Ways to ease social media's strain on your wallet

From Reuters - February 9, 2018

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jessica Jones, 26, jokes that when she wants to spend more money, she goes on Instagram.

Jones, an at-home care provider in California, often gets the urge to buy the same shoes or makeup she sees people wearing when she scrolls through Instagrams stream of carefully curated images. Last week, she bought a pair of Dolls Kill high heels embroidered with pink roses after seeing them on the app.

Those Instagram-inspired purchases put Jones in good company. A recent study found that 57 percent of U.S. millennials shell out money they had not planned to spend because of what they see on social media.

Social media can be very aspirational, because people often post things that are an idealized version of what theyre living, said Kimberly Palmer, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet. You might get good ideas for a vacation or an outfit or jewelry, and theres nothing wrong with that, but it might not fit into your budget.

Nearly 90 percent of millennials (ages 20 to 36) surveyed by Allianz Life Insurance Co of North America said social media pushes people to compare their wealth and lifestyle to others. Only 71 percent of Generation X (ages 37 to 51), and just 54 percent of baby boomers (52 to 70) feel the same way.

Enviable images of other peoples lives used to come mostly from glossy magazines and TV, but now we are constantly getting a peek via social media.

It can be an overwhelming influence on how you see the world, said Paul Kelash, vice president of consumer insights at Allianz Life. If you pay too much attention, then you might start making decisions you otherwise wouldnt in your spending.


To avoid getting into financial trouble, be honest about what is most important to you.

Ask: Do I really need that, or do I just want it? Kelash said.

Once that line is clearly differentiated, keep track of your budget and set goals. For the short term, that could be a vacation. A medium-term goal might be a house, while a long-term goal for most of us is retirement, he added.

The temptation to spend is partly why Joanna Zheng, a 24-year-old equity analyst in New York, recently cut back on her social media use.


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