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Cure Your FOMO to Save Money



FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) often dooms otherwise solid financial plans. (And causes further problems for unsound financial plans.) When you suffer from FOMO, you have a tendency to spend recklessly and unwisely. You see that shiny thing and buy it because it might not be here tomorrow. Anything labeled “limited edition” or similar can trigger a spending spree.

You end up buying stuff your friends are buying because you don’t want to miss out. (Think video game consoles, ATV’s, the “it” cell phone or watch, or other things that you “need” in order to continue to spend time with them or remain part of the group.) You buy a car, RV, pool or any other big ticket item because the dealer talks a good game about limited time offers, “last chances,” and financing offers that will never be repeated! And FOMO isn’t limited to just physical goods. It pops up everywhere!

Experiences. Yep, FOMO lives here, too. That trip you have to go on because your friends are going. The sporting event you can’t miss because it will be all anyone’s talking about tomorrow. The concert you have to attend because it’s all over social media and you don’t want to miss it. These experiences are are all driven by FOMO. 

Investments. Investing in “hot” products like crypto and meme stocks (that you don’t even understand) because they’re all over the news and everyone is doing it. Buying real estate that you don’t understand and have no desire to deal with because it’s “a guaranteed wealth builder.” Investing in anything advertised on TV like gold bars, collector’s plates, figurines, etc. Your FOMO is leading you toward risky investments. 

Sketchy schemes. When someone pitches their latest Ponzi scheme or offers to let you in on the ground floor of something and you bite because it’s time limited or might not be available to you later. When your friend seduces you into his MLM so you can make tons of money with almost no work! Any time you fall for a “get rich quick” scheme, your FOMO is showing. 

Food. Yep, FOMO even hits in the grocery store. Remember all the pumpkin spice products, limited edition flavors, and seasonal foods like egg nog? Limited time sales and deals? All of it pokes your FOMO button. 

Crowdfunding. Oh, this is the worst for FOMO afflicted people. While crowdfunding is generally for purchasing physical goods, I believe it operates in a special pit of its own when it comes to encouraging FOMO. Everything about it screams, “Limited! Buy now or regret it forever!” Many projects never even make it to retail, so it’s back it now or never. Even if a project does come to retail it will likely be missing some components that were available during the crowdfunding, so you’ll regret not having the “complete” thing. Crowdfunding is FOMO on steroids. 

Can you cure FOMO?

Curing it is often difficult, but once you master your FOMO you’ll save a ton of money. Not to mention space in your home (and head) for other things. Note that sometimes you need professional help to cure FOMO. Depression/anxiety, beliefs about money, insecurities, or even trauma can cause FOMO. If that’s the case, see a mental health professional. 

But for the mildly afflicted, here are some things to try:

  1. Disengage from anything that triggers your FOMO. For example, don’t visit Kickstarter if you know it’s a problem, and stay away from forums where projects are discussed and advertised. Stay off social media, or at least avoid problematic groups, discussions, or sites. Stop visiting the websites of retailers or using apps/games that you know trigger FOMO. There are website blockers and time limiter apps that can help with this. 
  2. Get comfortable with the word, “no.” If your friends are pressuring you into something and you know you can’t afford it, say no and stick to it. You don’t have to be mean about it, but just let them know that whatever they want to do is not in your budget right now. Offer an alternative if you think they might go for it. 
  3. Practice gratitude. FOMO sometimes stems from a feeling of lack, that somehow you’re always lacking something that others have or are experiencing. Being grateful for what you already have can turn down the FOMO on anything new. You can create a gratitude journal, meditate, or engage in a faith-based approach to gratitude if that works for you. Volunteering also helps because when you work with others and see some of the problems and suffering in the world, it makes your FOMO over a collectible or concert seem pretty silly. 
  4. Digital detox. If your FOMO is strong, you may have to go cold turkey. Turn off your TV, phone, and computer and either sit with your thoughts or go out into the real world and do something you enjoy. Don’t do something because others are doing it; choose your own way of experiencing the world. Go to the park with some friends or choose some other non-FOMO inducing activity to do with the real people in your life. 
  5. Talk yourself down. When you come up against something that triggers your FOMO, tell yourself all of the reasons why you don’t need to buy or do this thing. You don’t need another “X,” and you don’t have space for it. Remind yourself that your budget is already at capacity and you can’t afford it. Remember that you already have five similar things (and you probably haven’t used them). Remind yourself that most marketing-speak like “limited time or quantity,” or “one time only” is rarely the truth. Most sales and deals come around again, or aren’t that great to begin with. 
  6. Apply logic. Debunk any claims or promises with cold, hard logic. Is this investment really great, or is it a mirage? How have others fared in the real world, not just those presented in the marketing pitch? If your neighbor wants you to invest in his business, do you really believe he can make a go of it, or does everything you know about him tell you it’s doomed to fail? Is that financing offer really great, or is the salesman trying to con you with fuzzy math? Slow down and think through the claims. A lot of things fall apart when you expose them to logic.
  7. Remember the value of being last. If you don’t have to be the first to have something, you can almost always find it cheaper. This can make your money go further (or cool the buying urge altogether so you save the money). Most physical goods can be bought used or on closeout after they’ve been out for a while. Some stores offer refurbs that are just as good as new. Books can be obtained from the library for free if you’re willing to wait your turn. You have time to watch sales and determine when a sale is really stellar and when it’s just a gimmick. (Also remember that early adopters get to deal with the headaches that go with new products. Us latecomers benefit from their suffering.)
  8. Find better friends. If your friends are causing your FOMO, limit your time with them. They may be constantly doing things you can’t afford or pushing you to buy things because it’s better if you all have the same things. If your friends are always boasting about their new stuff or great experiences and making you feel badly for not taking part, you need to limit your contact with them. 
  9. Say yes. Sometimes. Cutting all FOMO-inducing things out of your life will probably lead to a binge. When you feel deprived and as though the entire world is having fun without you, you might go nuts and spend uncontrollably. Learn to say yes only to the things that mean the most to you while letting everything else go. Instead of backing ten Kickstarters, save your money for that trip to your friend’s wedding and bachelor party. You’ll still have fun and do things others are doing, but you’ll be doing it in a limited, controlled, and responsible manner. And the things you do will mean more to you because they are special. 
  10. Remember that there are always new opportunities. That thing you “missed out on” today will probably be repeated another day. Very little is truly limited. Or, there will be something even better down the road. Life is always moving along and presenting you with opportunities. You can’t possibly take advantage of them all, so don’t even try. Tomorrow will bring new things, so learn to discern which ones are truly worth spending time, money or space on.


Read More:

  •  How to Unplug From Consumerism
  • Things Most People Regret Buying
  • A Life Without Debt: It’s a Strange Time Warp

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