Being Antisocial is the Best Way to Save Money
Cutting back on my largest monthly expense: FOMO
By Courtney Jordan
For five years in a row I had the same New Year’s resolution: do less. I didn’t resolve to do this because I’m lazy. Less to me doesn’t mean shirking additional responsibility at work, skipping the gym, or giving half the effort on homework assignments; I mean less hypothetical “fun”. That’s right. I want to attend fewer parties and happy hours. I want to RSVP no once in a while (that’s an option!). I want to meet fewer new faces, have a quieter Instagram presence, and spend more time alone. I want to achieve the Liz Lemon version of a Yes Man: Yes to staying in more!
However, for years, there was no evidence of resolve. The reason: FOMO.
FOMO (or Fear Of Missing Out, in case you’ve been living under a rock or otherwise been much more successful than me at social media detox), is a millennial term that is often used to describe the all-consuming human fear that everyone is having fun without you. It’s a feeling that has been recognized in the psychology community for ages and is basically a revised version of the common platitude “keeping up with Joneses”.
However, this feeling that something awesome is happening somewhere that you aren’t is uniquely deceitful in a time where everyone’s lives are on constant display, infiltrating your feed with champagne brunch boomerangs and group shots with rooftop sunset backdrops captioned #squadgoals. FOMO is a millennial term, and so is the inclination to value experiences over material objects. This sounds admirable, but why does it feel like rather than planning experiences, people are planning pictures for their posts?
FOMO is the reason I spent $27 on drinks last Tuesday “just because”. FOMO is the reason I spent twice the face value for sold-out concert tickets to see a band I don’t really care about. FOMO is the reason for the cost of AirBnbs for spontaneous weekends away. FOMO is the reason for trendy brunches, wine tastings, shopping trips, ski lift tickets, you name it. It isn’t that these experiences weren’t great, it’s that I didn’t need all of them.
Giving in to FOMO costs you more than a healthy savings account, it costs you quality of personal connection, appreciation of new experiences, and costs you valuable rejuvenation. I challenge you to push back on that feeling of being left out. You can do less and still get more out of life. So before you say yes, consider what you’re actually giving up. Ask yourself these questions:
Can it wait?
The need to do something right now often stems from a scarcity mentality, or the feeling that there is a finite amount of anything and everything in the universe. Companies use this to influence purchases online by letting you know something is low in stock or that other people are also shopping what you’re shopping. This mindset also applies to life (read: YOLO). Assuming you’ll never get another chance to have a certain experiences makes you buy into that opportunity quickly.
My advice: Set up a recurring monthly happy hour with friends or your team at work so you always know there’s another one coming down the pike, making it easier to decline from time to time.
Do you need to check your bank account?
Have you ever found yourself saying yes to something and having to check your balance on the way there? This is a red flag that you should consider declining this invite. Beyond the reason that you’re living outside your means, it also puts a major emotional wet blanket on the outing when you’re stressed about ordering less, splitting the bill properly, or waiting to see if your card is declined. Social outings should be fun, not a requirement that leave you barely scraping by and stressed out in the middle of the night.
My advice: If you and your friends get lunch too frequently, plan it once or twice a month on a payday so that you’ll be sure of your funds and know exactly when its coming.
Do you feel excited to participate?
Spreading yourself too thin or attending events that elicit dread don’t allow you to put your best foot forward. In particular, think about how your demeanor at these events will come across. Will you be able to be fully present and engage with other guests? Or are you likely to sit in the back with the one or two people you know well. When attending events I wasn’t fully excited about, I found myself complaining or disengaging altogether, taking away from the hard work of the host. Additionally, leaving early or cancelling at the last minute is sometimes worse than not coming at all. You always want to be the sunshine, not the rain cloud.
My advice: Wait a beat before sending your RSVP. Take 24 hours to respond (if you can) and allow yourself time to mentally adjust to the idea before committing.
Do you deserve the stress?
When you’ve had a long week, or day, or morning, it’s easy to explain away extra expenses and purchases with the Treat Yo Self mentality. You deserve a reward! But do you deserve the financial stress that will come later? Be cautious of the fine line between self-care and consumer indulgence and consider what you’re taking away from your needs in order to provide yourself with what you want.
My advice: Never be without a goal. For me, having something I’m working towards financially is the only surefire way to save money. Be it a trip, a cool-girl leather jacket, or an established safety net, never lose track of the value of your dollars.
Can you stay off your phone?
“I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”- Henry David Thoreau. I don’t quote my boy Henry here to tell you not to buy a new dress for a friend’s wedding, but rather to think about the reason behind why you’re attending events. Any situation that makes you feel like you need to change your outer appearance to fit in, rather than being yourself, is something to be cautious of. This applies to social media too. If you are only thinking of how to frame your experience on social, you are falling victim to the social conformity that if others don’t see it, it didn’t happen. It did happen. You were really there. Keep your phone in your pocket.
My advice: If you can’t seem to keep your hands off your phone while out with friends, leave your phone at home, or delete your social media apps for a set period of time. Break the habit cold turkey. Trust me, people notice.