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If You Think FOMO Is Making You Broke, You're On The Money

Why is having fun so expensive?

28/07/2016 6:40 AM AEST | Updated July 30, 2016 06:41
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It's called a budget. And you need one.

Many studies have shown just how much FOMO (fear of missing out) affects our mental health, but have you ever stopped to consider how much it's affecting your wealth? Partying, travelling and attending events are all costly pursuits. Yet, in our ongoing mission to experience as much as everyone else, we may be spending more than we should.

In a 2015 Australian study by Eventbrite, more than two-thirds of Australians admitted to suffering from FOMO driven by social media. Furthermore, most revealed that in 2016 they planned to see more, do more and spend more on entertainment.

But when does it become a problem? And how can we curb this to avoid getting into financial strife?

Cara Brett is the director of Bounce Financial, which specialises in financial advice for Gen Y and Gen X. She said that FOMO is definitely affecting people's back pockets.

"With social media, it's so easy to see what others are doing in real time, which almost super charges any FOMO that people may have," she said. "It can be difficult because everyone's financial situation is totally different, but sometimes there can be an unspoken expectation that everyone should be able to do everything at all times."

Because of this, Brett notes that excuse of 'saving money' no longer seems acceptable. Add into the mix peer pressure and it can be a recipe for financial disaster.

"With easy access to cash through credit cards and payday loans, some people can get deep into a debt cycle trying to keep up with it all," she said. "But, the deeper you get, the harder it is to get out of."

Bessie Hassan, a money expert at finder.com.au, echoes Brett's sentiments, and adds that FOMO can drive poor financial decisions, even in the case of property.

"If someone's bidding at an auction and they have their heart set on a property, FOMO may mean that they bid 10-15 percent over their bidding limit," she said. "While this may not seem like much on the day, this extra 10-15 percent will accumulate interest charges over the life of a mortgage."

So, what are the signs that indicate FOMO is negatively affecting your wealth?

Both experts agree that increasing credit limits or applying for additional credit cards, whether it's to pay for a concert ticket, or pay for groceries because you've given in to FOMO, is one of the first signs that there's a problem. Defaulting on mortgage payments or bills also suggests that your priorities are wrong.

In order to get your finances back on track, Hassan recommends creating a budget that suits your lifestyle.

"You can use online tools and resources such as calculators which can help you understand things such as your borrowing capacity and what your future repayments may be when taking out a home loan," she said.

For those more concerned with the here and now, Brett advises creating a budget that incorporates 'fun spending money'.

"There's nothing wrong with spending money on fun stuff, it just needs to be accounted for," she said. "Have a weekly amount allocated that suits your budget and your income, and ensure that you don't go over it."

"If you know that you have an awesome festival coming up, make sure you're putting aside some of your fun spending money to pay for the tickets."

If you still find that your budget is not enough to cover your lifestyle, try considering areas where you can shrink your expenses to free up more cash. For example, if you haven't been using your gym membership, then it may be time to cancel. Or if you've been exceeding your monthly mobile data limit, avoid streaming online.

If you're already in deep as far as financial debt goes, Brett advises writing down all of your expenses throughout the year, along with your debt, and coming up with a payment schedule.

"The last thing you want to do is be paying off credit cards for the next 25 years, so make sure they are a priority," she said. "It might mean you need to go without in the short term, but once you get yourself out from under it, you can set yourself up so that you get the best of both worlds going forward."

Hassan agrees that when it comes to long-term budgeting, you need to be disciplined and get into good financial habits.

"This could involve making regular deposits into a high-interest savings account by setting up an automatic transfer each month," she said. "This also means being proactive about your financial products to make sure you're getting competitive deals."

However, above all else she advises learning from your mistakes.

"Take the time to understand where and how you went wrong, and do everything you can to prevent this from happening again," she said.

Australians have reported finances as causing the most stress in their life. So FOMO could, in turn, be having an impact on your health as well, and it's time to take action.

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Jo Hartley is a freelance writer for Open Colleges, one of Australia's leading online education providers.

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