How-to Not Let FOMO Completely Destroy Your Finances

by Martin

“Not only do I not know what’s going on, I wouldn’t know what to do about it if I did.” — George Carlin

Are you afraid of missing out? Are you always feeling anxiety about what’s possibly happening without you?

I sure as hell am.

My biggest fear is that the party ends one day. I’m afraid of missing out on a fun night. I worry about waking up to Facebook to see that my friends had a wild night while I was sleeping. I’m always the last one to go to bed. I can’t go to sleep knowing that there’s something going on. I sometimes sleep with my phone on vibrate in case someone texts me in the middle of the night. I always want to be apart of the party. I want to be the party.

I also worry about business all of the time. I stress about others making more money than me. I’m nervous that one of my peers might think of something clever that I wish I had thought of.

I never went to miss out.

This my friend, is why I needed to write about FOMO.

What’s FOMO all about?

According to Wikipedia (you can’t doubt them!):

“Fear of missing out or FOMO is a form of social anxiety — a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying event. This is especially associated with modern technologies such as mobile phones and social networking services.”

Now that’s a disease.

I first read about the fear of missing out over at Financial Samurai. Sam said it best with this line:

“In the past it was OK to just chill and do nothing on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But now, it feels off doing nothing if we see our friends on Facebook posting pictures of a boozy brunch at a music festival out in Montauk.”

So true. Sam does a great job with his discussion of the topic in the article. You need to check out that article.

According to Psych Central:

“The fear of missing out (FOMO) — on something more fun, on a social date that might just happen on the spur of the moment — is so intense, even when we’ve decided to disconnect, we still connect just once more, just to make sure.”

I didn’t think much about FOMO until I realized just how guilty I am of it.

On my most recent trip, I met two young ladies from South Africa that told me all about “FOMO” and “getting launched.” According to them, whenever they feel like staying in, they think of FOMO and then suddenly they get launched into going out because their friends make them feel bad about missing out on what could be an instant classic of a night.

Who wants to miss out on an epic night that might end up on Myth Busters one day?

We’re all victims of FOMO in some way.

For example, I would be happy about closing an advertising deal, and then suddenly get sad after seeing a friend got a new job or a raise. Why are they making more money than me?

On my most recent trip, I was surprised to see that my friends back home were having so much fun.

How could they? I wasn’t there to join them!

This happens to all of us.

  • Why is Steve having more fun tonight? I thought this party was a blast until I saw all the hot chicks at his party.
  • Why does my job suck? I got to leave work early, but Jessica noted on Twitter that she works from home.
  • Why am I snowboarding? I should be surfing.

And it goes on…

How can FOMO completely destroy your finances?

There are three ways that FOMO will completely sabotage your financial efforts and make financial freedom impossible:

  1. You always want to go out. How could you possibly stay in? Facebook is telling you that a new club is opening, a friend is hosting a birthday party, and that the hockey game is supposed to be good. You need to get out and spend money. You can’t stay in. Think of all of the things that you’ll miss out on.
  2. You always want something new. Sure, your laptop is fine, but it’s not the best. You need to spend money to always have what’s best on the market.
  3. You don’t get productive work done. How could you possibly get anything done when you’re always checking for updates on social media? It’s impossible. There will ALWAYS be something new to read, laugh at, and to share with your friends. A quick Facebook check-in tuns into a 2-hour chat with a casual friend and hours on YouTube watching hilarious videos.

Your finances can easily get destroyed. Those plans to work on your business are out the window. Sons of Anarchy marathon it is.

Don’t worry my friend. We will beat this damn FOMO together!

How do you combat FOMO from completely destroying your finances?

I’ll say this first: you can never fully destroy it!

You can work on improving it. You can prevent FOMO from destroying your finances. You will always feel it a bit though.

Let’s deal with FOMO!

Step 1: Avoid social media sometimes. Go on a fast!

Don’t worry, I would never suggest that you avoid social media forever. That’s sort of impossible. I just want you to spend less time on it and to take social media fasts.

In May and August I had Facebook fasts. I deactivated my account and never checked it. It was awesome. I didn’t hear about what Justin was up to or what was going on. I just did what I wanted to do. I was in control of my time.

I suggest that you try social media breaks. It can be half a day, a full day, a full weekend, a week, or a month.

[Martin's challenge: take a social media fast this weekend! Don't log in. Take your notifications off. See what happens. The world won't stop.]

You want to hear something scary? I found a study on Facebook over at BBC. Some of the results are interesting:

Results showed that the more people used Facebook, the worse they felt afterwards.

The team also found that the more the participants used the site, the more their life satisfaction levels declined.

Now I feel bad for ever posting a picture at party or on a trip. I hope I didn’t make someone sad.

[Helpful hint from Martin: Never go on social media when you're sad, angry, lonely, or feeling sorry for yourself. It will only make you feel worse unless you see a video of a fat kid falling out of a tree. Stay off social media when things aren't going your way. Social media will make you sad and it might cause a break down. While these meltdowns are epic, they aren't going to help you get ahead in life.]

Step 2: Do something in life that inspires you!

Okay, I have to be corny for a bit.

The reason that most of us drink, spend hours on social media, or just waste time in general is that we are BORED OUT OF OUR MINDS.

When you’re busy, working on cool projects, and generally happy, you don’t care for one second about what’s happening on social media. Why would you? You have better things to do.

Find something that inspires you and pursue it relentlessly. You don’t need permission from anyone!

Step 3: Plan your own fun.

You need to have fun. There’s no way around this.

The good news is that we all do something else for fun. I have friends that play board games or video games, those that go for walks, some that stay in with family, and others that read. That’s cool.

You don’t have to be at every single party or involved in every event.

When I was in school I worked full-time so that I could graduate debt-free. Sure, I missed some parties. I’m sure they were fun. To me, going on trips from 22-25 was more fun than working a crappy job. Just my two cents.

What are you going to do for fun? Plan some fun and only worry about that.

Who gives a damn about what anyone else is doing? They’re probably jealous of you. And please don’t post any pictures if you’re having a blast. Just enjoy the night.

[Martin's random thought: Why tag someone in a picture one minute after taking it? Last week when I was out in Buenos Aires, a young Brazilian lady took a group picture, uploaded it, and then tagged us all in it right away. Why? Why not enjoy the evening instead of going on Facebook right away?]

Step 4: Think about financial freedom.

I love to write about financial freedom. You already know that.

Think about what financial freedom means to you. Imagine the thought of crushing your debt. How great does that feel?

What about quitting your job? What about saving enough money to go on that trip?

All of these ideas are way more interesting than social media and what club your friends are at.

Step 5: Stay in shape!

The good thing about working out is that you have other goals. You have something that you’re striving towards. You’re not just bored out of your mind and sitting around waiting for something to happen. You’re making things happen.

If you’re feeling clueless you need to check out Kettlebell Rebels, where the world is your gym!

Shameless plugs aside, it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. Training helps you create goals for yourself.

For example, I recently started BJJ and pro wrestling training. This has forced me to always be conscious of my sleep, eating, and overall lifestyle. I can’t get wasted during the week because I have early morning classes to attend. I can’t spend hours on social media because I’m at the gym working on my goals.

What’s going to inspire you?

Try joining a class at your gym. Pick up a new sport. Enter a challenge. See what happens.

Step 6: Who the hell do you have to impress?

The other night I was out and this guy was egging me on to drink. I didn’t get mad at first because I would be doing the same.

But he went on and on.

“I don’t have to impress you. I don’t get nervous when I’m sober.”

I let him have it. I got frustrated. I didn’t have to impress this guy by spending $100 on drinks to get drunk for no reason.

He still didn’t get the point because he was too belligerent at this point.

Long story short: you do NOT have to impress anybody out there.

It’s your life.

Don’t be afraid of FOMO. It happens to us and it will never fully go away. Fortunately, we can combat it and still save tons of money without feeling lonely 24/7.

For what it’s worth, I wrote this article on a Saturday night. I went out to meet the guys from my wrestling class and then hit the town with a friend. I was bored with the scene. I left early because I wanted to get some work done and wake up early the next day. On Sunday, while at the gym, I heard from friends about how hungover they were. And they didn’t even have that good of a night.

“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.” – Hunter S. Thompson

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Financial Samurai

Love the honesty of this post MD. The older I get the less I want to go out for a rager. So that wording from the two ladies “getting launched” is very helpful!

It’s been a fun past week in Oahu going out every night. But now it’s back to being a homebody in SF. Helps when it’s cold outside!

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2 Martin

Thanks for the original idea for the post.

I was actually thinking about that. Do you find that it’s easier to get work done when it’s warm or cold out? When the sun is out, you want to work so that you can get outside ASAP. When it’s cold, you’re pretty much stuck inside all day.

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3 Fig @ Figuring Money Out

Great post. FOMO is an insidious little bugger. I find it creeping up all the time to be honest, especially since I have a lot of now single friends who like to go out all the time. You are right that it will never go away but there are ways to fight it, which I will keep doing!

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4 Martin

Being single definitely fuels FOMO. You always have to be out. You never want to miss a night out in fear that something might happen.

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5 Dave @ The New York Budget

Great post. I definitely have this. I especially like coping mechanism #3. I have definitely become the planner of my group and have introduced way more non-drinking activities (as well as cheap drinking ones like more apartment parties). Just shoot out an email about a sweet, morning beach trip to your friends and then the ones who are too hungover to go will be having the FOMO!

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6 Martin

That’s a great idea Dave! I never even thought of that. Damn FOMO can hit on both ends. Evening and morning.

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7 Justin @ RootofGood

Yeah, those freakin facebook friends that never relent in posting awesome pics of what they are doing. Except at some point, I come to the conclusion that many of them are very one dimensional. Exceptionally one dimensional.

One guy runs 5k’s. Every weekend. Every weekend. Those pics of him crossing the finish line never get old. Said no one, ever.

Another loves her microbrews. She’s on beer #74 of some particular beer drinking journey. In my world, when I get to #24, that’s it. The Coors or High Life case has no number #25. #24, then that’s it. The way it was meant to be.

Somehow I’ve never had a fear of missing out. There must be at least 100 awesome things to do at any given time. I can only do 1 (well, maybe 2) at a time. I’m consigned to a fate of missing out on 98-99 awesome things at any point in my life. Maybe I sit on the couch and read a book (which I find awesome). Make it 100 other awesome things I’m missing out on. The marginal suffering I experience by going from missing out on 99 things versus 100 things is about zero. :)

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8 Martin

Thanks for the great comment Justin.

I’m jealous of you. As hard as I try I still get hit with fomo when I least expect it.

The good news is that you don’t have to suffer. You can only do one thing at a time.

Sometimes I’m very happy that I got to stay in and relax as opposed to go on some crazy brewery tour that only leads to a hangover for all involved.

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