by Julie Jaggernath
Worried that social media is making it hard to save more money each month? Managing our money is about more than simple financial decisions. Our emotions, thoughts and moods play a huge role in determining our spending choices. Think about the last time you spent on a “want.” How easy and fast was it to justify that decision? Were you on a tight budget, but still felt like the purchase was necessary? Dealing with the emotional side of money can be hard enough most days because everyone has things they want but can’t afford. Add in the psychological effects of social media, and effective money management can feel like the most impossible chore. Many Canadians end up in debt from trying to keep up with all the trends they see. The trick to overcoming this is to stick with social media for the social part, but to keep it separate from the financial. Here are some realistic ways to save money and do just that:
Avoid Making Fast Buying Decisions
One of the best tips to spend less and save more is to slow down and carefully think over every potential purchase. Before social media became mainstream, we used to put a lot more thought into our buying decisions. We took our time to comparison shop, gather information from a variety of sources, and ask friends or neighbours for their opinions. It used to take hours or days to pry open our wallets. Now, in the middle of making our spending decisions, we have instant reviews from strangers as well as countless comparison shopping websites and tools at our fingertips. We endlessly scroll through influencers or even our acquaintances and friends talking about new products we don’t need.
While the fast-paced ways of receiving info on the fly might be convenient if we were buying everything at auction, this constant bombardment can decrease our ability to make wise choices. It causes a heightened sense of urgency where none exists — there will always be another good deal. Amazon Prime Day will be followed by Black Friday, Cyber Monday, holiday shopping specials, Boxing Day deals, clearance specials, and more.
Take Control of Your Online Shopping
It’s hard to save more money when with a few fast clicks or taps, a purchase can be made in mere moments. Rather than give in to this urgency and pressure, take a step back. Set up a separate email address for promotional emails or, better yet, unsubscribe entirely from any type of marketing that doesn’t fit within your budget or align with your goals. You want to do your research on your terms, not be tempted by a slick email marketing campaign, flash sale, or free shipping offer. Then make it as cumbersome as possible for you to buy online. Remove saved credit card details, passwords, and other payment information from online accounts. Delete apps that cause you to spend mindlessly while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store. Turn off one-click buying, which can be especially tempting on Amazon.
Finally, and definitely before you make a purchase — not after — seek opinions from those you trust and who have experience with the purchase you want to make. Avoid asking your whole social network to weigh in because free advice is seldom cheap. Then disable the option on online retailers that post your purchases to social media accounts. As Steve Jobs once said, “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice.” By slowing down your decision-making, you’ll be more confident and satisfied with the choices you make.
Rethink How You Use Social Media
It can be hard to save money and be confident in our spending choices when we subject ourselves to negative influences from our feeds. However, giving up social media entirely isn’t realistic for most people because we use it for more than shopping. One solution to this never-ending cycle of self doubt and buyer’s remorse is to create social channels filled with positive peer pressure that nudges us in the direction we want to go. Open new accounts where you only “friend” or follow those who align with your values and goals. Unfollow those who don’t enrich your life, including professional influencers who are hired by brands to sway your decisions. You know that the impossibly perfect lives depicted on Instagram and other platforms are just that: impossible. Don’t fall into the trap of spending more and more just trying to keep up, when no one really does.
Beyond structuring social media channels in a way that suits your needs, you can also set limits on how much you consume and when you consume it. Set a timer and when it rings, move on to another activity you enjoy. This goes for Facebook, Pinterest, TitTok, Reddit, and every other platform. Avoid using social media when you’re shopping to help yourself stick to making your own decisions. If you’re not sure you can follow through with your plan, power off your phone and sign out of all accounts until you get used to shopping solo. Also protect yourself from targeted advertising by disabling browser cookies or using incognito/private browsing mode.
Talk to Real People About Your Choices to Save More Money
Social media has as much influence over our money-saving choices as we allow it to have. Help ensure that it has a positive influence on your spending habits by talking to those around you about the changes you’re making and why. Most people don’t like to talk about money, so it can help to find like-minded people through a social network if your friends or family aren’t able to be supportive. Stating your intentions clearly not only reinforces them for yourself, but helps you find those who will hold you accountable to your goals. If you have trouble finding such people, consider contacting a non-profit credit counselling organization in your area. A friendly counsellor would be happy to review your financial situation and help guide you on saving money and reaching your goals. Unlike help through a social channel, appointments are completely confidential, and they’re also totally free.