helpful, because often it’s seeing a sale announcement that compels us to buy. But influencers and celebrities offer other content beyond stuff to buy (mostly). Instead of unfollowing, try increasing your barriers to purchase.
Remove Apple Pay from your phone, for starters. And if you know your card numbers by heart (I do, and it’s dangerous!), move your spending money to a card you don’t have memorised. If you’re really committed, you can cancel your card and order a new one.
Then, increase the number of steps it takes before you can purchase. Some routines you can put in place could be:
- Don’t purchase something until at least 48 hours after you first saw it
- Add the link to a wishlist and review it in a week
- Take a screenshot of the item and add it to a goals folder
Sometimes these small acts of semi-consuming the product can actually satisfy your need. You might even have forgotten about the item once the adrenaline has worn off.
2. Comparison spending
As the old saying goes, comparison is the thief of joy. It’s also the thief of money. Often we’ll be merrily going about our day, when we spot someone else going somewhere/doing something/buying something that triggers us.
For whatever reason, we spend to match up – or to soothe the wound that was picked at by seeing someone doing something we wish we could do.
For me, my comparison spending came in the form of body image issues. If I saw someone else looking thinner/prettier/more toned than I felt I was, I’d purchase something that I believed would level me up.
Recognising these triggers can save you money, plus a lot of emotional energy.
3. Financial guilt
In a similar vein to comparison, financial guilt can spark when we feel ashamed of our financial personality.
Sometimes, we’ll have an emotional response to seeing people on holidays or buying houses or cars – things that we’re not able to do. Whether we’re truly not financially capable of doing them, or whether we believe we’re not, doesn’t matter. Our brains will jump to berate us, blaming ourselves for why we’re not able to do all those things. This is particularly common for those paying down debt.
Often I’d think to myself ‘if I just didn’t have this credit card debt, I’d be able to do that’. This type of thinking puts a lot of ‘ifs’ into our mindset, and glamourises other people’s situations over our own.
Negative self blame around money isn’t healthy for our minds or our spending habits.
In addition to a damaged money mindset, it can trigger us to impulse spend to feel better, too, which puts into a cycle of impulse-comparison-guilt spending, without even realising.
Recognising these responses to things we see on social media is the first step in being able to enjoy our favourite apps without the hit to our money mindset. Once we notice them, we can begin to reduce and control our exposure to triggers, and ultimately heal our approach to spending so that we’re not one bit concerned with what everyone else is doing.
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