The fear of missing out: FOMO

Money and Life
(Financial Planning Association of Australia)

The spending habits of our younger generation show that experiences mean more to them than buying stuff. So are they better at managing money than their Boomer or Gen X parents? Or is FOMO leading them into the dangers of growing debt? Find out more about money habits of millenials.

For some years, retail businesses have been in a tailspin about the rise of the experience economy[1]. Instead of going on shopping sprees, people are channeling more of their cash into dining out, weekends away and holidays. In 2015, JPMorgan collated data from credit card spending by millenials (those born between 1981 and 1997) and non-millenials (born before 1981). They found 34% of spending by millenials was on travel, entertainment and dining, compared with 28% for non-millenials[2].

With less emphasis on buying stuff, this could be seen as a welcome minimal movement among millenials. However, with the rise of social media, sharing photos from our latest experience, rather than parading with a new purchase, has become the preferred way of keeping up with the Joneses. “It used to be that our car, or handbag or wallet showed our status,”says James Wallman, a trend forecaster and the author of Stuffocation: Living More with Less. “Now we post Facebook pictures from a chairlift in Chamonix or the latest music festival. Social media is supporting this change. Posting pictures of what you just bought is gauche; posting pictures of something you’re doing is fine[3].”

The dangers of FOMO

So the pressure to buy, is being replaced by the need to be there, or what’s become known as FOMO, ‘fear of missing out.’ And according to a recent survey by Credit Karma, it’s a fear that’s fuelling financial problems among young people, with nearly 40% of them going into debt to join in on the latest experience with their peers[4]. And two-thirds of millenials surveyed said they regret spending more in social situations than they had originally budgeted for[5].

If you’re in danger of messing up with money thanks to this pressure to be involved, here are some tips to help you enjoy a fulfilling life without regret:

Automate your cash flow

Our guest contributor James Trethewie Financial Planner AFP® has a great range of tips for getting to grips with being financially independent. Automating your cash flow is one of the key recommendations James has for anyone seeking to stick to a budget, regardless of their age. “Budgets are much harder to stick to wh