It can be easy to look at your Instagram feed and suddenly feel like your life is lacking in some way. Staring at the perfectly curated and filtered feeds of the young and gorgeous enjoying amazing trips while wearing gorgeous clothes and dining at incredibly hip restaurants can leave some feeling like they’re missing out in some way, and that is resulting in many people going into debt.
The pressure for perfection on Instagram can be overwhelming for many and the effort to obtain that perfection can be pricey. Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth survey indicates that social media is so influential on millennials that 49% of those surveyed admitted to spending money on experiences because of social media. Another 48% said that they’ve overspent on experiences with friends ranging from anything from dining out to going on vacation because of social media.
“The burden to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ has been part of our culture for decades, but it appears that social media and the fear of missing out (FOMO) have increased the pressure to spend,” said Terri Kallsen, executive vice president and head of Schwab Investor Services. “Spending is not the enemy, but when we allow social pressure or other forces to lure us into spending beyond our means, it can impact long-term financial stability and become a larger problem.”
Lissette Calveiro moved to New York in 2013 and saw herself as Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and The City. She told the New York Post that she quickly found herself buying new outfits and eating at trendy restaurants all while documenting it on her Instagram page. “I wanted to tell my story about this young millennial living in New York,” Calveiro told The Post. “I was shopping . . . for clothes to take ‘the perfect ’gram.’ ” Unfortunately for Calveiro, she couldn’t afford her lifestyle, admitting that “I was living above my means,” she said. She accrued more than $10,000 in debt in her quest to be Instagram perfect. “Nobody talks about [his or her] finances on Instagram,” she said. “It worries me how much I see girls care about image.”
Another Instagram influencer known only as Carla told The Huffington Post UK that she also let the pressure to be perfect on Instagram land her in a pile of debt. “I know exactly how the influencer world works. I know how much people get paid to tout things on Instagram. But it didn’t make a blind bit of difference, I still ended up £25,000 in debt,” she stated. Carla said that it was when she was planning her wedding that her debt really started to get out of control stating “that was massively influenced by Instagram and Pinterest.” When she moved houses, it only got worse. “Renting made me feel like I wanted to create an image of that insta-perfect life,” she said. “And if you’re shown something enough times, then you start to feel like you really, really want it and like you need it.”
Carla finally realized she needed to make a change when the interest on her credit card bills began to mount and she had to make payments. She started a new Instagram account called My Frugal Year to have an “honest conversation about finance and wellbeing.” She told HuffPost that she’s hoping to be debt-free by 2021 and she’s helping herself do that by spending less time on social media, so she feels less pressure to spend.
“Humans are social creatures by nature, so it makes sense that many of us gravitate toward platforms that help us to connect,” Megan Ford, president of the Financial Therapy Association told Marcus.com. “But we must also be mindful of how social media impacts our choices, informs our instant gratification tendencies, and may ultimately lead us away from our true values and desires.”
Ford added that while social media can lead some to overspend, it can also help others to save. “Social media has had some positive impact, specifically around people more openly sharing their money concerns, which I believe has the potential to lessen shame,” says Ford. “Finances and financial problems can feel isolating, so knowing that there are others enduring the same issues can be comforting.”
Andrew T. Stephen, L’Oréal professor of marketing at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School suggests limiting social media exposure might be the key to controlling the urge to overspend. “I think nowadays there’s an increasing realization among people that social media might not be all good,” says Stephen. “There’s a sense that [people] need to ensure that it is used — enjoyed, even — in moderation.”
Originally published on Moms.
Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.