Social media is a great tool for networking, discovering new ideas, and staying in touch with people we care about. But it can also be a significant source of stress, one that is damaging to your self-esteem. One of the other things that social media can cause? Financial envy. Or its more commonly known counterpart, FOMO.
Fear of missing out, or FOMO, can negatively affect people of all ages, causing higher stress rates, anxiety, and a lower feeling of life satisfaction. It can even skew people’s perceptions of what is considered “normal.” When FOMO turns into financial envy, the negative effects can trickle down into your feelings about money.
There is good news, though: You can overcome financial envy by adjusting your mindset and tweaking your habits. Here’s how.
Remember your money goals
Maybe you’re intentionally limiting your spending so you can save up for a big purchase. Maybe an unexpected event (like a global pandemic?) has affected your income, requiring you to be frugal for a little while.
When you’re going through a frugal phase, it seems like everyone you know on social media is buying a new house or car. Seeing friends, family, coworkers, or even casual acquaintances enjoying their money in that way can deal a blow to anyone’s self-esteem.
It’s hard, but remember that your decision to save money now will pay off later. You may not be actively spending money right now, but you are putting it to work towards a goal that’s important to you.
Our advice? Write your financial goal on a sticky note, make it your phone background, or say your goal out loud whenever you see something that triggers your financial envy.
Take a break from social media
Here’s an easy fix for dealing with financial envy, one that’s so easy everyone forgets to do it: get off social media.
Do you really need to see these posts on Facebook about the new Tesla your cousin bought? Or those gorgeous pictures from your friend’s recent beach vacation? You actually don’t.
Not sure where to start with a social media break? Run a quick social media audit. Are there any apps that you hate using, but are still using for some unknown reason? If you dread opening Snapchat but feel like you have to clear those annoying notifications on your phone, then you probably don’t need that app on your phone. Delete it. It’s not making you happy.
If you use social media platforms for work, then deleting them may not be an option for you. What you can do instead is make the platform only about work. Set timers to limit how much you spend scrolling your feed. Unfollow, mute, or hide people if you need to. You can always go back and follow their content again later if you want.
Another alternative? Turn off notifications and set app usage limits so that you don’t feel compelled to keep checking the apps. We promise — you’re not missing anything important.
Be mindful of your feelings towards others
Our next piece of advice may sound a little snarky, but I promise it’s not, and it will help you get over your feelings of financial envy. Remember that it’s not always about you.
Imagine you’re talking to your best friend and they get really excited about something they bought or an experience they paid for recently. Your first reaction might be, “Ugh, I wish I had the money to do that. How unfair.”
Did that hypothetical reaction make you cringe? It’s a totally natural response to hearing about something that you can’t have! But again, it’s not always about you. Try not to focus on how you feel or how you are reacting to their news. Focus on your best friend instead.
Truly listen to them and ask questions. Let them be excited! Maybe you’ll learn about how they had to be frugal for this dream vacation, or how long they spent searching for a house within their budget that ticked all their boxes. You’ll find it hard to be envious when you let yourself feel their joy. It may also remind you that everyone’s financial situation is different, too.
Reframe your thoughts
When you’re being frugal, it’s easy to look at everything you purchase in a negative light. You’re focusing on what you can’t buy instead of being happy with what you can buy.
For example, you’re out grocery shopping and craving that decadent-looking dessert in the bakery, but know you don’t want to (or can’t) spend all that extra money on it. You check out and feel annoyed that you aren’t able to simply buy what you wanted. We’ve all been there.
Try reframing your thoughts when you buy something. Remind yourself of the value of your purchases. In this situation, look at the groceries you did buy. Maybe you bought a lot of healthy fruit and veggies because you enjoy cooking or want to be healthier. You were still able to buy items that fall in line with your values and support your interests.
(And hey, maybe you can pick up the ingredients to bake your own delicious dessert at home!)
Give yourself a break
Envy, jealousy, bitterness, FOMO: these are all natural feelings. Even if you follow the previous tips for avoiding financial envy, you won’t completely be rid of them. That’s okay. No one is perfect, and no one should expect to be perfect.
We’re all human. If you can’t seem to avoid those envious feelings, let them happen. The fact that you’re noticing them and wanting to shake them is a sign of improvement. Next time those pesky feelings of financial envy resurface, you’ll be ready to handle them.
Our best recommendation for fighting financial envy is actually doing a money values exercise. This helps you really hone in on what’s important, and will give you tools you need to fight those feelings when they do come up.
You can unlock our Values Exercise (and tons of other resources) in our Resource Library.