3 ways doom scrolling is affecting your budget

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Facebook went live to the public in 2006 and anyone 13 or over could create an account. More than a decade later, most people’s lives include an average of 145 minutes of social media scrolling every day. Some people’s financial livelihoods are tied to social media apps.

Social media can suck up your time and influence how you spend your money. 88% of millennials tend to compare their own financial standing to what they see on social media, according to a 2018 study from Allianz, a financial services company.  

But social media isn’t always detrimental to your budget, says Danetha Doe, financial educator and creator of Money & Mimosas. She says it’s a two-sided coin. One side can make you spend more because you feel a fear of missing out, or FOMO. On the other hand, social media can help you achieve your financial goals.

“It’s about curating what you’re viewing so you are supporting the financial health decision you wish to meet,” Doe says. 

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Understanding how social media can affect you is the first step in protecting your money. Here are three ways social media is affecting your budget and how you can avoid it.

1. Turning to therapy, not social media

Facebook recently changed its name to Meta after the company came under fire for being linked to negatively impacting people’s mental health. According to The Wall Street Journal, documents show the company was aware Instagram users compare their attractiveness, worth, and success to others.  

Thinking of yourself as less-than because you’re not a millionaire or influencer isn’t healthy. And you’re already feeling low, social media can make it worse, says Carolyn McClanahan, physician and certified financial planner at Life Planning Partners. “People who have a void in their life or are going through a rough patch sometimes rely on social media to fill it. And that’s not very healthy.” 

She recommends finding a professional mental health care provider to help you, instead of influencers. “Too many people look to social media and to the world outside to bring them happiness, when in reality, happiness has to come from within,” McClanahan says.  

Getting help doesn’t have to be expensive. The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance providers to cover mental health treatment. This includes substance abuse, rehabilitation services, and therapy. Your insurance will likely cover a portion of the costs, including prescriptions. You may have a copay, which can range from $20 to $40 or more depending on your coverage, McClanahan says.

You’ll also want to try and find a professional in your network, McClanahan says. If you find someone that’s not covered by your insurance, you still have options. Some insurance plans offer out-of-network coverage, but you’ll likely need to pay a certain amount upfront before coverage kicks in. 

Whether your mental health care provider is in-or out-of-network, extended treatment can add up over time. You can further save on mental health care using a health savings account, McClanahan says. 

HSAs are investable medical savings accounts with triple-tax benefits. Contributions, earnings, and withdrawals are tax free as long as you spend the money on qualified medical expenses. HSAs are available to people with a high-deductible health plan through work.

2. The cost of comparing 

You’re bound to feel some element of missing out if you constantly see friends, influencers, and celebrities posting experiences online. “It can make you spend more money on things you may not have needed prior to seeing the image,” Doe says. 

According to Allianz’s study, 61% of millennials feel inadequate about their own life because of what they see on social media. As a result, more than half spent money they didn’t plan to spend. 

Many apps are also making it easier than ever to shop. Not only can users save credit card information in the app, influencers can post a picture of a product with a direct link to buy it. On top of that, the app can notify you when your favorite influencers update their feed. 

It’s OK to splurge on products that make you feel good, Doe says. But it becomes a problem when you’re buying every pair of vintage jeans you see online. If you know you have a social media spending problem, try to cut back on screen time. 

“It’s hard to eliminate a habit if you don’t have something to replace it with,” Doe says. She recommends going on a walk or doing a quick stretch when you feel the urge to scroll.   

3. Cookies are increasing your prices

You’ve probably been flooded with ads for something you searched for one. It’s no mistake. Social media apps track your movements and serve you ads for items you’re likely to click on. Some bots will advertise the same item at a higher cost. 

Clicking on a curated ad can cost you more money than searching for something organically. Data tracking bots can cook up ads for a product you’ve already searched for and spike the price, a practice known as dynamic pricing. 

You can control how much information is being tracked. To protect user privacy, The Cookie Law requires websites to get your consent to track data. Some even let you control what information they see. If you’re given the option, only allow required cookies to access a website or social media platforms. You can erase your browser history and stored cookies at any time. 

However you use social media, it’s important to understand how it can affect your overall well being. “Not all social media is bad,” Doe says. “It can be a great tool to support your financial health.” She suggests setting a time limit to the amount of scrolling you do a day. You can set up an alert on your phone to tell you how often you’re on social media to keep you accountable, Doe says. 

This article originally appeared on Policygenius.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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Sneaky ways online retailers get you to overspend

Sneaky ways online retailers get you to overspend

Online retailers are eager for your money, and they have several tricks up their sleeve to get you to spend it. Although certain expenditures may be unavoidable, there are ways to save when you shop. And knowing the tricks that retailers use to get you to spend more will help you avoid falling for them. Here’s what to watch out for when you’re shopping online.

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Most retailers offer free shipping if you spend a certain amount of money. This can be a way to get you to buy more than you need, as most people would rather put their money toward tangible goods than a shipping charge. 

But if the free shipping threshold is high and you have to pad your order just to meet it, consider store pickup instead. If that’s not an option, you can order from a store that accepts in-store returns and take back the unwanted merchandise you used to pad your order. Or simply buy what you need and pay the shipping charge.

You should consider the shipping charge when you’re comparison shopping as well. If one retailer has an item on sale but will charge a shipping fee, you might be better off buying it full price from a retailer that offers free shipping. Doing the math to calculate the total cost at each store can help you save money.

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If you have an Amazon account with your credit card saved, you know how tempting one-step checkout can be. Just click a button and it’s yours! You don’t even have to take out your wallet. That’s by design.

To avoid making an impulse purchase, experts recommend instituting a waiting period between when you first see an item you’d like to purchase and when you pull the trigger. It could be one day or a week, but make sure it’s enough time to consider the value of the item.

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Waiting to buy, though a great strategy, also invites retailers to hit you again with their marketing efforts. You might receive an email that says, “We’ve saved your shopping cart for you” or something similar. 

This can make it hard to walk away from an item, especially if it was something you really wanted. But it’s likely that your decision not to checkout was a good one, so stick by it and don’t click on any follow-up emails.

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Retargeting ads are the reason products you look at once follow you around everywhere on social media. They’re an effective way to get consumers to make a purchase because they advertise products that already hold some appeal to the viewer. 

To avoid falling for the trap, don’t make your purchasing decisions based on retargeting ads. Instead, carefully evaluate your budget before spending any money online.

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If you’ve ever signed up for an online account with a retailer, you probably get coupons in your email account for various discounts available to registered customers. If you shop online often, these offers could overwhelm your inbox. 

Designate a folder for promotions, and only look at these offers when you need to shop for something. These offers are only a problem if they tempt you to buy something you wouldn’t otherwise purchase. Otherwise, they can be a good way to save money shopping online.

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First-time customer discounts can be pretty appealing, and they can also be useful if you need to try a new product. Just don’t go on an online shopping spree at a retailer you’ve barely heard of simply to snag 50% off. Always spend within your budget, no matter how deep of a discount you can get on an item.

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Most retailers will discount products regularly throughout the year, but they’ll present each sale as a limited-time offer to persuade you to act fast and purchase the product now. 

Knowing this can help you avoid overspending in one go to a discount. Instead, give yourself a few months of shopping time before you need to buy an item, and try to snag the lowest price you can during that time. It’s also a good idea to use a shopping app like Paribus, which may help you get a refund if the price happens to drop shortly after your purchase.

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A few retailers, including Amazon, offer you a discount for subscribing to repeat orders. The idea is that you’ll sign up to get the discount, even if you don’t know how often you’ll need the product delivered. 

If this results in you having stacks of extra paper towels or bottles of shampoo you can’t use, you’re not saving money, and you’re creating more waste. It’s fine to sign up for subscription-based discounts, but be sure to monitor your deliveries in your online account.

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Again, if you have to buy more than you need to save, you’re not really saving. Bulk purchase discounts make sense for certain items, like toilet paper, which you’ll always use. But if you bring home a case of eggs from Costco and have to look for excuses to make omelets, it’s probably not a useful purchase for you. Don’t buy more than what you can use.

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More retailers are offering point-of-sale financing through lenders like Afterpay, Affirm and QuadPay, Inc. For an expensive item, these offers can seem appealing. Even if you can’t afford a $200 pair of shoes right now, $50 per month is totally doable. These offers are typically interest-free for certain plans, whereas longer terms require that you pay interest.

In most cases, you’re better off saving the money ahead of time than spending it over time. This will ensure you have the money carved out of your budget and won’t accrue interest. However, in certain situations, you can take advantage of these offers. For example, if you need a new refrigerator right away but can’t afford to pay for it all at once, look into point-of-sale financing.

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A lot of retailers offer a generous one-time discount when you apply for a store credit card. For instance, with the T.J. Maxx credit card, you get a 10% welcome discount that’s good for your first purchase. 

However, it typically only makes sense to take advantage of these offers if you’re both making a large purchase already and will use the credit card in the future to get perks at that particular store. 

Don’t let a new cardholder discount convince you to spend more than you would otherwise. Also keep in mind that applying for a store card constitutes a hard credit check and will cause a small, temporary dip in your credit score.

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<div class=”rich-text”><p>If you’re struggling with <a href=”https://financebuzz.com/how-to-manage-your-money” target=”_blank”>how to manage your money</a>, it can help to avoid falling into common online shopping traps. A deep discount doesn’t necessarily mean a good deal, and a good deal isn’t always a good reason to buy. </p><p>Stick to what you need and what fits into your budget. By recognizing the tricks retailers use to get you to spend, you can avoid overspending this holiday season.</p><p><br/></p><p><b>Read more:</b></p><p></p><ul><li><b><a href=”https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/other/want-to-shop-for-groceries-online-read-this/ss-BB1dEI9i?li=BBnb7Kw#image=1″ target=”_blank”>Want to shop for groceries online? Read this</a></b></li><li><a href=”https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/retirement/has-the-pandemic-tanked-your-retirement-youre-not-alone/ar-AAKPpUT” target=”_blank”><b>Has the pandemic tanked your retirement? You’re not alone</b></a></li></ul><p></p><p><br/></p><p class=”block-paragraph”></p><p class=”rich-text”></p><p><i>This article originally appeared on <a href=”https://financebuzz.com/ways-online-retailers-get-you-to-overspend” target=”_blank”>FinanceBuzz.com</a> and was syndicated by <a href=”https://mediafeed.org/” target=”_blank”>MediaFeed.org</a>.</i></p><p><i><br/></i></p><p></p><p></p><p class=””></p><p class=”cc__widgetReview cc__widgetReview–hasHeadline offer__widgetReview”></p><p class=”cc__best”></p><p></p></div>

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