The fear of missing out, otherwise known as FOMO, is a sneaky way students may find themselves spending unnecessary money in college.
The phenomenon has become so common that FOMO was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. According to the official definition FOMO is "Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media."
FOMO can play out like this: you're perusing your friends' posts on Facebook and see a status update of someone celebrating their Beyonce tickets. Suddenly, you find yourself wanting to go see Beyonce too, even though you know the ticket is pricey and will definitely hit your budget hard. Still, you don't want to miss out on the excitement of seeing a pop icon in concert. And, before you know it, you've blown your limited money on concert tickets even though you know you probably shouldn't have.
The bad news is FOMO is pervasive. The good news is there are ways to prevent FOMO from breaking the bank. Here are some tips on avoiding FOMO and effective budgeting for college students.
Be mindful of your social media use
"Instead of just trying to keep up with the Joneses, we keep them in our hands and pockets with our smartphones" says Lauren Greutman, author of "The Recovering Spender." "With the rise of Snapchat and Instagram, college kids can no longer sit alone in their dorms. They sit alone and see how much fun others are having."
That's why stopping FOMO requires being mindful about your social media use. Students can limit how much time they spend on social media by installing free desktop applications that let you block websites for a set period of time. Choosing not to download social media apps is the easiest way for students to control time spent perusing Instagram and the like.
By limiting your engagement in activities that can cause FOMO, you're less likely to experience it and to let the actions of others influence how you spend your money.
Make some extra money
There is nothing inherently wrong with spending money on the things you really want if you have the money to do it.
If you'd like money for some discretionary spending, your best bet is to find a part-time job. Student unions and dorms usually have boards full of requests for tutors or student workers. Nearby businesses may also post flyers for available openings.
If a job isn't working out and you need some money quickly, Greutman suggests learning to market the skills you already have by freelancing in an appropriate field. Students should then research websites where they can market themselves as freelancers to make extra cash now.
Greutman also suggests students learn how to buy and sell things using online marketplaces. These are quick things students can do in their spare time in order to afford the extras they want.
Find ways to save money on the things you want
Making sure FOMO doesn't ruin your budget doesn't end at making more money. The real magic happens when you combine earning more with saving more.
"Students can figure out where they are overspending and learn how to cut that money back," says Greutman, "that way they can use the extra money to take that Spring Break trip with their friends." Eating out and buying clothing are two common areas where students can cut back on their spending.
She also suggests students take it a step further and do their research on price comparison websites dedicated to finding discounted flights and hotels. "Don't just book the first trip you find, do your research and get a great deal," she adds.
If you need to do some shopping, perhaps for your dorm room, Greutman suggests using online shopping portals so you can earn points you can later exchange for gift cards at retailers. These rewards can be used for items you want down the road.
Making sure FOMO doesn't kill your budget is equal parts mindset and action. By being mindful of your social media use you make sure you're not letting others influence your financial decisions. By combining that with earning more and saving more money, you're able to pay for the things you want without digging yourself into a hole.