If you have a smartphone (and who doesn’t at this point), you’ve probably visited a social media app. These platforms allow individuals to present curated versions of their lives; users post luxurious locations, gourmet meals, and daily latte pictures in order to portray a specific image of themselves. For those of us who aren’t paid for using these apps, either in the form of sponsored content or brand deals, these lifestyles might appear effortless and easily achievable. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is real, and it’s a slippery slope when it comes to personal finances. Take, for example, Lissette Calveiro, a 26-year-old woman who felt pressured to keep up a glamorous social media presence after moving to New York City. She splurged frequently on brunches with friends and expensive clothes to take the perfect photos for her 12,000 Instagram followers. Meanwhile, her internship was unpaid, so she attempted to fund this lifestyle with nothing but a part-time retail job. As a result, she found herself nearly $10,000 in debt. Don’t be like Lissette.
So, here’s how to indulge the luxury trap without completely falling for it. Moderation is key, so limit your luxuries to “once in a while,” or every few weeks. If you have to do it for social media content (it sounds dumb, but this is one of the biggest drivers of FOMO spending), take dozens of photos in different settings and under different lighting. You’ll get the content you need, and you’ll be able to spread it out over the course of several weeks. By consuming in moderation, you’ll also gain more appreciation for your moments of luxury—that $15 cocktail will feel more special if you can only buy it once each month.
Another way to indulge luxury FOMO? Prioritize. While taking a 9-hour flight in business class might make for a fun story and a great Instagram post, spending thousands of dollars for a short, likely boring experience is not a smart decision. Instead, settle for a $6 latte or a Bloody Mary with brunch. While smaller expenses will add up over time, it makes more financial sense to get the $6 Sunday latte instead of the $1,000 business class flight.
If you have social media FOMO and want to live a life of luxury, don’t compromise your financial security for a shot at Instagram fame. Instead, indulge smartly and in moderation—you’ll enjoy your purchases more and save money in the meantime.