Is Your Social Media Habit Causing You to Overspend?

Keeping up with the Joneses gets even harder when it includes celebrities that you follow on social media.

Social media is a multi-billion-dollar industry where ordinary people become overnight sensations and companies cash in on people’s apparently insatiable need to be constantly connected.

The many different platforms have enhanced our lives by making us feel connected and that our opinion matters. Yet what if all this sharing has a dark side?

How to Tell if Social Media Is Causing You to Overspend

Here are some questions to determine if your overspending is caused by social media.

  1. Do you constantly check to see what your friends bought?
  2. Are you spending more time than usual on social media?
  3. Do you feel anxious, jealous or dissatisfied with life after checking social media?

It used to be just the neighbors and co-workers some people tried to keep up with or outdo. Now it’s everyone in your social circles, posting about their latest luxury cruise “just because” or posting beautiful pictures of their latest $100,000 kitchen remodel on Pinterest. It might not even be people you “know,” just people you follow (and envy) online.

This might not even be a conscious choice; you might be overspending just to keep up appearances. You might splurge on a $2,000 sofa because you saw one online, even though it’s way out of your budget. You think it is OK because of the special financing, but you can quickly get in trouble if you miss even one payment, because the interest starts accruing from the day of your purchase. Suddenly that $2,000 sofa balloons into $3,000, and you are still paying on it for months or years after you bought it. (This debt isn’t just adding up interest — it could also be harming your credit. You can find out by reviewing your free credit report summary on Credit.com.)

Resentment could be another byproduct of social media. You see all the seemingly perfect people online and you wonder why your life isn’t like that. You feel like it’s not fair, so you spend the $600 you managed to save for your emergency fund on one wild shopping spree. Then when a true emergency occurs, you have nothing left besides a few cool posts on Facebook and some new clothes or furnishings.

The truth is, you don’t know everything behind the photos and posts. The couple with the gorgeous beach house, two perfect kids and adorable puppy? Their finances could be in worse shape than yours. You only get to see the surface or mask they choose to post. Basing your own desires on what you perceive is like falling for the Wizard of Oz’s tricks. It’s time to see what’s behind the curtain.

How to Stay Connected & Avoid Overspending

How do you turn it around? First, decide what your goals are. What do you want your life to look like? Do you want to be debt-free? Do you want your house to look like a spread in a magazine, complete with a stack of bills? Once you pinpoint your priorities, you can concentrate on mini-goals to reach them.

Take control of your spending by keeping track of every penny. For every purchase, ask yourself four questions:

  1. Is this something I really need?
  2. Do I already have something like this I can use instead?
  3. Can I find it cheaper somewhere else?
  4. How will this enhance my life or goal?

After a while, the questions will become automatic and you will find yourself letting go of the constant need to get new things, and instead become more content with what you have.

Unplug for a while, at least while you get on track with your spending. There are so many ways to connect that it can become addicting. Like any addiction, sometimes going cold-turkey will break the spell it holds over you. Just try it for a week and see how you feel. Better yet, see how your finances are doing.

How you choose to engage could be the difference between failing finances and a healthy budget. Once you master your overspending, social media can be fun again.

This article originally appeared on The Dollar Stretcher.com.

Image: andresr

The post Is Your Social Media Habit Causing You to Overspend? appeared first on Credit.com.