Have you ever felt pressured into spending money? I’m sure 99.99% of us answered yes. And I’m also going to guess that the most common reason behind that pressure is because your friends are planning or buying something you want in on. The fear of missing out is real. And it’s powerful.

Here’s an example…

Garth Brooks did a nine-concert stand here in Edmonton and it was all everyone could talk about for a while. Am I a Garth Brooks fan, nope? Did I almost convince myself I should buy tickets to the show just because EVERYONE else was going? Absolutely! But I was talked off the Ticketmaster ledge by my more rational minded (aka. more country music hating) friend. And when the concert dates arrived was everyone raving about how amazing he was and flooding my social media accounts with pictures. You know it. Am I sad I didn’t get to experience it? Not so much.

I find that more often than not, you aren’t really that disappointed when you skip out on something you didn’t have much desire to participate in anyways. If you desperately want something, then yes, do everything you can to make it happen. But if you’re feeling indifferent, that’s a sure sign it doesn’t deserve your hard-earned dollars.

Fear of Missing Out Stats

Fear of missing out is a thing, it has its own acronym (FOMO) and search #FOMO anywhere on social media, and you’ll be inundated with results. RateHub actually completed a study and discovered some pretty staggering results:

  • 26% of Canadians have experienced FOMO (and that jumps to 48% when you focus just on millennials)
  • 70% of Canadians believe 25% of their debt is because of FOMO
  • 50% of millennials feel FOMO when on social media

But Why?

Humans are competitive. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone given our mild obsession with handing out awards and playing (or watching) professional sports. Being the best used to be a matter of life or death (way, way back when) and those survival instincts have stuck with us even when the stakes aren’t so high. Now it’s almost the opposite. We push ourselves so hard to live up to the ideals set forth by others that we might not even know that it affects us emotionally, physically and financially.

The stat from the above survey results that really stands out to me is that 70% of Canadians can attribute 25% of their debt to FOMO! Going into debt to keep up with your friends, neighbours, internet acquaintances, whoever, is not ok. Let’s all make a deal right now that we’re not going to do that anymore ok? Spending money that you should be saving is one thing, but charging a FOMO experience to your credit card is bad news. Not only will it cost you the upfront charge but you also need to factor in the 18%+ interest rate you’ll be charged for every month you’re playing catch-up. There are very few things in life worth taking on consumer debt for.

The Social Media Curse

It’s not just about money. People (myself included) are hooked on social media and staying up to date on all the latest news. FOMO can lead to unrealistic expectations of what your life should be. Everyone knows that no one’s life is as perfect or exciting as it looks on Instagram but we still compare ourselves to those edited posts of other people’s daily lives.

Take a gander at your own posts. Is it an authentic portrayal of how you live? Or is it more likely a recap of the highlights with none of the lows? I have no problem with people posting those pictures, but I just have to remind myself that everyone is in the same boat and only let you see what they want you to see…so stop comparing!

How to overcome FOMO

Turning off your fear of missing out can be a challenge. However, there are a few tricks you can use to change your mindset and be more satisfied with your own life.

Set Goals

Specific savings goals are a saviour for me when it comes to sticking to a plan. I need something to look forward to. Knowing exactly what I’m setting aside money for makes it that much easier to say no to spending. If I can say to myself, no Sarah, if you spend your money on this stupid thing you won’t be able to do this super awesome thing in the future, I’m way more likely to stay strong.

Having a stable budget can also help dissuade you from spontaneous spending. And don’t forget to factor ‘fun money’ into your budget. If you know you have a set amount of money to spend on entertainment, clothing, food, etc. then you’ll know when you can and can’t afford to splurge a little. It will also avoid that feeling of deprivation that can come for limiting yourself too much.

Take a Social Media Vacation

Being flooded with people talking about an upcoming concert or wearing an article of clothing you just HAVE to have is not going to help you convince yourself to go without. Give yourself a break and do something to distract yourself (that doesn’t involve spending money). Take your dog for a walk, have a nice long bath, read a book, or binge watch a new TV show. Distracting yourself is key. And turn off your phone, even if it’s just for a few hours. Not seeing the notifications going off will make it easier to stay checked out.

Shutting off the outside world and exploring a little self-care can do wonders for your mental health. You’ll be able to reconnect with the parts of your life you love and be less concerned with what everyone else is doing.

Read for Inspiration

Have you ever read a book on personal finance and been suddenly inspired to cut your spending and start saving for retirement? My hands up! This happens to me all the time and not even just for personal finance. I’ve read ‘Born to Run‘ by Christopher McDougall and started running way more than I ever had before. And I am not a runner. I also read ‘The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up‘ by Marie Kondo and started cleaning out my closet before I finished the first chapter.

Sometimes a little push from a good book is all you need to change your mindset. If there is a specific area of your life you’re looking to improve then find a book that fits the bill. Reading can be incredibly motivating, and it’s a productive way to spend your time.

Like-Minded Friends

One of the biggest influences on our spending habits is our friendships, and this is especially true for millennials. If you spend most of your time with friends who value frugality then you yourself will spend less. And the opposite is also true. If your closest friends are constantly eating out, going to concerts, and travelling, you’ll feel extra pressure to keep up.

Now I’m not suggesting you banish spendthrift friends completely. There are ways you can limit spending without destroying friendships. Maybe suggest a girls night in instead of heading out for cocktails? Or hit up free local festivals instead of spending a fortune on concert tickets? I bet your friends will welcome the chance to save some money, and you won’t have to sacrifice fun.

Do you guys find that the fear of missing out impacts what you do? Or have you figured out ways to cope with it?

Keeping up with the Joneses is expensive! Find out how to conquer the fear of missing out.
This post was proofread by Grammarly.


  1. Take a social media vacation is a good one! Most of my FOMO comes from twitter/FB. I mean, my job is to take people to and from vacation and that doesn't bother me at all…it is the pics of fancy hotels, white sand beaches, and cocktails that gets me going. Of course, it's hard to duck it when everyone is talking about how awesome the shows are. Hmmm…maybe you just need an all new set of friends who hate Garth Brooks. 😉

  2. Social media is a big one for me too, but I am surprised to hear you can keep it in check with your job. Travelling so much but not getting the vacation part would really get to me. I'm also not a big fan of flying so that wouldn't help 😉

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