FOMO. Fear of missing out. We all get it (only now we have an overused acronym to diagnose our problem. YOLO anyone?). When you’re living life on a budget, it can be one of the most difficult things to overcome. Nobody likes to be on the outside looking in. You don’t want to be that person who wasn’t there for some “unreal” evening, or have to live vicariously through the stories your friends or coworkers. But, after speaking with several doctors*, I’ve learned that we do have a cure. So, how do you stop spending money out of FOMO?
- Set your priorities. Some things will undoubtedly be more important to you than others. You may want to go to the bar with your buddies, but you may really want to go to your best friends wedding in Turks and Caicos. Like just about everything in personal finance, priorities matter. So, take a couple of minutes and figure out what activities mean the most to you. Then, you can…
- Budget. Unless you’re super rich and don’t have to worry about the money you’re spending (which, if that’s the case, please tell me in the comments and link to your blog) we all budget. If your friend just got engaged, or you and your pals have a weekly happy hour get together, or you enjoy a round of golf each Saturday with your coworkers, budget for it. Nothing out there prevents you from intelligently enjoying yourself (or stupidly, for that matter. But you’re smart kids.). You can set aside money in a vacation fund, spur-of-the-moment-travel fund, wedding fund, bachelor/ette party fund, golf fund- anything that you don’t want to miss out on. I’m willing to eat spaghetti a few nights a week if it lets me enjoy 18 holes on the weekend.
- Suggest new activities. Nothing out there says that you have to go to a bar to have fun or expensive restaurants to enjoy a meal. Although you’ll be forgiven if it seems like that. I swear, sometimes the youths act like if you’re not spending money, you’re not enjoying yourself. But things like cookouts where everyone brings a dish or a beverage can be an inexpensive and fun way to enjoy a Friday evening in lieu of a restaurant with $12 watermelon and goat cheese salads. Watching college football at your friend’s house on Saturday for the cost of a “sixer” or some pizza can beat going to a sports bar for $9 Bud Lights (of course, make sure you find a friend that still has cable). Have a play-date for your kids or pets, or just meet for some coffee. You can hang out on the cheap.
- Accept it. You’re going to miss out on some things. Such is life. We’re all going to miss out on things. Everyone remembers that Tuesday night back in college you didn’t go out to the bars that turned into an “epic” evening complete with pro athletes, table service, and limousines. There will always been stories in which we play no role. It’s going to happen. The key is to make sure you’re there for the events that will undoubtedly have a story.
Anytime you’re afraid of missing out, realize that you’re sacrificing now so you won’t be missing out on what really matters. Seeing your parents or grandparents, traveling, watching your best friend get married… or even watching that best friend get sloshy drunk a few weeks before they say those vows. Overcoming FOMO means the ability to enjoy life on your terms, without fear.
How do you get over FOMO?