Don’t Fall Into the Instagram Money Trap — Here’s How To Get Rid of FOMO

More than two billion people bought goods or services online in 2020, totaling more than $4.2 trillion worldwide. Some of that spending is coming directly from apps many never had the intention of buying from — like Instagram and TikTok. According to a recent survey conducted by Adweek-Morning Consult, 49% of TikTok users said they’ve purchased something after seeing it advertised, promoted or reviewed on the app. 41% of people said they’ve purchased something after seeing it on Facebook.

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It’s hard to avoid al  the advertising we’re bombarded with online — particularly on social media where items are made to look so appealing, and the option to buy is so easy. If you’re finding that you’re swiping up a little too often, here are some tips to avoid the urge.

“Limited Time Only” Is a Lie

It’s true that stores have holiday sales that come to an end, but most of the time, phrases like “stock is running low” or “limited time only” are used to create a sense of urgency and  get you to  buy more stuff. And if a retailer claims they’re slashing prices, check around to ensure that they’re even offering a deal. Sometimes businesses will tell you the “value” of an item but they may have never sold it for that amount to begin with. 

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If a vendor really means for something to be sold for a limited time, there will often be a publicized end date. Check the fine print if you can’t find it immediately. Otherwise, feel free to take some time to really evaluate if you need the purchase, and make sure you have the money to cover it without worrying that the once-in-a-lifetime offer will expire.

Important: How COVID-19 Changed Gen Z’s Perspective on Money

Make an Online Shopping Budget

If packages are showing up to your house and you can’t remember what they are, consider making a shopping budget. This way, you can still shop online, but once you hit a certain amount, you can know when to stop giving in to online ads. This allows you to give more consideration to the items you’re buying knowing that there is a finite amount you can spend the month. Knowing that your “swipe up” impulse purchases have been accounted for may reduce some of the guilt you might feel after shopping online — and you may enjoy your purchases more. 

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Don’t Save Your Financial Information

Part of the reason why online shopping is so addicting is because it’s so easy. When our billing and shipping information is conveniently saved on our phones and computers, huge purchases can be made in seconds.

One hack is to have your devices not remember your payment information, and clearing out what’s already stored. That extra step of getting out your wallet or trying to find your purse might make you rethink the next “miracle face mask” you buy.

Read: 34% of Gen Z Is Learning Personal Finance From TikTok and YouTube, Survey Finds

Give Yourself a Waiting Period

This tip can actually be fun because it allows you to fill your cart with reckless abandon. However, after you fill your cart, resist the urge to immediately hit “buy.” Give yourself 48 hours before committing to the purchase. Many times, you’ll totally forget what you put in your cart, or decide you didn’t really need something after all.

If you’re still pining after 2 days, you can consider the item a worthy purchase and go for it. As an added bonus, some businesses may send you a discount to convince you to return to your abandoned shopping cart.

If a business doesn’t give you the option of using a shopping cart, drop the website URL into whatever app you use to keep notes and leave it. If an item is really worth it, you’ll come back for it —  you’ll be surprised how many things you’ll forget you even wanted when you don’t give in to the “BUY NOW” mentality.

See: Surprising Ways Gen Z and Millennials Are Worlds Apart Financially

Address the Source

Do you follow people on social media that make you feel like you need to buy new things in order to be relevant? Are you trying to keep up with someone because of the life they portray on social media? Those portrayals are not always accurate, and buying what they’re selling might not feel as good as you’d think.

Though it might be tough to admit, there could be reasons beyond “it’s cute” for impulsively buying items online. If you find yourself obsessing over certain influencers (and the lives they lead) or buying things simply because someone else had them, it might be time to put those accounts on mute to cut down on spending.

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Last updated: Sep. 15, 2021

About the Author

Sam DiSalvo is an LA-based comedian, writer and actor who's performed all over the country. Her written work has appeared in numerous digital publications. As a copywriter, she's worked with a variety of major brands including GoldieBlox and Thrive Causemetics. Sam loves dogs and is currently perusing leisure suits to buy for her corgi mix, Barry

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