Is social media blowing your budget?

Is social media blowing your budget?

By Kerri Jackson. Posted 9 August 2019. Categories: Personal finance.

Using social media might be free but it can also be a tidal wave of temptation, particularly when if you’re susceptible to impulse buying. Apps such as Instagram can be like a vast shop window to an always-open mall. The lure can be hard to resist but never fear, we have some tips for resisting that “shop now” button, and keeping your financial plan on track.

Unfollow
This might seem like the boring option, but it’s also the simplest. Following your favourite brands, celebrities and influencers on social media usually means viewing a steady stream of things we want; it can be anything from new cars, or new clothes, to a dream wedding, new restaurants to try, an expensive haircut or even ingredients to try a new recipe.

The less you see the things you don’t need but might want in the heat of the moment, the less likely you are to succumb to the shopping impulse.

Set aside some time to curate your social media a little more, so it’s all a bit less tempting. If you’re saving for something specific follow social media accounts for those items, to keep your financial attention focused. 

Think about limiting the number of consumer or shopping focused accounts you follow and add in one or two accounts that offer helpful tips for reaching your financial goals.

Take a breath

If you don’t want to unfollow your favourite brands, try to learn how to “ride out” the impulse. Count to ten before you click on that “buy now” button; shut your eyes or, even better, put your phone down and walk away. You could make a note of the item then move on to doing something else - like looking at your financial plan to remind yourself of your goals.

Often if you can ride out the rush of that immediate impulse, you may find your desire to buy the item dissipates. 

If you’ve made a note of the item, give yourself some time before you go back and revisit it in a more considered, less emotional state. You might want to adjust the length of time to the size of the purchase. Maybe just a day for something small, but more like a month for large purchases to give yourself time to see how it fits with your financial plan and be sure you really want the item. There’s nothing worse than buyer’s remorse when you’re on a strict budget!

Budget for impulses

That might seem like a contradiction, but if you know you’re prone to a spot of impulse shopping (And let’s be honest, who isn’t now and then? It can be fun!) try to allow some flexibility in your financial plan.

Having some money in your budget for unforeseen “fun” stuff if you can afford it, will ultimately help keep you on track. If every cent is committed purely to reaching your financial goals, with no room to move, you may start to resent it and veer off track.

What’s your trigger?

Emotional shopping is a thing! Just like emotional eating - seeing something you like the look of and buying it right there and then can give us a rush of pleasure that’s very appealing if you’re having a bad day, or feeling a bit bored.

Trying to practice a bit of mindfulness about why you really want to make a purchase might help you ride out the impulse. That’s where shutting your eyes and counting to 10 can really come in handy. Take some deep breaths and think about doing other things that might make you feel better for longer, like taking a walk or playing your favourite music. 

A key thing is to not beat yourself up if you make the odd stumble on the path to reaching your financial goals.

Go device free

Simply spending less time on your devices, should help you spend less money on impulse purchases. Commit to a set period of device-free time each day and use it to do something constructive or creative, that you find more fulfilling and satisfying over the long-term rather than the quick fix of giving in to your shopping impulse.

Other articles you might like:

How to conduct a complete audit with your personal finances

Seven life hacks for financially savvy Aussies

Shop smarter at the supermarket