How social media affects our spending habits

How social media affects our spending habits

Social media has introduced many positive aspects to our lives. Without Facebook, for example, how would you know if a childhood friend you haven't seen in 10 years got married? And what would you watch before bed without those funny cat posts on Instagram? And how would you stay in the loop with the latest world news without Twitter?

While most of us can't imagine life without social media — and rightfully so, given its role in keeping us connected with the world — many overlook its influence on our bank accounts. Sometimes, navigating social media without the urge to make an unplanned purchase is challenging. But don't worry, you're not alone. 

In this article, we'll explore how social media affects our spending habits and determine whether it makes us spend more money.

The FOMO phenomenon

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is when you feel stressed or worried because you think others are having more fun, living a better life, or experiencing exciting things you don't want to miss out on.  

This phenomenon can lead people to make decisions based on what others share on social media, and when the concept of FOMO is applied to money, it can result in overspending.

For example, seeing pictures of your friends trying out a recently opened restaurant might spark your interest in visiting the place too, even if you happened to pass by that restaurant a few days ago without much thought. This illustrates how social media can influence you to spend money on things you didn't realise you want or need.

Popular products

Have you ever bought something because it kept popping up on social media? This is another way social media platforms can push you to spend more money.

When a product becomes widely popular on social media, you may be tempted to buy it. You might even start convincing yourself that you need it and can't imagine life without it, believing it will somehow change your life!

Consider this example: even though it does the same job as a regular vacuum cleaner, the widely known robot vacuum comes at a significantly higher cost!

It's important to remember that products gain their popularity from people, and others' attitudes might influence your purchasing decisions. For example, when you come across numerous positive comments or reviews about a particular product, it can sway you into trusting the company and believing in the product's quality.

The problem here is that these products usually lose their popularity over time. When that happens, you might forget about them in some corner of your home, and unfortunately, the money you spent won't come back.

Social pressure and keeping up with friends 

Unfortunately, social media has made it easier for us to compare ourselves to others. We see our friends posting pictures of their luxurious vacations, new cars, and expensive clothes, and we can't help but feel the urge to have what they have so that we don't feel less than them. This can lead us to make purchases that may not have been a priority. After all, who wants to be the only one without the latest iPhone?

Trying to match someone else's lifestyle may affect your money management. This is because your financial situation is unique, and trying to keep up with others might lead to financial decisions that don't fit your own circumstances, potentially leaving you in uncontrollable debt.

Ads everywhere

Have you ever Googled something and then noticed an ad for the same thing you were searching for when you opened social media? If you're trying to figure out how Instagram or TikTok can affect your finances, targeted ads are one of the ways.

Social media platforms come with terms and conditions that you must agree to when signing up. This allows the platform to collect and store data about your interests and track your activities on these sites. This data is then used to predict products and services you find appealing and likely to purchase. As a result, personalised ads are shown according to your preferences. Yes, sometimes it feels like they know us better than we know ourselves!

Every day, we may encounter up to 10,000 ads on social media. The more enticing an ad, the more tempting it becomes to click on and purchase. So, if you're trying to avoid overspending, social media ads could be the main barrier to your success.

Also, don't forget that social media apps provide an easier and quicker shopping experience. You can buy a product without leaving the app! This makes spending more money easier too.

Falling into influencers' traps 

Many companies rely on social media influencers to promote their products or services by sharing posts on their pages, which typically have many followers.

The role of influencers is to promote their lifestyle. So, it's only natural that they want you to buy the products they endorse. Otherwise, they won't be able to make a living.

Influencer ads are everywhere on social media, making avoiding them difficult, which can lead to impulsive spending. For example, you might see your favourite beauty influencer promoting a new lipstick worth 50 JOD or a dress for 500 JOD and decide to buy it to feel beautiful.

What you may not know is that influencers are paid to promote products on their pages, even though they haven't bought these items themselves. This makes social media a trap for overspending.

The bottom line

We live in an era of instant gratification. We want what we want, and we want it now. Social media has amplified these desires, making attaining everything easier. This can lead us to make impulsive purchases without considering the long-term consequences. But don't worry. There are ways to resist temptation! Each time you're on the verge of buying something, take a deep breath, put your phone aside, and ask yourself if the buying decision aligns with your values and priorities.

You might find the 30-day rule beneficial. When you see something you want to buy, wait 30 days to decide if you truly need it. After this period, you might discover that you don't need it, saving you money!

If you're having trouble controlling your spending, try unfollowing certain brands or influencers and reducing the time you spend scrolling through social media platforms.

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