No need to keep up with the FOMO – Don’t let social media ruin your financial life

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Whether you’re from generation X, Y, a millennial or even a baby boomer, chances are very good that you have a social media presence. Whether you are completely absorbed by this or not, doesn’t change the fact that social media is now one of the most influential communication mediums on the planet, and has the capacity to put your personal finances at serious risk… if you let it.

The phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” has been around since it was coined in a newspaper comic strip in 1913, but the idea that our social status is driven by our emotions and the need to fit in has been around since the first caveman built the first wheel.

In fact, our digitally-inspired lifestyles have even given birth to a new version of “Keeping up with the Joneses” that we like to call FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out. The truth is that social media is more dangerous for our personal financial choices than any other media that came before it. Where we used to just drool over celebrities in magazines and scoped out our neighbors over the wall, today, everyone’s life is in your newsfeed and therefore in your face.

Not only that, your social media is filled with family, friends and acquaintances carefully crafting a highlight reel of their best life whereas you are forever stuck living the behind-the-scenes bloopers reel of your own life. But over the last 10 years, it’s not only people we have to contend with, we also face the endless flurry of carefully crafted advertisements and influencer campaigns pushing their agenda on you and convincing you that you need X to be Y if you are ever going to live your best life, #FOMO #sponsoredcontent.

The power of this persuasion makes a lot of sense considering a 2020 study performed by Momentum Investments that revealed that emotions like fear and greed can influence the decision making of even the most astute investors. The researchers discovered what they dubbed a “behaviour tax” which essentially revealed why following our gut instincts when investing often does not serve us well.

The behaviours of investors and how this impacts their investments is the same for personal financial decisions made in the home. Our financial behaviour is dictated by our emotions. When we are scrolling through social media, you may find that your emotions like jealousy, desire, and envy can subtly or even overtly steer you in the direction of poor financial decisions and even lead you to rack up debt that you never needed.

But, if you can manage to keep a clear head and remain steadfast on your journey to success, the truth is social media is neither good nor bad. It’s all in how you use it to enhance your own life.

Deputy CEO of Momentum Metropolitan, Jeanette Marais recently said it beautifully on the money show Geldhelde (on VIA, DStv Channel 147): “Social media is a useful tool that can assist  us in connecting with others or sourcing information – but we should not let it dictate our choices.

We live in precarious times fraught with unpredictable challenges. Nobody could have predicted the devastating and long-term economic impact of COVID-19. Your finances are now more under threat than they probably ever have been, and social media can be a place to find the right advice and the right partners for your success.

The trick is to find a source of information, be it a brand or an expert that you can connect with on financial issues, and whose advice you can truly trust. Some brands, such as Momentum, share content online that will steer you in the right direction. If you have more specific needs, you can also connect with a financial adviser who will assist you in your journey to success.

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